Friday, October 17, 2014

The Digital Divide and Knowledge Gap

The Knowledge Gap Theory was first proposed by Tichenor, Donohue and Olien. The theory states that the capacity to acquire knowledge depends on the access they have to it. People from the higher strata of the society have an advantage of having the means of acquiring knowledge, when they desire to do so, whereas, those in the lower strata of the society fail to acquire knowledge even if they want to. This is simply because they cannot afford to do so.

The world is increasingly communicating through digital devices which come at a cost. So if you are in the stratum of society which can afford to buy a digital device, you will be able to communicate better, and in turn, be able to access more content. And if you cannot afford to own a digital divide, you fall in the other stratum. This leads to the society divided into digital have's and have nots -  the Digital Divide.

Today students use mobile phones and tablets to compare and share notes, teachers distribute soft copies rather than printed notes. So those students who do not have 'Smartphones' end up not being able to access the content that others do. This is the new kind of Knowledge Gap - the one created by digital divide.

The digital divide does not depend only on the availability of a mobile phone. The facility to access content also depends on the  quality of network signal, which is again created by digital equipment. So if your network is strong, you have a better chance of accessing content faster. So, though the mobile phones are getting cheaper, the network quality is showing little sign of improvement. Yesterday, the Andhra Pradesh (A state in India) Chief Minister chastised the network operators for poor quality of network in the cyclone affected areas, which hampered rescue and rehabilitation operations in the state.

Thus, Digital Divide and Knowledge Gap go hand in hand.

References:
http://www.utwente.nl/cw/theorieenoverzicht/Theory%20clusters/Mass%20Media/knowledge_gap/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_divide

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/cyclone-hudhud-chandrababu-naidu-telecom-companies-sunil-mittal-vizag/1/396117.html  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Samsung, Apple, et al.

I have a problem. Its a bloody small little big problem. I had decided to present myself a tablet to celebrate my becoming a Doctor in Philosophy and all that. The euphoria of getting the degree is already gone, but I still haven't bought myself a tablet. Now you may wonder what prevents me from doing that? Well here comes my small little big problem....

My expections from a tablet are quite simple. I should be able to do basic editing of Word and Powerpoint documents and I should be able to connect it to an LCD projector. I thought I would be able to just breeze into a store and come out with a tablet of my choice. But no. The Samsung, Apple, Acer, Android, IOS and Windows Gods have ganged up against me.

No Samsung tablet can be connected to VGA LCD projector with a single cable. You require one HDMI output cable, to which you attach a HDMI to VGA converter and that too requires a power source. After hunting in the Internet jungle I found no solution which guarantees that this convoluted solution will work. There was one cable by iKross. Just to make sure, I asked them over e-mail and they replied that it would not work with Powerpoint. So whats the bloody point? So ALL Android devices are useless for me.

So you might ask me why not buy an iPad and stop cribbing. Well the iPad is a great tablet, but I am stuck with whatever memory I buy. Unlike Android tablets, iPads don't have a USB port to expand memory.

So now? I decided to buy a Windows 8 tablet. Its very funny how these companies treat us, Indians. I had decided to buy the Acer W510 tablet. I went to the dealer and said I want to see the machine. He said I have to first buy it! There was one available in Croma, but they refused to allow me to test it with the keyboars dock. So I contacted the Acer sales team. The Acer sales team is one of the most unresponsive and rude sales teams I have ever encountered. They don't pick up calls and they don't return them too. They don't respond to SMSs. I use an Acer netbook and am very fond of it. But this experience has definitely turned me off Acer.

I then hunted again and I think I have found just what I am looking for. Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet 2. Its a Windows 8 machine so I will be able to use all the software I need. Plus it actually has an accessory to connect to a VGA projector! I called up a Lenovo exclusive store and the story repeated. I have to buy the tablet first to test it! Why do these companies have 'Exclusive' stores where you can't get a hands-on experience on an equipment before you decide on purchasing it?

I am awaiting a call from Lenovo now. Hoping that my fortunes will change and I do end up buying the tablet I want.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Media convergence and communication features in websites of political parties in India


This is the synopsis of my doctoral thesis. I will be uploading my full thesis on my website very soon.

Media convergence and communication features
in websites of political parties in India

Synopsis of the proposed thesis
Submitted for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy in Arts
of
Department of Communication and Journalism
University of Mumbai

By

Mangesh Manohar Karandikar

Under the Supervision of
Dr. Kiran Thakur
Department of Communication and Journalism
University of Mumbai

SYNOPSIS

Title: Media convergence and communication features in websites of political parties in India

Chapter 1: Introduction
Communication technology is evolving at a very fast pace since the last two decades. This researcher has been a witness with a very close view of the rapid changes that have taken place in these two decades. He has also been a part of this change, dabbling with the latest graphic designing software, web designing software, Flash animation, client–server programming, digital video production for offline as well as online content delivery. His position, thus affords him the knowledge and the expertise needed to test all features of websites and their content. Knowledge of programming has helped the researcher technically analyse the websites, and the graphic designing background has laid the groundwork for learning and analyzing the design aspects of the websites that he has studied for this research.

1.1:  Many Voices, One World
‘Many Voices, One World’ or the ‘MacBride Report’ as it is popularly called was a result of a world-wide research conducted by UNESCO to address the disparity of communication between the ‘first world’ and the ‘third world’ countries or the developed and under-developed or developing nations. The imbalances in communication tended to marginalize the developing world, which included India. However, since mid-1980s India’s economic policy opened up the markets and one of the results of which was the rapid development of communication infrastructure in the country.

1.2: India’s Economic Policy and the Communication Revolution
A Balance of Payments crisis  in 1991 that brought India to the brink of bankruptcy ushered in the age or economic reforms. One of the biggest beneficiaries of these reforms was the Telecommunications and the Information Technology sector. The telecommunications infrastructure, which was wholly owned by the government, was opened to the private sector producing exemplary results. The regulatory constraints were eased in 2004 and rapid developments in the communication technologies around the world, especially in the field of Internet began to flow into the country. As a result, today India can boast of having the third largest telecommunications network in the world (OECD, 2007 ).

1.3: The Internet, history and recent developments
The Internet can be termed as an international network of computers. The development of Internet started in early 1960’s with research in packet switching, which enabled transmission of data in groups or chunks called packets. In late 1960’s and early 1970’s ARPANET was developed which allowed protocols, or formats to transmit digital data for internetworking. In 1995, the Internet was commercialized, removing any restrictions on the Internet to transmit commercial data. From 1990’s the growth of the Internet has been rapid, spreading its tentacles to almost every corner of the globe (Serf, 1990).

Since the commercialization of the Internet in 1995, several phenomena have led to its rapid rise in the popularity and proliferation, at the same time made it a medium of choice for communication. The increasing popularity of the Internet could be attributed to several factors; the anonymity that the Internet provides allows the user to communicate without the fear of being left isolated (Griffin, 2011), the speed at which one can communicate with anyone, breaking geographical boundaries and barriers, almost making the world a ‘global village’ (McLuhan, 1962). The social networking sites have helped in blossoming of online communities comprising of people having similar thoughts and ideas, leading to a process of re-tribalization (McLuhan, 1962) in the virtual world. The Internet has become a truly convergent medium and is used extensively today for personal as well as professional use, be it for ordering groceries or for making banking transactions online.

1.4: Internet and Political Communication
The Internet has transformed the way we communicate around the world. In this technology- created global village, Internet has given rise to phenomena like the e-mail, blogs, websites and online social media, leading to the redefining Habermas’s public sphere into mini public spheres (Dahlgren, 2001) (Sassi, 2001). It is also argued that the Internet has led to the formation of a new brand of civil society, with access to divergent channels of information, with the possibility of every issue debated on social media platforms. (Coleman, 2001), Wring and Horrocks (2001). Apart from bringing like-minded groups together in the virtual world, new media could also promote polarization (Aday, Farell, Lynch, Sides, Kelly, & Zuckerman, 2010). Though some political parties use their websites only for dissemination of information, others use the websites for interaction and encouraging participation (Römmele, 2003 ) and that political parties’ websites could play a distinct role in political communication with the public (Norris, 2003 ). Kulokova and Perlmutter (2007) in their study of an unofficial blog, Akaevu.net, an advocacy blog that was linked to the recent ‘Tulip Revolution’ suggest that unofficial blogs could be effectively used for political communication. In a study which studied the interactive features of political websites, it was found that there was a direct relation between the level of interactivity in a website and the perception of the political party and the policy positions taken by the party (Sundar, Kalyanaraman, & Brown, 2003 ). Hibberd (2003) argues that though political websites provide a platform for public discussion of political affairs, their role in actual political communication has to be examined. He, however, asserts that there is potential for democratic participation on the Internet provided that the political parties use it optimally.

