Groundling goes mobile with the sexiest plugin on earth

phone-revIf you’re a regular here, then you’ll know that Groundling loves software, apps, services, and devices that are well designed, and which optimise productivity and simplify communications.  If you use a Word Press blog, then you are going to love a really clever plugin which I’ve just installed on a couple of my blogs today. It’s called WPtouch – subtitled ‘the sexiest mobile plugin on earth’ – my emphasis here.  Never thought I’d see a plugin called sexy … however … .  The ‘touch’ part refers to the way WPtouch operates on a mobile device, whether iPhone, iTouch or Blackberry as well as a whole lot of other smart phones.  There’s no doubt that the market penetration of these devices is on the up, and that then trend will continue. Amongst other advantages that pocket computers-that-also-do-calls aka smartphones have for bloggers, is that your posts have suddenly become far more available.  They can now be accessed on the go, and with this particular plug-in it’s faster to load, and much, much easier to read.

After you install WPtouch, and when a visitor accesses your website via a phone, they are provided with the choice of your blog’s regular theme or one that looks and operates just like a compact mobile phone app – the touch part.  WPtouch is very easy to upload via the WP plugin page.  Just search for WPtouch, download, and follow the really excellent installation instructions. Under the ‘Advanced Options’ section on the WPtouch plugin page, ensure that you tick the box ‘1st time visitors will see Mobile Theme.’ You might also like to tick the box ‘Enable WPtouch exclusive mode’ – the drop down pane beside each check box explains what all of this means far better than I could – as instructions should.

Once you’ve completed the comprehensive set up of what you want your page to show and to look like on the phone – yes you can customise it very easily – try it out on your own mobile. Point your phone’s browser to your website’s URL. After it loads, scroll to the bottom of the page, and you’ll see the Mobile Theme button which will be set at Off. Flick it to On, and it will reload the mobile version.

Ready to try it? Get all the documentation, FAQs and download the latest version at the WPtouch homepage brought to you by the Brave New Code folks.

Oh, and it was also recommended by the inestimable Mr Stephen Fry.  His site runs WPtouch, and I have to confess that I have long been an out and out fan girl of the big fella.  Who could resist this (more than slightly tongue in cheek) endorsement by the self-confessed “British Actor, Writer, Lord of Dance, Prince of Swimwear & Blogger” – his bio on Twitter.  Yes you can follow him @stephenfry  and he follows me back.  Meanwhile, give WPtouch a spin and see what you think.

Networks sniffing out social media

I wrote earlier today

As to what’s happening on the ground, we’ve seen the broadcast media folks on television, but a lot of the reporting is using file content that’s hours old … how dull! Enter the ordinary person equipped with a mobile phone and a bit of software … and the reporting landscape changes fundamentally, and for ever. Now it’s possible for anyone to make individual commentary via social media and to get that material out via other social networks. Yes it can be dreadful stuff, but it’s going to get better and it’s direct, immediate, and unfiltered by network concerns.Spinning a Learning Web, Nov 2008

Actually the BBC and VoxAfrica have been using social media to garner comment from Seesmic users in the past 48 hours or so. In fact, the BBC is on the case as far as the potential of social media is concerned. The outcome is used online and in television news. It’s still hours old, but as digital streaming channels become available by the networks, that could, and probably will change. Think about it. User as content … censorship …

BBC Have Your Say

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Mobisodic entertainment and a new frontier

Guest Post Christopher Hatton is a writer-producer based in Los Angeles and Singapore.  He is currently executive producer of the Sci-Fi Channel original movie “Phantom Racer.”  His company CinePede Productions has produced four made-for-mobile series.

It doesn’t take keen foresight to know that mobile television is the next big thing.  Consider how quickly we went from no mobile phones to global penetration in the billions.  From there it was just a hop, skip and a jump to phone games, cameras, web surfing and video conferencing – and you can do it all at the beach!  In the loo!  It’s geektastic!  Of course we’ll all be watching television on our phones.

Some of us already are.  Some of us are producing content for them.

But it’s still early days and it’s not for nothing they’re being compared to the Wild West.  Everybody’s rushing to the new frontier, and while it isn’t exactly lawless, it is chaotic and the rules are being written on the fly.  Just because we know where we’re going, doesn’t mean we know the best way to get there.  Or what will work when we do.

Mobile video has its own set of challenges.  At first it was technical limitations.  The handsets could only handle about a minute’s worth of downloaded material.  And streaming was great, but only if you were into content with a distinctly Cubist presentation.  Most of the kinks have been worked out and now the end-user experience is pretty good.

This puts the creative challenges of mobile video front and center.  So far the arena has been dominated by silly home videos at one end and repurposed television content at the other, probably neither of which is ideal.  Do you really want to watch the latest episode of “Battlestar Galactica” on your phone when you can see it on HD with surround sound at home?

As producers we have to keep in mind that mobile television is different from regular TV and web-based content.  Our venue is small and constantly on the move.  Mobisodes are viewed while riding the bus, waiting for meetings, or in between classes.  Our content has to neatly fit in that limited mind space and still be compelling enough to bring the viewer back for more.  Eventually, somebody will create the first mobile blockbuster, and then the rush will really begin.  Until then, we’re all staking our claims and hoping to hit pay dirt.

Like web content, mobile television has the potential to be an excellent development platform.  A place where you can try out new concepts on fairly small budgets while building a viewer base and – theoretically – generating revenue.  You might just make the case for spinning up to television or a feature.  But lest it sound too good to be true, it’s important to look at some harsh realities, because also like the web, mobile video is no “Field Of Dreams.”  Just because you post it, doesn’t mean they’ll come.

It’s easy to be seduced by the idea of all those hundreds of millions of handsets out there and the nice sounding ring of “revenue share.”  But right now very few independent producers are earning meaningful revenue from mobile television.  From a certain perspective, this is also true of the studios and broadcasters producing spin-offs of hit series.  For them it’s a marketing exercise.  They’re able to promote their brand while “claiming space” in this new arena, biding time for when it inevitably becomes a revenue monster.  Meanwhile, the “little guy” is fighting against the goliath conglomerates for their tiny corner of it all.

Then there are the aggregators who are all too happy to represent your product at a 50-50 rev-share – with no minimum guarantee – which they will then provide to a telcom for a 60-40 rev-share.  By the time the producer gets their piece, it’s pretty small.  (And if you’re still thinking about all those handsets out there, just remember that right now most of them still have limited or no video capabilities.)  Web-based portals provide a platform where the producer can appeal directly to the buyer.  But then we’re back to the Field Of Dreams dilemma.  How do you get the eyeballs?  The end-user won’t find your product unless you market to them, which gets expensive very quickly.

All of a sudden our new frontier seems an awful lot like the old one.

But that’s just today.  As quickly as things have been changing, we can only guess what the landscape will look like tomorrow.  Meanwhile, we can be certain that mobile television is the next big thing.  And for writers and actors and film crews that means one more place to do what we do.

That can only be good.