Not a week goes by without someone passing comment about it in some way, shape or form. AND I LOVE IT. I’m not one to follow the crowd you see. I like things to be different (this too will also explain my iPad’s Joker-themed back decal as well as its sustainable African bubinga wood cover – I know there’s a word for this, but I don’t care).
Anyway, my point is, I used to know a girl called Roger and many moons ago we used to write a comedy blog together, and it was fun. However, times change, and it would seem, names do too.
To find the solution, we first need to fully understand the problem.
2screen / dual-screen / second-screen — all are different names for the kind of integration that I’m referring to and it’s something I’ve been kicking around in my head ever since I went to my first 2screen event back in October 2010.
It was a big deal then and it’s a bigger deal now.
In the app-world, services such as ZeeBox and Sky Sports for iPad are doing very good things indeed. Both integrating news, stats and social media streams into your second screen; providing a suitable data-based accompaniment to your visual consumption.
However, I want to talk about television-based social media integration (not app-based).
This kind of stuff -
That’s how Sky One’s ‘Got to Dance‘ handles it and many other broadcasters follow suit. BBC One is getting in on the act too, here using a Twitter wall backstage for the UK edition of ‘The Voice‘.
What do these examples all have in common?
Fundamentally, they are all bringing (or at least attempting to bring) the conversation from the second screen, to the first. Which, correct me if I’m wrong, kind of defeats the object of the second screen.
Whether it’s reading out tweets during the credits of Celebrity Juice on ITV2 or talking about Facebook wall posts inbetween programmes on BBC3, broadcasters seem to be obsessed with sharing (read ‘owning’) viewer social media.
Recognising that conversation takes place away from their platform(s), TV + social media work best together when television directs its audience to the conversation medium, as opposed to smashing them in the face with it via another.
Sorority Girls, an E4 TV show, flashes up their hashtag both at the start and at the end of their show as well as when going into ad breaks.
This is good! This is television saying -
‘Hey, perhaps some people are actually watching our shows when they’re on and, instead of going to the kettle during an ad break, they’re turning to Twitter!’
- and giving the audience a your hashtag at this point is a very good idea. You own it, you guide it, you track it.
Little pointers like this give you, the viewer, the option of tracking (and joining) the back-channel. If you understand what it means, you join the conversation. Perfect.
I guess this is one big plea to broadcasters to just stop reading out tweets and Facebook updates on the telly. Seriously, it just doesn’t work.
Finally, and returning to the opening image of this post, the new trailer for Prometheus aired recently during the first break of Homeland. Channel 4′s own announcer was employed also, asking viewers to tweet their reactions using the hashtag #areyouseeingthis.
So far, so good. Right? Right.
Except that, 20mins later (during the next ad break), those very tweets were displayed onscreen for all to see.
Yes that’s actually a TV ad you’re seeing there, with (clearly moderated) tweets displaying instead of your usual commercial break. Mental.
Reports state that this activity reached a potential audience of 15m users. (Note: POTENTIAL audience. That’s the number of every tweet with the hashtag, multiplied by their sum of their followers – ie: not a real number). And while this kind of exercise is a great advert for Twitter, it leaves existing fans and users feeling a bit… empty.
In closing, encouraging viewers to join an online conversation is one thing, replaying that conversation to them 20mins later is just a pain in the oculars.
I started writing this post last weekend, before the big Facebook sale was announced, as I wanted to talk about – in light of the recent Android-owners backlash – I use (and enjoy) Instagram. It’s funny now though how that very same backlash has not only continued but also now includes all things Facebook. Incredible. C’est la vie.
I love Instagram. There, I said it.
I also don’t own an iPhone.
Anyone who’s been reading this blog for any amount of time knows that I am a Nokia fan. My current phone du jour is the Nokia Lumia 800 and before I now I have waxed lyrical about its predecessors the N8 and the N86. Similarly, regular readers will also know that I am an iPad-owner also. Of that too, I am also a fan.
I am a social media junkie; If something is new and shiny, I take a(n educated and measured) interest and, in all honesty, the lure of Instagram was too much.
The next logical step? Install Instagram onto the iPad.
While there isn’t an official Instagram iPad app, the iPhone version doubles up just fine. Problem solved, right? Well, yes but that’s not enough. I own an iPad 2 y’see and, while it does have an onboard camera, you may as well give a packet of crayons to a pack of blind monkeys for all the use it’ll do you. A decent image it produces, not.