1.5: Why this study?
Once a website is ‘online’, it can be accessed by anyone in the world. An organization which creates a website actually creates an interface, a facility for anyone in the world to communicate and interact with itself. Having a website, hence, becomes vital for any organization in today’s communication scenario, especially for a political organizations which have to be in constant touch with their stakeholders; the public - who are their potential voters, the party workers and officials – who help in communication with the public and in the day to day functioning of the party, the government and the donors and supporters. Most political parties in India have created and hosted their websites. This study analyzes the features present in the websites of political parties in India to analyze them for convergence and communication features.

Chapter 2: Literature Review
There is a huge body of work done by researchers around the world, but more so from the US, UK and other European countries. However, this researcher has come across very few studies on websites of political parties in India and this thesis is probably the first of its kind to address this subject.

2.1: Types of political parties
Norris (2003 ) studied websites of political parties from around the world. During this study Norris categorized political parties into major, minor and fringe parties according to the number of seats they held in the respective countries’ parliaments. Based on this study, this researcher uses the terms major, minor and fringe parties ….. Major parties are those that hold more than 20 percent seats in the Lok Sabha (Lower house of Indian parliament). Minor parties hold between 3 and 20 per cent seats in the Lok Sabha. Those parties with seats below three per cent are categorized as fringe parties. The equalization and normalization theory is essentially based on this categorization due to which they acquire significance.

2.2: Equalization and Normalization
Theoretically the Internet provides an equal platform to political parties for extensive online campaigning and communication, enabling the smaller parties to communicate with their constituents directly, equalizing the opportunities negating the cost factor. At the same time major political parties, with more resources host more sophisticated websites and also attract more attention, thus normalizing the effect of the Internet. There are several arguments to support the equalization theory (Lappas, Kleftodimos, & Yannas, 2011), (Welp & Wheatley, 2009 ), (Ackland & Gibson, 2006). (Lim & Park, 2011 ). At the same time there are several arguments that contest it (Small, 2008), (Soon, 2010), (Smith & Chen, 2010), (Gibson & McAllister, 2011).Mirandilla’s (2010), (Lim & Park, How do congressional members appear on the web? Tracking the web visibility of South Korean politicians, 2011 ), (Margolis & Moreni-Riaño, 2009).

However, it is evident that the equalized field is normalized in real life and the major political parties are able to host more sophisticated websites than minor parties. The degree of sophistication could be judged on the basis of the number of features present in a website. This study focussed on the features available on the websites of political parties analyze them on the basis of their category to find if the normalization theory holds true in India.

2.3: Design is the Message
In his doctoral thesis on a study of Aristotle’s Rhetoric, Jamie Dow (2008) claims that for an expert rhetorician, arousing emotions of others is a necessary skill to be able to communicate and convince. According to Norman, there are three levels of design: visceral, behavior, and reflective (Norman, 2005 ). At the visceral level, physical features—look, feel, and sound—dominate.

The importance of aesthetics is demonstrated in Indian theory of Rasa in several compositions especially in the Natyashastra. Aesthetics is an important part of shringar and the audiences’ perception depends a lot on the presentation. Consider the following poem by an unknown poet:
कर्णारुतुदमन्तरेण रणितं गाहस्व काक स्वयम्
माकन्दं मकरन्दशालिनमिह त्वां मन्महे कोकिलम् ।
धन्यानि स्थलवैभवेन कतिचिद्वस्तुनि कस्तूरिकाम्
नेपालक्षितिपालभालपतिते पङ्के न शङ्केत क: ॥
[Kuvalananda, N.S. edition page 134]

The poet gives an example of parading a lesser thing as a greater thing. The poet, with his tongue in cheek advises a crow to sit on a mango tree and not crow, which will make people mistake him for a cuckoo, because of the similarity in colour and form.

A visitor would probably stay on a website longer if a better visual first impression is achieved by the web designer. This ‘first impression’ is described in what is termed as the ‘Halo Effect’ first coined by Thorndike in 1920 (Josephson, Barnes, & Lipton, 2010). Several researchers have studied this concept and their results prove that the ‘Halo Effect’ does exist (Nisbett & Wilson, 1977 ), (Clifford & Walster, 1973), (Beckwith & Donald, 1975), (Sonderegger & Sauer, 2010), (Cyra, Head, & Ivanov, 2006).

2.4: 50 milliseconds to make an impression?
At the start of the millennium, in the year 2000, the Google Index had one billion websites registered. By the year 2008, it had reached the one trillion mark (The Official Google Blog). A simple search for any subject shows up thousands of links on a search engine . Hence, to make an impression on a casual visitor, web designers could have less than 50 milliseconds (Lindgaard, Fernandes, Dudek, & Brown, 2006). The ‘better looking’ website is perceived to be ‘more usable’ (Tractinsky, Katz, & Ikar, 2004). Rather than textual content, aesthetic factors and visual appeal initially decide whether a visitor remains on the website for a longer period (Hartmann, Sutcliffe, & de Angeli, 2007). For this study, the researcher conducted two experiments to test the websites of political parties in India for their aesthetic quality.

2.5: Colour and Layout of the website
Generally, warm colours (yellow orange spectrum) are said to be responsible for ‘advancing’ (spatial depth) and ‘arousing’ (mood) effects whereas cool colours (blue green spectrum) are said to have a soothing effect (Goethe). Colour is important to design and helps a designer in enhancing the aesthetic appeal, accessibility and usability of design. The ability of colour to evoke emotional response is well researched and documented (Elliot, Maier, Moller, Friedman, & Meinhardt, 2007), (Kaya & Epps, 2004). The colours of a website have the power to appeal to the senses and could determine the users’ perception about trust and satisfaction. This puts a lot of emphasis on effective use of colour for interface and website designers (Cyr, Head, & Larios, 2010). When cool colour combinations (blue-light blue) are used in website design, they evoke significantly more positive response than warm colour combinations (red-orange) and have direct effects on the users perceptions about creativity and cleanliness of a web design (Coursaris, Sarah, & Watrall, 2009). Another study found that greater readability was achieved by using a greater contrast ration of colours and that cooler (blues and chromatic colours) lead to higher aesthetic ratings which in turn also affected the decision of the user to purchase goods on that particular website (Hall & Hanna, 2004). There are however cultural variations in the perception of colour. For this research, two websites were tested to find which colour combinations are more favoured by a sample Indian population.

2.6: The F Pattern
A study conducted by Jacob Neilsen (2006) using eyetracking heatmaps reveals an understanding of how users ‘read’ a website. The study shows that users often read web pages in an F-shaped pattern: two horizontal stripes followed by a vertical stripe. Users first read in a horizontal movement, usually across the upper part of the content area. This initial element forms the F's top bar. Next, users move down the page a bit and then read across in a second horizontal movement that typically covers a shorter area than the previous movement. This additional element forms the F's lower bar. Finally, users scan the content's left side in a vertical movement. Sometimes this is a fairly slow and systematic scan that appears as a solid stripe on an eyetracking heatmap. Other times users move faster, creating a spottier heatmap. This last element forms the F's stem.

2.7: Design for New Media
Today, about 100 million Indians actively use the Internet, which is only about 8.5% of the country's population.  Moreover, we have a growing number of users who access the Internet through their mobile phones - about 40 million (India Internet Usage).

Internet and the mobile telephone are now challenging and rivaling the traditional media in reach and content delivery. More and more content is being disseminated and accessed on the Internet and the mobile phones. Both these delivery systems have forced the traditional media to jump on to the Internet and mobile bandwagon, delivering their content over these platforms along with the traditional delivery channels. Moreover, most of the content on the Internet is free and easily accessible by anyone with a normal, low cost Internet connection.

This new media have sparked off several technology-fed phenomena, the most important being Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The availability of these online social media sites has enabled the marginalized societies to create their own media, challenging the authority at the centre (Innis, 1964). Social media networks have partly enabled uprisings and revolutions in countries like Tunisia and Egypt by giving the people a tool to create their own media, to enable people to give vent to their feelings and form virtual communities. People are no longer dependent on the traditional media and handouts from the administration for information.

No government and political party can now ignore the power of these online social media. This study looked at how and whether Indian political parties use the medium of mobile phones and social media platform for information dissemination, peoples' participation and how they conduct a dialogue with their present and prospective supporters and voters.

2.8: Language of the Internet
Language -  “A body of words and the systems for their use common to a people who are of the same community or nation, the same geographical area, or the same cultural tradition”.

