Amy Webb, founder of Webbmedia in Baltimore, gave one of the most interesting presentations of the morning with "Five Hot Technology Trends You Need To Know About."
The importance of technology in news media is undeniable in this day and age, but Webb challenged editors to think about tech ideas from the consumer's point of view instead of from the journalist's.
Here are the Five Hot Tech Trends according to Webb:
1. Hyperlocal content. Hyperlocal content refers to content that is intended for a very specific audience based on geographic location. This is not a new idea however it has been largely unsuccessful in the past. Webb suggests that editors concentrate their information either further to reach niche audiences. For example, traditionally if The Anywhere Times were to publish The American County Weekly it would not do very well. Instead The Anywhere Times should focus on a tighter niche, say The American County Dog Lovers Weekly. Webb went on to stress the importance of providing real-time content because consumers have become accustomed to getting information immediately with sites such as Twitter and Facebook. She went on to discuss aspects that should be incorporated into these hyperlocal projects such as "opportunities" for users to gain points or badges. The lesson of this trend is "local is not local enough".
2. Check-In Culture . Long gone are the days when people didn't even put their full names on the Internet. Today users post everything from what they had for breakfast to what they plan to do today. Websites, in keeping up with people's never ending fascination with telling the world their business, have now added a function where people can "check-in" where they are at. Any Twitter user has noticed that the site now allows you to automatically tag your location in your status. This new trend has spawned several apps and websites where user's locations are automatically picked up on and options made available. Webb encouraged editors to look at how they can create custom content that follows this trend. By knowing where your consumers are at any given time, a news organization can then stream relevant information to those consumers based on that information. The interactivity of this trend also engages consumers in a way that news organizations have not been able to do before.
3. Real-Time Sharing. The Internet is a 24 hour drive through of information and the news needs to keep up. According to Webb, technology has created a more sophisticated consumer who wants their information not only based on where they are, but when they are there. Mobile apps that let you know who's in your immediate area and if you two are compatible are already available to the public. News organizations should take this technology into mind and develop strategies to seek out the "serendipity factor" and offer it to users.
4. User-Generated Geo Content. The idea of user generated content is not a new one. However, taking into account the location tagging that has become popular, news organizations can use this technology to vet the information that comes to them. Regular people have become increasingly interested in reporting news with the creation of segments like iReport on CNN. Using a location tagging feature not only makes it easier for editors to sift through content, but it also makes it easier for consumers to do the same.
5. Ubiquitous Content. Webb emphasized focusing less on paper and more on news. She said that newspapers should begin to look at themselves as news distributors and not just newspapers. News media should look into tablets and e-reader technology and creating content specifically for those platforms instead of just repurposing stories from the newspaper.
Reporter: Nikole L. Pegues, Howard University