The great thing about Nokia devices however, is that the top end bad boys tend to come packing high-end mobile camera technology. Which is great, and as 99% of the images I snap with my Lumia end up on my Flickr account – all I need is a method of getting those images into Instagram.
Yes, it’s a lengthy process and yes it’s not exactly ideal either but like I said, I like the network and I like the people I follow there. I installed Instagram onto my Nexus S a couple of days ago and I’ve hardly used it. I prefer the iPad experience. Plus, my pictures are infinitely better.
My first iPad wasn’t in fact mine. I merely had it on loan from the office. We danced and we played together but eventually, I had to hand it back. However, a couple of weeks ago (and thanks to some smart upselling from Vodafone), I picked up my own one.
Allow me to explain: last year, I wrote about how the iPad did not mean the death toll for the publishing industry – and I stand by that. But, recently, I happened to come by an issue of The Economist’s lifestyle and culture quarterly, Intelligent Life (IL). It was my first encounter with said publication and, hidden deep within its pages, it featured a rather fantastic article entitled ‘Digital Africa‘. A super-relevant piece of writing and a subject that is dear to my heart. With that article alone, the magazine had found itself a new subscriber.
Later (and I don’t know how I discovered it, one assumes there must’ve been an ad somewhere inside), I soon learnt that IL had its own freeiPad app. Even better. I thought, I know a lot of people with iPads and I know a lot of people that would enjoy that Digital Africa article. So… I’ll tell everyone who fits both those descriptions and that’ll be great.
I do, and it is.
Weeks later, my iPad2 arrives and the first app I download? IL. On top of the Digtial Africa copy, there’s a new issue available. I download that and read it, cover to cover, over the course of an afternoon.
‘Interesting’ being the key word here.
Confession time: I don’t read (in the traditional sense) as much as I’d like. It’s not a healthy admission to make, but it’s true. The, what might be seen as, usual time for reading – on the tube to and from work in the mornings and evenings – is usually taken up by writing. My Moleskine is my best friend when I’m travelling and I use the dead [read: 'disconnected'] time to jot down my thoughts. Failing that, if my mind is bare, I catch up on email or just sit and listen to music. My daily reading habits tend to be made up of my Google Readerand that’s it.
However, upon finishing my second i-issue of IL, I then figured I’d give the Kindle a go. My sister and I bought one for our Mum recently and a few other friends have also extolled its virtues. I’ll get the app I say, that’ll do it.
We’ll see how this goes, shall we? New technology, encouraging me to read. This I’m going to enjoy.
Before I close off though, there’s one last thing I want to share. Back in January 2010, mobile thought leader and visionary, Christian Lindholm, wrote these words about the iPad.
It may seem like a small change, but a generation which has instant access, quite literally, at its fingertips, will be a quite different generation to that which did not. We used to consider that someone was erudite if they had spent a number of years accumulating knowledge and expertise which they could deploy at the precise moment which it was required. . Given that this information is all now on hand, people will come to rely more on an ability to recall data from the system. Ability to focus, and knowledge of the best places to look, will become the most important facets to consider. These are fundamental changes.
It’s still one of my favourite blog posts to date and I think that, in this age of the information rich, the sentiment stands true:
Irrespective of your thoughts on what the iPad is for, these shifts in the way we store, recall and interact with knowledge signify a human behavioural change that we – in our lifetimes – will probably never be able to truly quantify.
I’ve been using the iPad for around two months now I guess and, although my thoughts on the device have been percolating since February… I think, at last, some words have finalised themselves in my head;
Technology is a wonderful, wonderful thing. But people always seem to forget the practicalities. The feel of a good book in your hands, the smell of a fresh off-the-shelf comic book, the joy of being able to pass on that knowledge-imbibed article to the next suitably eager set of hands.
I think it was Russell Buckley, now a VP at Admob, who quite rightly pointed out that although mobile vouchers were indeed ‘the future’, nothing could prevent the person behind the till forgetting their glasses that day. The iPad overheats, it reflects poorly in bright light and it, just like every other new piece of media technology of recent years, is just another medium.
The iPad will no more spell the end of print than any previous generation of technology. Radios, TVs, PCs, CD-ROMs and the internet were all at one time set to hasten the demise of print.
The iPad is simply another device in the ongoing narrative of an industry reeling from the shift towards advertising online, the internet as a low cost real time distribution platform, and competition for consumer attention from screen based media.
For the record, I quite like my iPad. But the death knell for all paper-based ocular consumption it is not.