For every verbal or non-verbal communication to be successful there has to be a common language which can be understood by both, the originator and the receptor of the message, because the message, by default, is polysemic in nature, it is extremely important that the message communicates exactly what the originator intended to (Orlik, 2000). Language is the medium for all communication through which people express themselves whether orally or by printed or written text (Paolillo, Pimienta, & Prado, 2005 ). The Minerva Group has proposed ten quality principals for cultural websites in Europe, one of which states that a quality website must provide access in more than one language so that the content can be understood by more users (Minerva Working Group 5, 2005).

Though the quality of education can be assessed by using several parameters, the most important parameter is the language of teaching and communication. Although India has a multi-linguistic culture, its education sector is dominated by English, a foreign language not understood by a large chunk of the population (Benson, 2004 ). The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in India and the world over has been limited by the language of the interface that the ICT devices provide. There is a strong co-relation between the use of ICT and developing content in local language (McCallum & Papandrea, 2009), (Wahid, Furuholt, & Kristiansen, 2006), (DarlingWolf, 2004 ). There is evidence that suggests that Internet penetration increases when the content on the websites is available in the language which is more widely used in a particular region (Beal, Ho, Kluver, Kenneth, & Yang, 2003).To enable a wider use of ICTs, the users should be ‘functionally literate’ . This necessitates the adaptation of ICT interfaces to help people access to knowledge in a language and script that they can understand. This is apart from the fact that they also have to be ‘digitally literate’  (Pimienta, 2005).

Though the Internet as a medium provides content of visual nature, majority of the content is still textual. Hence, to understand the content on Internet, basic literacy levels are a necessity. Today the most prominent language on the Internet is English, followed by Chinese. Despite being the second most populated country in the world (Census of India Provisional Population Totals Census 2011) not a single Indian language figures in the top ten languages used on the Internet.

The dominance of English on the Internet is due to several factors. First, the early users were North Americans and second, the early designs of the computers were based on American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII). Finally, the dominance of English has also been due to the need to communicate in a common language in the age of globalization (The Economist, 1996 ).  India has 22 scheduled languages and several hundred dialects (Census of India 2001a). Indian Internet users are no more restricted to the urban areas. The rural Internet usage has seen phenomenal growth in the last few years.

The use of Internet in rural India has jumped from 12.1 million users in December 2010 to 24 million in December 2012, a rise of more than 50%.  The rise in the rural Internet usage is significant because there has been a rise in the literacy levels in India especially in rural India.  In fact the improvement in literacy rate in rural area is two times that in urban areas (Chandramouli, 2011).

These statistics have to be considered in several contexts. First, the efforts taken to impart education regional languages in rural India with several initiatives by NPTEL (National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning) scheme of the Government of India, GyanDarshan , Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan , etc. along with the private sector in developing content in multimedia format (Ward M. , 2007). Second, fact that the growth of rural literacy and improved technology in India led to a boom of Indian-language newspapers which transformed readers into consumers at the same time as it met their increased desire for information and political participation (Jeffery, 2004). The third fact is the rapid proliferation of the Internet in India, especially in the rural areas. In the latest data available, the total number of active Internet users in rural area was projected to rise by 98% to touch 24 million by December 2011 from 12.1 million in December 2010 (Internet and Mobile Association of India). Lastly, the rate of mobile telephone penetration of India is an important factor. J. Satyanarayana, Secretary –IT, Ministry of Communications and IT says, “Mobile penetration in India is over 800 million but penetration of Internet is only 15%. On the other side (sic) literacy rate in English is less than 20% whereas literacy rate in Indian languages is around 50%. Hence, the next big thing is the evolution of Mobile Internet in local languages.” (Internet and Mobile Association of India). Thus, language is an important aspect to be considered while developing content for websites in India. It could be a mistake to ignore the rapid growth of Internet users in India, who would want to read content in their mother tongue. Since communication with their publics, mainly their potential voters, is of utmost importance for any political party, it will be useful for the party to create contents in regional language to educate the electorate about its policies, programmes, and achievements. An important part of the present research is to find if websites of Indian political parties use the language of the region or are content with text only in English.

2.9: Features of websites
Apart from the design features of websites, several scholars have studied the features of political party websites. In a study on websites of Italian parties during the 2006 elections, Vaccari (2008 ) tested the following parameters: Information Dissemination, Interactivity, Responsiveness, Presentation, Freshness and Visibility. Eva Johanna Schweitzer (2005) studied the German Party Websites during the 2002 National Elections testing Accessibility, Navigation, Updating and Quality of design. Norris (2003 ) tested 134 political party websites from around the world for 34 informative and participatory features. She found that most of the parties’ websites had a more informative rather than participatory approach. However, there were a substantial number of parties who did have participatory features. In another study, websites of political parties were studied for their presentation, freshness, responsiveness and visibility (Small, 2008). In another study, interactivity, friendliness updatedness and accessibility features of political websites were analyzed (Semetko & Krasnoboka, 2003 ). Ferber et al. (2003) evaluated websites of 50 state legislatures on five criteria: usability, interactivity, transparency and audience. For the present study the researcher classified the features into design, formal, functional and technical features. One aspect that has not been looked into in the studies around the world is the language of the websites. This research gave  special emphasis to the availability of regional language used in the websites.

Chapter 3: Research Methodology
To examine these issues the researcher used multi-method research design combining content analysis (features) of the party websites with survey evidence from users in experiments conducted by the researcher. The approach that the researcher used is a combination of qualitative and quantitive methods, exploratory and experimental methods to study the websites.

3.1 Research questions
R1. What is the aesthetic quality of websites of political parties in India?
R2. Does the Internet enable smaller parties to compete equally on the Internet?
R3. Do the political parties in India enable public participation and dialogue through their websites?
R4. How effectively do the political parties in India use the online social media platform?

3.2 Utility of research
This research will generate a guideline for political parties in India to optimize their web presence and use Information and Communication Technology while performing the crucial function of connecting the public and the government.

3.3 Aims and Objectives

3.3.1: Aim:
To study web-enability and access features of websites of political parties in India in the context of the concept of democratization of communication.

3.3.2 Objectives:
To study the level of convergence features in the content of the websites of political parties in India.
To find if the political parties in India use the convergent features of the Internet and the mobile medium to enable two-way communication with the public.
To study if the political parties encourage public participation in the democratic process of the country.

3.4: Hypotheses
H1. Websites of political parties in India are not of very high aesthetic value.
H2. The Internet provides an equal opportunity to all political parties to compete online.
H3. Political parties in India do not use their websites to enable public participation in the democratic process.
H4. Websites of political parties in India are more informative than participative in nature.

3.5: Sampling
There are over 1300 political parties registered with the Election Commission of India which include National as well as State level / regional parties. Of these, 37 parties have a presence in the Lok Sabha. Out of these parties, 29 have active websites. The researcher has studied the active websites of political parties represented in the present LokSabha.

3.6: Research Methods
To test the aesthetic quality of the websites, to minimize bias, the researcher conducted two experiments in a computer lab of the IT Department of the University of Mumbai. For both the experiments students of the Department of Communication and Journalism were given a software developed by the researcher using Flash. All participants had volunteered and no monetary compensation was offered to them. They were awarded one academic credit for participating in the experiments. The computers used were of similar configuration with screens of same size. The software showed a screen shot of the political party website for exactly one second, followed by a white screen for one second. The white screen was introduced to diminish the Halo Effect after each screen. This screen was followed by another screen with question which asked the students to note on a printed sheet the aesthetic perception of the website they had seen. The software paused at this screen and proceeded only when the participant clicked on a ‘NEXT’ button on the screen. The screenshots of the websites of political parties were mixed with screenshots of State Government websites and Newspaper websites. The students were not told the purpose behind the study till both the experiments were conducted.

The second experiment was conducted to find if language affects the usability of websites. For this experiment, another set of students were given two websites, one with content in English language and another with content in Marathi language, with similar content in the respective languages. Care was taken to ensure that aesthetically the websites were similar. The students who participated were primarily Marathi students who preferred to appear for their written examinations in Marathi. For each website, the students were given instructions/tasks to carry out. The tasks consisted of clicking on 10 links on each website. The words/links that were chosen were not commonly used words and had to be found on the page to be clicked. When the participant clicked on the last link of the English website, an alert box popped up showing them the time they spent for clicking all the links in seconds. The time was noted by the students in the printed sheet provided to them. On clicking the ‘OK’ button on the popped up window, the page navigated to the Marathi site. Similar tasks were given on the Marathi site and the time taken to complete the tasks was noted. A printed sheet had three more questions asking their preference of language of the websites. The program was written by the researcher in JavaScript.

For all the above experiments, care was taken to ensure that all the participants had computers with a similar configuration.

To study if the websites fit into the F pattern, the researcher captured a screenshot of the home page of every website and overlayed an F shape on top of it, just below the masthead of the website.

Further the websites were studied for their content. This study was only limited to checking the availability of necessary features. Further analysis of the content in terms of language and political communication was avoided. To study the content of the websites the features were broadly classified into the following categories:

3.6.1: Functional Features
The primary function of websites of political parties is to communicate with the public and the party workers. The functional features were further categorized into Participatory, Information, Mobilization and Integration/Networking features. The parameters tested were as follows:
a. Participatory features: The researcher analysed the websites on their participation features like availability of Postal Address, Email, Phone no, Feedback form, Online petitions/protest/complaints/suggestions form, Online opinion polls, Chat room, Guestbook/Forums
b. Information Features: General information about the political system, general information about the elections, party history, information about party organization, party members, party programme – Manifesto, Official documents, Current party news, Newsletter, Press releases, Photo archive, Videos, SMS service, Search Engines
c. Mobilization features: Local candidates, Online fundraising, Online party membership, Online volunteering, Online subscription to party publications, Download of promotional material (e.g. logos, screen savers)
d. Integration/networking features: Intranet/login for members, Links to satellite home pages/partisan websites, Links to politicians’ personal home pages, Commercial links, Links to NGOs, Links to media organizations, Other links (education, jobs, etc.)

3.6.2: Formal features: These included features that any website would ideally have. Additionally, these included technical features like loading time, meta tags, etc. Formal features were further categorized into
e. Accessibility features: Accessibility tested as per W3C Norms.
f. Navigation features: Site map/index, Search engine, broken links, etc.
g. Technical: Loading time on average (56k modem), Website ranking, Font problem, Web server, Meta Tags, Broken links, Website clutter

3.6.3: New Media (Web 2.0) features: The websites of political parties were studied for links for their Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Blogs. The researcher studied Facebook and Twitter accounts of only those parties, which had officially linked these to their websites. Further, every website was visited using a 3G connection on the researcher’s mobile phone and tested to see if a mobile compliant version was available.

3.7: Data Processing
To analyse the data gathered, indices was calculated for each category to compare the different website components in a clear and uniform way. The number of website features found in one category (e.g. information, mobilization, or navigation) were divided by the total number of website elements available in that class, thus resulting in an index quotient for each category between 0 (all elements absent) and 1 (all elements present). All data was analyzed using Microsoft Excel and SPSS software.

3.8: Limitations
This research was limited to a study of the availability of features – design, formal, functional and technical as well as new media. Further, only the websites of parties that were represented in Lok Sabha were studied.

3.9: Further Scope for Research
There is tremendous scope for further research in this subject. A more detailed content analysis of the websites could give a better understanding of how the political parties in India design their websites and how they use them for participation by the public as well as by their own party members. A detailed study while the actual making of a website, if possible, could give valuable insights as to how political parties perceive the medium of Internet. Most political parties update their websites and tend to communicate more during elections. A major research could be carried out during the next Lok Sabha elections. However, this would require a large amount of funding and resources including manpower at disposal.

Chapter 5: Discussion
Analysis of the data to test the aesthetic quality of the websites indicates most of the websites of political parties were of average aesthetic design. Very few were found to be ‘very attractive’ or ‘very unattractive’. Most of the websites follow the F pattern of design, though there are some exceptions. The analysis of the Functional, Formal and Technical features reveals that most of the websites have many features lacking. The websites are more informative than participatory in nature. An analysis of the ranking of the websites shows that many websites do not even appear in International ranking, let alone Indian ranking. The number of visitors on the major parties is far more than those of minor or fringe parties, giving credence to the normalization theory rather than the equalization theory. However, in terms of design, the equalization theory does hold true, that the minor and the fringe parties do compete equally in terms of design and aesthetic quality of the websites. Most websites do not conform to W3C accessibility standards (World Wide Consortium). Very few political parties in India have Facebook or Twitter pages. A study of the Facebook and Twitter accounts reveals that though the parties post information on events on these pages, they do not respond to posts and queries made by visitors. There appears to be no two-way interaction between the political parties and the public on the social media pages. Only one political party – Communist party of India had a mobile compliant website.

Chapter 6: Conclusion
In a world that communicates increasingly through the Internet and mobile phones, the websites of political parties in India are lacking in their participatory features, thus impeding the process of a two-way dialogue with the publics. The fickle and anonymous nature of the Internet communication would further distance the Internet natives, who have been using the Internet almost since they could read and write. This phenomenon could adversely affect public participation by creating an impediment in the democratic process.  Though studies on political participation through the Internet and websites have been inconclusive, there is evidence to show that though not directly affecting the power equations, online social media have acted as a catalyst to political change. With growing number of Internet and mobile users in India, political parties, which systematically tap these sources of communication, stand to gain leverage during the future elections, at the same time bringing in a larger participation of the public in the political process of the vibrant democracy of India. 

Bibliography
Ackland, R., & Gibson, R. (2006). Hyperlinks and horizontal political communication on the WWW: The untold story of parties online*. Research School of Social Sciences, The Australian National University .
Aday, S., Farell, H., Lynch, M., Sides, J., Kelly, J., & Zuckerman, E. (2010). Blogs and Bullets, New Media in Contentious Politics. United States Institute of Peace.
Allan, S. (2004). News Culture, 2nd ed. Questia, Web, 3 May 2011. Maidenhead, England: Open University Press.
Asia.Com: Asia Encounters the Internet (: ) 11, 2003New YorkRoutledge Curzon
Beckwith, N. E., & Donald, L. R. (1975). The Importance of Halo Effects in Multi-Attribute Attitude Models. Journal of Marketing Research , 12 (3), 265-275.
Benson, C. (2004 ). The importance of mother tongue-based schooling for educational quality. Stockholm University. UNESCO.
Bergstrom, J. C., Olmsted-Hawala, E. L., Chen, J. M., & Murphy, E. D. (2011). Interaction, Usability and Aesthetics: Exploring Web Usage and Selection Criteria Among Male and Female Students. Journal of Usability Studies , 9-30.
Best, S., & Kreuger, B. S. (2005). Analyzing Representativeness of Internet Political Participation. Political Behavior , 27 (2), 183-216.
Casey, B., Casey, N., Calvery, B., French, L., & Lewis, J. (2002). Television Studies: The Key Concepts, 129, Questia, Web, 3 May 2011. London: Routledge.
Census of India Provisional Population Totals Census 2011. (n.d.). Retrieved February 25, 2012, from Census of India: http://www.censusindia.gov.in/2011-prov-results/indiaatglance.html
Chandramouli, C. (2011). RURAL URBAN DISTRIBUTION OF POPULATION. Census of India 2011.
Christ, M., & R., K. (2002). An Empirical Analysis of Website Stickiness. Gdansk, Poland: Proceedings of the 10th European Conference on Information Systems, Information Systems and the Future of the Digital Economy, ECIS 2002.
Clarke, B. (2003). Report: Farmers and Scientists: A Case Study in Facilitating Communication. Science Communication .
Clifford, M. M., & Walster, E. (1973). Effect of Physical attractiveness on Teachers' Expectations. Sociology of Education , 46, 248-258.
Coleman, S. (2001). The Transformation of Citizenship. In B. Axfors, & R. Huggins, New Media and Politics (pp. 120-137). Sage Publications Ltd.
Color and Psychological Functioning: The Effect of Red on Performance Attainment2007Journal of Experimental Psychology 1361154-168
Community business: the internet in remote Australian Indigenous Communities2009New Media and Society
Condit, C. M., Ferguson, A., & Kassel, R. (2001). An Exploratory Study of the Impact of News Headlines on Genetic Determinism. Science Communication , 379-399.
Coomaraswamy, A. K. (1961). THE THEORY OF ART IN ASIA. In M. Philipson, AESTHETICS TODAY (p. 66). Cleveland and New York: Meridian Books.
Coursaris, C. K., Sarah, S. J., & Watrall, E. (2009). An Empirical Investigation of Color Temperature and Gender Effects on Web Aesthetics. Journal of Usability Studies , 3 (3), 103-117.
Cyr, D., Head, M., & Larios, H. (2010). Colour appeal in website design within and across cultures: A multi-method evaluation. International Journal of Human computer Studies , 1-21.
Cyra, D., Head, M., & Ivanov, A. (2006). Design aesthetics leading to m-loyalty in mobile commerce. Information & Management , 43, 950-963.
Dahlgren, P. (2001). The Transformation of Democracy? In B. Axford, & R. Huggins, New Media and Politics (pp. 74-99). London: Sage Publications Ltd.
DarlingWolf, F. (2004 ). Virtually Multicultural: Trans-Asian Identity and Gender in an International Fan Community of a Japanese Star. New Media & Society , 507-528.
De Angeli, A., Sutcliffe, A., & Hartmann, J. (2006). Interaction, Usability and Aesthetics:What Influences Users’ Preferences? In S. B. John M. Carroll (Ed.), Proceedings of the Conference on Designing Interactive Systems,University Park, PA, USA, June 26-28, 2006. Centre for HCI Design, School of Informatics, University of Manchester.
Dictionary.com. (n.d.). Retrieved December 03, 2011, from Dictionary.com: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ISP
Dijk, A. V. (1988). News as Discourse Questia, Web, 3 May 2011. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Dow, J. (2008, June 25). The role of emotion-arousal in Aristotle’s Rhetoric. Retrieved February 06, 2012, from St. Andrwes University: http://hdl.handle.net/10023/501
Edelstein, A. S. (1997). Total Propaganda: From Mass Culture to Popular Culture, 203, Questia, Web, 3 May 2011. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1997.
Electronic Media Criticism - Applied Perspectives2000Mahwah, New JerseyLAWRENCE ERLBAUM ASSOCIATES
Ferber, P., Foltz, F., & Pugliese, R. (2003). The Politics of State Legislature Web Sites: Making E-Government More Participatory. Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society , 157-167.
Galtung, J., & Ruge, M. H. (1965). The Structure of Foreign News. Journal of Peace Research , 64-91.
Gibson, R. K., & McAllister, I. (2011). A Net Gain? Web 2.0 Campaigning in the Australian 2010 Election. Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. Seattle, WA.
Goethe, J. (n.d.). handprint : color temperature. Retrieved January 30, 2012, from handprint: http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/color12.html
Gomez, J., & Muhamad, R. (2010). New Media and Electoral Democracy: Online Opposition in Malaysia and Singapore.
Grabe, M. E., Zhou, S., & Barnett, B. (2001). Explicating Sensationalism in Television News: Content and the Bells and Whistles of Form, Questia, Web, 12 May 2011. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media , 45-49.
Graf, J. (2008). New Media - The Cutting Edge of Campaign Communications. In R. Semiatin, Campaigns on the Cutting Edge (pp. 49-66). CQ Press.
Griffin, E. (2011). A First Look at Communication Theory. McGraw-Hill Companies.
Hall, R. H., & Hanna, P. (2004). The Impact of Web Page Text-Background Color Combinations on Readability, Retention, Aesthetics, and Behavioral Intention. Behavior and Information Technology .
Hara, N., & Jo, Y. (2007). Internet politics: A comparative analysis of U.S. and South Korea presidential campaigns. Retrieved from First Monday, An Online Peer Reviewed Journal: http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/2005/1880
Hartmann, J., Sutcliffe, A., & de Angeli, A. (2007). Towards a theory of user judgement of aesthetics and user interface quality. Special Issue: Aesthetics of Interaction , 1-30.
Herrnson, P. S., Stokes-Brown, Kai, A., & Hindman, M. (2007). Campaign Politics and the Digital Divide. Political Research Quarterly , 60 (1), 31-42.
Hibberd, M. (2003). E-Participation, Broadcasting and Democracy in the UK. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into new Media Technologies , 48-65.
Hijmans, E., Pleijter, A., & Wester, F. (2003). Covering Scientific Research in Dutch Newspapers. Science Communication , 25; 153.
India Internet Usage. (n.d.). Retrieved February 29, 2012, from Internet World Stats: http://www.internetworldstats.com/asia/in.htm
India’s Newspaper Revolution: Capitalism, Politics, and the Indian-Language Press 1977–1999,2004The Journal of Asian Studies 6302537-538
Indian entertainment and Media outlook 2010. (n.d.). Retrieved January 2011, from pwc.com: http://www.pwc.com/in/publications/indian_entertainment_media_outlook_2010.html
Innis, H. A. (1964). The Bias of Communication. 1951. Intro. Marshall McLuhan. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Internet and Mobile Association of India. (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2012, from http://www.iamai.in/PRelease_detail.aspx?nid=2498&NMonth=3&NYear=2012
Internet and Mobile Association of India. (n.d.). IAMAI Media Press Release. Retrieved March 20, 2012, from Internet and Mobile Association of India: http://www.iamai.in/PRelease_detail.aspx?nid=2247&NMonth=4&NYear=2011
Internet for Development? Patterns of use among Internet café customers in Indonesia2006Information Development 224278-291
Internet skills and the digital divide2011New Media Society 893-911
Jesse Alpert & Nissan Hajaj, Software Engineers, Web Search Infrastructure Team. (n.d.). The Official Google Blog. Retrieved January 03, 2012, from googleblog.blogspot.com: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/07/we-knew-web-was-big.html
Josephson, S., Barnes, S., & Lipton, M. (2010). Visualizaing the Web. New York: Peter Yang Publishing Inc.
Joshi, D., & Avasthi, V. (2007). Position Paper – Mobile Internet UX for Developing Countries. Mobile HCI .
Karandikar, M. (2009). Indian Political Parties Miss the Convergence Opportunity. In M. Patairiya, & A. Dutta, Science Meets Communication.
Kaya, N., & Epps, H. H. (2004). Relationship between color and emotion: A study of college students. College Journal,niversity of Georgia .
Kees Brants, K. V. (2011). Political Communication in Postmodern Democracy : Challenging the Primacy of Politics / Edited By. Hampshire, UK: PALGRAVE MACMILLAN.
Keniston, K. (2003). The Four Digital Divides.
Kim, H., & Fesenmaier, D. R. (2008, january 14). Persuasive Design of Destination Web Sites:An Analysis of First Impression. Journal of Travel Research OnlineFirst as doi:10.1177/0047287507312405 .
Kim, H.-S. (2007). PEP/IS - A New Model for Communicative Effectiveness of Science. Science Communication, Volume 28 Number 3 , 287-313.
Kotler, P. (2001). Marketing Management, The Millennium Edition, Page 303. New Delhi: Prentice Hall of India Pvt. Ltd.
Kulkikova, S., & Perlmutter, D. (2007). Blogging Down the Dictator? The International Communication Gazette , 29-50.
Language: Define Language. (n.d.). Retrieved February 29, 2012, from Dictionary.com: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/language
Lappas, G., Kleftodimos, A., & Yannas, P. (2011). Greek Parties and Web 2.0. International Journal of Electronic Governance 2011 , 4 (1/2), 136 - 155.
Lee, S., & Koubek, R. J. (2008). Understanding user preferences based on usability and aesthetics before and after actual use. Interacting with Computers , 22, 530-543.
Lilleker, D. G., & Jackson, N. (2010 ). The UK European Parliament online campaign: the tail that never wagged?
Lim, Y. S., & Park, H. W. (2011 ). How do congressional members appear on the web? Tracking the web visibility of South Korean politicians. Government Information Quarterly, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2011.03.031 , 28 (4).
Lim, Y. S., & Park, H. W. (2011 ). Identifying Web Visibility Issues on Political Innovation System:A Case Study of South Korea’s National Assembly Members. Triple Helix Internation Conference. Palo Alto.
Lindgaard, G., & Dudek, C. (2002). User's Satisfaction, aesthics and usablitiy: Beyong Reducntionism In J. Hammond, T.Gross & J. Wesson (Eds.) " Usability gaining a competetive edge". Montreal, Canada: Proceeindgs, IFIP, 17th World Computer Congress.
Lindgaard, G., Fernandes, G., Dudek, C., & Brown, J. (2006). Attention Web designers: You have 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression! Behaviour & Information Technology , 25(2), 115-126.
Lippmann, W. (1922 ). Public opinion, Macmillan .
Long, K. T. (2002). Turning Piety into Hard Cash: The Marketing of Nineteenth-Century Revivalism," God and Mammon: Protestants, Money, and the Market, 1790-1860, ed. Mark A. Noll, 237,Questia, Web, 3 May 2011. New York: Oxford University Press.
Macedo-Rouet, M., Rouet, J.-F., Epstein, I., & Fayard, P. (2003). Effects of Online Reading on Popular Science Comprehension. Science Communication , 99-125.
Margolis, M., & Moreni-Riaño, G. (2009). The Prospect of Internet Democracy. Farnham, England: Ashgate Publishing Limited.
McLuhan, M. (1962). The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Miller, J. D., Augenbraun, E., Schulhof, J., & Kimmel, L. G. (2006). Adult Science Learning from Local Television Newscasts. Science Communication , 216-236.
Minerva Working Group 52005Quality Principles for Cultural Websites: a HandbookMinerva Working Group 5
Mirandilla, M. (2010). Cybercampaigning for 2010: The Use and Effectiveness of Websites and Social Networking Sites as Campaign Platforms for the 2010 Philippine Presidential Election.
Moeller, S. D. (1999). In ‘Compassion Fatigue: How the Media Sell Disease, Famine, War and Death’. New York and London: Routledge .
Nielsen, J. (2006). F Shaped Pattern for Reading Web Content. Retrieved May 30, 2009, from useit.com: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/reading_pattern.html
Nielsen, J. (1993). Usability Engineering. San Diego: Morgan Kaufmann.
Nisbett, R. E., & Wilson, T. D. (1977 ). The Halo Effect: Evidence for Unconscious Alteration of Judgments. Journal of Feisonality and Social Psychology , 35 (4), 250-256.
Norman, D. A. (2005 ). Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things. Basic Books.
Norris, P. (2003 ). Preaching to the Converted?: Pluralism, Participation and Party Websites. Party Politics , 9-21.
Norris, P. (2000 ). The Emerging Internet Era. In P. Norris, A Virtuous Circle: Political Communications in Post-Industrial Societies.
O’Connell, T. A., & Murphy, E. D. (2007). The Usability Engineering Behind User-Centered Processes for Web Site Development Life Cycles. In Z. Panayiotis, & S. Kurniawan, Human Computer Interaction Research in Web Design and Evaluation (pp. 1-21 ). London: Idea Group Publishing.
OECD. (2007 ). Policy Brief, The Economic Survey of India. ORGANISATION FOR ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT.
Okamoto, T. (2003). Use of Campaign Websites by Political Candidates: Quantitative Analysis of Candidates’ Websites. Journal of Informatics , 1-36.
Ostgaard, E. (1965). Factors Influencing the Flow of News. Journal of Peace Research , 39-63.
Paolillo, J., Pimienta, D., & Prado, D. (2005 ). Measuring Linguistic Diversity on the Internet. (J. Paolillo, D. Pimienta, D. Prado, & e. al., Eds.) Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
Pimienta, D. (2005). Linguistic Diversity in Cyberspace – Models for Development and Measurement. In J. Paolillo, D. Pimienta, & D. Prado, Measuring Linguistic Diversity on the Internet. Canada: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Ranade, S. (2007). What Makes News in the Indian Media? – A recipient point of view of political news in India.
Raza, G., Singh, S., & Dutt, B. (2002). Public, Science, and Cultural Distance. Science Communication 23 , 293.
Robins, D., & Holmes, J. (2008 ). Aesthetics and credibility in web site design. Information Processing and Management , 44, 386-399.
Römmele, A. (2003 ). Political Parties, Party Communication and New Information and Communication Technologies. 70-90.
Sassi, S. (2001). The Transformation of Public Sphere? In B. Axford, & R. Huggins, New Media and Politics (pp. 100-119). Sage Publications Ltd.
Schulz, W. (1982). News structure and people's awareness of political events. Gazette , 139-153.
Schweitzer, E. (2005). German Party Websites in the 2002 National Elections. European Journal of Communication , 327-347.
Semetko, H. A., & Krasnoboka, N. (2003 ). The Political Role of the Interet in Societies in Transition : Russia and Ukraine Compared. Party Politics , 9-77.
Serf, V. G. (1990). Brief History of Internet. Retrieved June 3, 2010, from Internet Society: http://www.internetsociety.org/internet/internet-51/history-internet/brief-history-internet
Singh, K. (n.d.). Outlook India. Retrieved May 11, 2011, from http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?220785: http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?220785
Skutnabb-Kangas, T. (2009, April). NFCS Newsletter - Special Issue on Tribal Education , 32, pp. 4-6.
Small, T. (2008). Equal Access, Unequal Success - Major and Minor Canadian Parties on the Net. PARTY POLITICS , 14 (1), 51-70.
Smith, P., & Chen, P. J. (2010). Campaigning and Digital Media in Alberta: Emerging Practices and Democratic Outcomes? Canadian Political Science Review , 4 (2).
Sonderegger, A., & Sauer, J. (2010). The influence of design aesthetics in usability testing: Effects on user performance. Applied Ergonomics , 41, 403-410.
Soon, C. (2010). Politics as usual? De-equalizing rhetoric of political parties on the World Wide Web. Journal of Contemporary Eastern Asia , 9 (1), 1-21.
Strandberg, K. (2006). Parties, Candidates and Citizens On-Line. Åbo Akademi University Press.
Subramanian, A. (1988). The Aesthetics of Wonder. Delhi: Motilal Banarasidass.
Sundar, S. S., Kalyanaraman, S., & Brown, J. (2003 ). Explicating Website Interactivity. Communication Research , 30-59.
The Economist. (1996 ). Language and Electronics the coming global tongue. The Economist .
Tracking the Life and Death of News. (n.d.). Retrieved May 11, 2011, from Science Daily: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090713170759.htm Accessed on May 02, 2011
Tractinsky, N., Katz, A., & Ikar, D. (2004). What is beautiful is usable. Industrial Engineering and Management, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva 84105, Israel , 16.
Tuch, A., Bargas-Avila, J. A., & Kalus, O. (2010). Symmetry and aesthetics in website design: It’s a man’s business. Computers in Human Behavior , 26, 1831-1837.
Ungar, S. (2008). Global Bird Flu Communication: Hot Crisis and Media. Science Communication , 472.
Vaccari, C. (2008 ). Italian Parties' Websites in the 2006 Elections. European Journal of Communication , 23-69.
Valenti, J. (1999). Commentary: How Well Do Scientists Communicate to Media? Science Communication , 172-175.
Ward, M. (2007). India Infrastructure Report.
Ward, M. (2001). Journalism Online. Boston: Focal.
Warf, B., & Grimes, J. (1997 ). Counterhegemonic Discourses and the Internet . Geographical Review, Vol. 87, No. 2, Cyberspace and Geographical Space , 87 (2), 259-274.
Weigold, D., & F, M. (2002). Advancing Science Communication: A Survey of Science Communicators. Science Communication , 310-333.
Weigold, M. (2001). Communicating Science: A Review of the Literature. Science Communication , 164-187.
Welp, Y., & Wheatley, J. (2009 ). The effect of ICTs and new media on Political Party Systems: more democracy or more populism? ECPR General Conference. Postdam.
World Wide Consortium. (n.d.). Retrieved March 3, 2012, from W3C: http://www.w3.org/
Wring, D., & Horrocks, I. (2001). Virtual Hype? The Transformation of Political Parties? In B. Axford, & R. Huggins, New Media and Politics (pp. 202-209). Sage Publications Ltd.
Zimmerman, D., Akerelrea, C., Jane, S., & O’Keefe, G. (2006 ). Communicating Forest Management Science and Practices through Visualized and Animated Media Approaches to Community Presentations: An Exploration and Assessment. Science Communication , 514-541.

Friday, February 15, 2013

A New Beginning


On Valentine's Day, February 14, 2013, The University of Mumbai declared that I am now a Doctor in Philosophy, a Ph.D. in Communication and Journalism.  

So what now? I know many in our profession treat this as the end. For me, who has come back to academics after spending 20 years in the industry and in business, this is just the beginning. Working on a Ph.D. thesis is not a task, its a pleasure. It is also an eye opener. I thought I knew web designing well, until I was humbled by the tremendous amount of work research scholars have done around the world. The quest for Ph.D. degree has opened up so many paths to choose from, so many subjects to study, that I will not be able to travel even a few of them. Though I did get frustrated several times during the study, I am certainly not tired, rather, I feel invigorated.

A lot of credit goes to Dr. Sanjay Ranade for introducing research in the department, pursuing it, and then making us all do it. You have to see the way his eyes light up behind those thick glasses when he discusses research! Thanks again, Sanjay. I would never have imaged that I would ever be a 'Doctor'. 

My guide, Dr. Kiran Thakur has not just guided me, but shepherded me through the frustrating period of complete ignorance to a glimmer of light here and there. His method of gentle pinpricks worked well to egg me on and complete my research quite well in time. I am sure he must have despaired several times during those three years, especially when I would go into a periods of doing nothing, and then suddenly sending him enough material to give him sleepless nights. He must have thought that I had lost it, when I suddenly decided to sing in an orchestra and did not work on my research for almost 3 months. But he understood the compulsions under which I was working, the work load I have in the department and I don't remember him ever reprimanded me.

My friends and colleagues in the Department, were always there all the time. Dr. Meenakshi Upadhyay, who also got her doctorate on the same day, always lent a patient ear when I discussed my subject. She went through equally frustrating periods doing her own research. Dr. Sunder Rajdeep kept reminding me of how to be patient, considering the time it took for his RRC to be held, Prof. Daivata Patil, who gave suggestions in data analysis.

My father, Shri. Manohar V. Karandikar, supported me in his own way, silently watching and subtly suggesting that I eat on time. The wall of support was always there. My son, Tejas, did all that a growing up teenager should do…. bunked classes, did not submit his journals in time, made me go to meet his professors… probably all normal things for youngsters today. But I realized that I have a grown-up son when he helped me put together the website snapshots for my observations chapter in the thesis, working patiently and diligently, without me ever having to remind him. He simply understood the seriousness and the importance of my work. 

My wife, Manjusha was my biggest support system. All frustrations, irritations, had the tendency of dissolving almost immediately, with just a smile from her. I spent the last summer vacation, holed up in my room day and night, with no time table, writing my thesis, and with only research on my mind. I discussed my research with her, without ever bothering to know if she was interested. The tensions and the frustrations remained, till I finally got my letter last week. She took it all, giving unflinching, unconditional, and loving support. I know how lucky I am to have her as my best friend, and wife.

Several people helped immensely. Dr. Srivaramanghai and her colleagues from the IT Department, Dr. Ujjwala Barve from University of Pune, Dr. Sudhir Gavhane from Aurangabad helped me in conducting the crucial experiments in my research. I have chewed Mr. Ajit Sawant's brains for gaining insights into the political system, have spoken to Dr. Vinay Sahasrabudhe for his views on new media. Shri. Rahul Gadekar helped in analysing my data using SPSS. A simple note from Dr. Lance Bennett help me in formalizing my research topic in the first place.

My students willingly helped my in my experiments, patiently working on the software I had made, giving suggestions, testing it. All this would not have been possible without the support from all my students, past and present. Dear students, I am, because you are.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Microsoft may yet win the tablet war? Here's an interesting article from TechRepublic

Source:

http://m.techrepublic.com/blog/tablets/microsoft-may-still-win-the-tablet-war/2709?tag=nl.e101&s_cid=e101

Microsoft may still win the tablet war

By Patrick Gray | January 9, 2013, 10:34 AM PSTAfter spending time with Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet, I was left with more questions than answers. The further I considered Microsoft’s tablet strategy, the more I wondered if it were genius or madness driving its recent moves. Depending on what we see in the next few months, it just might be the former.

Leaving the home court

Surface was most perplexing in that Microsoft aced the hardware of the device — an area most pundits, myself included, expected it to miss completely. The device was sleek and well-assembled, and it brought unique and noteworthy features to the table rather than simply trying to copy market leaders. If only the software were on par with the hardware, I’d gladly slip the Surface into my bag and leave the laptop at home for the majority of my work and personal travel.The OS was particularly troubling, considering Microsoft essentially invented the tablet category a decade ago, only to let it languish until Apple ate its lunch and dominated the market in a matter of months. While all this is old news, and Windows RT remains what seems to be a compromised OS, there are some interesting things happening on the software front.

An Office for everyone

Microsoft began its life as an applications software company, achieving dominance in the desktop space through luck and tenacity. People often forget that Microsoft set out to build applications for a variety of platforms rather than create the one that would dominate desktop computing for a generation. While Microsoft has released its Office suite for some competing platforms, the most interesting missing links in the Office world are mobile versions of the software for iOS and Android. There have been enough rumors and rumblings about an iOS version of Office that the rumor has a measure of credibility.Microsoft also seems a bit more pragmatic and less dogmatic than Apple, and it has released several applications for the iOS platform, from relatively innocuous photography applications to versions of its SkyDrive cloud-based file storage platform. SkyDrive is available for all major OSs, and Microsoft’s cloud strategy points toward open platforms rather than a walled garden like Apple’s iCloud. With a Microsoft-based cloud storage service already gaining traction on a variety of platforms, mobile versions of Office don’t seem as much of a stretch as they might have been a few months ago.Returning to its roots around application software might not be a bad strategy for Microsoft. Clearly, Surface has not lit the world afire in its first incarnation, so launching popular applications on a variety of platforms would keeps Microsoft relevant in the enterprise and personal space, no matter which tablet device an enterprise ends up selecting.There’s also the possibility of a halo effect should Microsoft deliver a quality mobile Office experience on a variety of platforms. The iPod music player and iPhone arguably sold more Mac computers than any ad campaign, and a suite of compelling software and services might make a case for a deeper Microsoft experience, especially in the enterprise.

The end of the platform

While the proclamations that the “desktop is dead” have not been as dire as predicted, many applications are shifting to the cloud- and browser-based interfaces. In mobile, especially, core application logic and data are cloud-based for most popular applications. Tablets and smartphones generally don’t have the “baggage” of legacy applications that have saddled our desktop computing experience, so in many ways, mobile operating systems are more likely to fade toward irrelevancy beyond running cloud-based applications. If Microsoft can rekindle its multi-platform application heritage and combine it with a strong hardware competency, it might successfully win the longer tablet war, even if its early efforts sputter.Previous Post: Do Android tablets dream of Electric Sheep? An M2M futureNext Post: Keep track of mileage and travel expenses with TripLogView Full Site© CBS Interactive Inc. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Old media New Media 2 - The one's that changed the game

The Balance of Payment crisis in the 80's forced the Indian government to introduce several reforms opening up the economy and placing the country on the 'globalization' map. The 'Licence Raj' partly ended and several industries got a boost. The Information Technology and the Communication Technology got a further boost with the appointment of Mr. Sam Pitroda. The yellow coloured STD PCO's that dot every corner of the roadside around the country are because of Mr. Pitroda's vision.

Apart from the parallel evolution of technologies in computers, Internet, cameras and mobile phones which converted the audiences into producers, three major 'events' are also responsible for the way we distribute digital content and communicate with each other in India.

The first one was in 1990-91 when Gulshan Kumar, through his T-Series produced and sold audio cassettes at a fraction of the price at which they were generally sold. If I remember right, music cassettes used to cost anywhere between Rs.100 - 150; Gulshan Kumar turned the industry on its head by selling the audio cassettes of his film Aashiqui for just Rs.25/-. Everyone could now afford to buy legal and non-pirated music!

When Reliance said 'Karlo Duniya Mutthhi Mein' in the later part of 1990's, making incoming calls free while offering mobiles at Rs.500, it forced the industry to lower rates and ultimately offer free incoming calls. I am sure I wouldn't have been able to afford to pay for incoming calls.

The third big one was Moser Baer, which changed the game again when they brought out video DVDs at a price of Rs.34 when they were selling at a minimum 150 bucks. And they have good titles too!

I am waiting for the next big one, the Aakash Tablet. I have mentioned this in my earlier posts too. This one is causing a lot of heartburn to millions who have already 'bought' it. "Inteha ho gayi, intezar ki".

To the manufacturers and Mr.Kapil Sibal I say this- We have the inclination and the patience, you have the time; but all of us have used up most of it. So hurry. Please. At least for the millions of students.

Note for my students: This one I have typed between Borivali and Dadar, again in a criwded train between 7.10 and now, 7.50 a.m. So when will you send me a link to your blog? The one which you type and upload while travelling?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Old Media New Media 1

This is in continuation with my earlier post on new and emerging media technologies.

New and emerging technologies have changed the way we consume and produce content. The technology has become advanced, cheaper and accesible to us, the common public. This has to be looked at from several angles.  

I bought my first computer in 1992 for Rs.35000/-. Many will be surprised by the configuration. It was a 40386 processor, meaning it had a processing power of 386 MHz, much lesser than many mobile phones available today. The computer had a whopping 120MB (Yes, no typo here. Its MB and not GB) and 4 MB of RAM! On that computer I could easily use CorelDraw and PageMaker for my DTP work. It was the best PC in the neighbourhood.  

I also remember making my first video using a PC with a 533 MHz processor and 512 MB RAM. I can vouch for the fact that the video can hold its own against any video I have made recently. The only real difference is that it took very long to render the video the. It took about 24 hrs to render that 5 min video with all sorts of SFX. It could take 24 mins now.   Today too, a PC costs about the same if not lesser, but you could get a processing power of 3GHz, 500 GB HDD and 3GB RAM. You get advanced software to create fascinating images and videos.  

Why just computers, if you have a reasonably priced mobile phone, you still get more processing power than my first computer. Take for example this photograph I have clicked today as I was walking towards the Raj Bhavan's gate after a meeting. The sky was grey so there was very little colour. I clicked the photograph and then edited it with the inbuilt photo editor in my phone. I cropped it, increased the saturation and tweaked the contrast a bit. And viola! I have a superb photograph. This photo editor is a standard Android App. You also have the Photoshop App for Android available for free!

The point is, I would not have been able to do this so quickly on my older computer and probably would have taken longer even on my present one, because I would first have to start up Photoshop or some other picture editor, do the edit and then upload it. This one, I could do literally in a minute or two using my  mobile phone, barring the time taken to type this post. I am in a crowded train, travelling back home as I am typing this.

Ok, I reached Borivali while typing this and the battery is down to a few seconds, almost ridiculing my post on new technology. Will have to charge it to post this. See the irony of it all. But still.....

One for the new media technologies!



Monday, July 16, 2012

New Media = Digital Media = 'Social' Media?

Is 'New Media' always digital? Is it really 'social'?

Well, in contemporary times, probably yes. But then, wasn't print a new medium when it was invented?  And radio, and then television? With every 'new' medium, there have been social, political and economic changes, because we have been exposed to different thoughts, ideas and challenges with each of them. With every new medium, there have been changes in how we receive, use and disseminate information.

The difference between the 'older' new media and the newer ones is that the content is now stored in a binary form. It is now digital, rather than analogue. Instead of storing data on tapes and records, we now store data in microchips. Instead of data being 'fixed' it is now in a state of flux. This enables content to be converted from one form to another easily and equally easily distributed allowing trans-mediality.

Apart from the way content is stored, even the way in which it is produced has changed. Because the equipment required to produce content was expensive, only large organizations or people with deep pockets could even think of producing content. All that has changed with digitization of the processes. Today, one can produce a film on a shoe-string budget, make prints and distribute copies at very low costs, record an audio and play it without costly equipment. The audiences, once passive receivers of content have now become producers of content themselves.

The next few years are bound to be interesting. With cloud computing and crowd sourcing it is going to be easier than ever to produce content. The degree of convergence provided by the Internet and mobile phones are proportional to the degree of divergence they provide. The audiences are being increasingly redefined along with the producers.

The devices used for production are getting smaller and cheaper, with even the economically and socially backward marginalized members of the society becoming capable of producing as well as distributing content.

Is this phase going to bring about social and political changes? Will the centralized system of information dissemination going to be really challenged? Are these changes going to make the power centre answerable?

Is there going to be a 'New Media Revolution'?


Sunday, August 7, 2011

How News Organizations Can Create a Mobile-First Strategy

Came across an interesting post. This is a must for anyone wanting to survive in the media industry of the future.


How News Organizations Can Create a Mobile-First Strategy

by Steve Buttry
Published Dec. 10, 2009 3:43 pm
Updated Mar. 4, 2011 9:00 am

I used to watch the crowds in airport lounges when I traveled, studying how people read newspapers. Even with circulation declining, you could see people reading newspapers intently. Especially after 9/11, people would have plenty of time to read while waiting for flights, and newsstands stocked a variety of papers to choose from.
Look around an airport lounge now. You’ll see more people looking at their phones than holding newspapers.
When I see people in the airport lounge, I know time is only accelerating with each tap of their thumbs.
My concern over this acceleration pushed me last month to call for news companies to pursue a mobile-first strategy. New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen asked me to “describe what a ‘mobile first’ newsroom would do differently.” That’s what I’m trying to do here, start the difficult but important job of answering the question: How do we need to work differently (not just in the newsroom, Jay) to command the attention of those people reading and tapping small screens?
A successful mobile-first strategy will require effective work by reporters, photojournalists, designers, technologists, sales and marketing people, and management.
The mobile-first strategy needs to embrace new relationships with the community, as described in my blueprint for the Complete Community Connection. That principle is fundamental to mobile-first success.
As with Web operations, a crucial question will be whether mobile opportunities should be the responsibility of a separate operation focused exclusively on mobile or whether the full operation needs to share mobile responsibilities. I believe if news companies want to succeed in pursuing mobile opportunities, we need to make this success the top priority and responsibility throughout the company.
Certainly some of the companies disrupting the news business will be focused exclusively on mobile (or mobile and Web) opportunities, and some news companies might succeed with small mobile-only operations. I recognize the cultural obstacles will be huge, but I believe the greatest opportunity for success lies in converting an entire existing news operation to a mobile-first strategy, so that is what I will address here.
I should also humbly acknowledge here that the best I can do is point a direction and share some ideas. More answers will come from the people pursuing mobile opportunities and learning from their successes and mistakes. This is my proposal to move all of us in that direction.
Reporting, Writing & Photojournalism
Journalists will need to change how they gather, process and distribute information.
Every journalist must quickly get serious and fluent with metadata, data about data (think of the story behind the story). This will feel scary and unreasonable at first. Even the term is a bit scary. But reporters and photographers have always gathered more information than we shared with readers.
We often have to tell editors about a story or photo, to help editors understand the context and connections, so they can understand where and how to play a story. That’s sort of what metadata does; it tells the computer, or the phone, about the story (or photo, video or piece of information), so the mobile device knows what to give the user when and where. Think of metadata as context.
Location. Where has always been a journalism fundamental, the fourth of the five W’s. Well, in the mobile-first world, it might become the first W.
Tagging. Where isn’t the only W we need to provide in the metadata. We need to tag content efficiently with the other relevant W’s: Who is pictured in this photo or video? What is happening? When did it happen? Sometimes why or how or howmuch will need to be in the tags as well, and some of those questions will need to be answered many times, for each person in a story, video or database or for each date in a narrative story.
Investigative. Newspaper journalists tend to equate investigative journalism with long text stories, so at first blush it might seem that a mobile-first strategy would downplay or eliminate investigative reporting. But effective watchdog reporting deepens a news organization’s bond with a community and it must be part of the mobile-first strategy.
Some ways that I think mobile-first strategy might shape investigative reporting:
Crowdsourcing
E-mails, texts and tweets
Video, audio and databases need to be part of the presentation of investigative projects. These can be presented effectively on mobile devices and should be designed primarily for the small screen.
Amazon has a Kindle iPhone app people use for reading books on their phones. I do expect long-form writing to continue to be part of mobile-first journalism.
Read more about a mobile-first strategy for reporting, writing and photojournalism, including data, archives, social media and training
Design
In a mobile-first operation, design may be both a journalism function and a technology function, or it might be a separate area of the operation, combining both skills. However you organize, you need to make mobile service the priority of those involved in design.
A mobile-first operation recognizes that the best design for the larger screen of a laptop or desktop computer isn’t the best design for an iPod or cell phone. You need to both minimize staff time spent in Web design, to free resources for mobile design, and keep mobile Web consumption in mind when you do spend staff resources on Web design (for instance, simpler display and larger headlines and body type will make for easier mobile Web use).
While vastly better print design delivers only a marginally better user experience (if at all), design is critical to the mobile user experience. Type that is too small or an application that loads slowly or is confusing to use can doom a mobile project. But a “killer app” can develop viral momentum as users talk, tweet and blog their delight. The mobile-first operation needs designers with visual and technical skills to design new products and to carry out the daily execution of existing products.
Sometimes we will want to do multiple versions of content. For instance, we might change text size on a video clip so the TV and Web versions are the right size for those screens but the mobile version has bigger type that is easier to read on the small screen. But in a mobile-first operation, if you can take the time to make only one version, you make the font large enough for the mobile screen and let web and TV users get used to larger text.
Technology
The information technology staff of a news operation faces multiple, constant and often conflicting demands from throughout the operation. Priorities need to be set to ensure that technology experts, whether part of a central IT staff or assigned to a department such as a newsroom, have the training and time to help other departments execute an effective mobile-first strategy.
Development. The Web-first operation (or even a print-centric operation with a Web site) can make constant demands on Web developers. This staff resource needs to shift heavily into mobile development. To the extent that you still commit staff time to Web development, you need the training and priorities to ensure that all products developed for the Web provide a strong user experience for mobile Web use.
Applications. A news operation needs staff developers who can quickly and effectively develop mobile applications. The evolution of mobile devices will dictate whether you can develop effective applications that work on multiple devices or whether you have to develop separate apps for iPhones, Droids, BlackBerries and other products. But applications appear likely to become the primary platform for content and commerce in the mobile world, so they need to become a high priority for the mobile-first operation.
Apps will be important in several ways. You will use apps to deliver content. For instance, you might have apps for specific parts of your routine content, such as a calendar app, obituaries app, local sports team app or business directory app. Or you may develop apps for an investigative project, a new interactive database or for coverage of a big event (for instance, Gazette Communications might develop an Orange Bowl app, providing access to a variety of content about the Hawkeyes’ participation in the Orange Bowl).
Don’t think of apps just as devices for delivery of your content. Apps should become a revenue source, too. Just as newspaper and television companies help business customers produce advertisements for their products, a mobile-first organization is going to help business customers develop mobile apps to promote their businesses and sell their products and services. Many of the aspects of the mobile-first approach will require shifting resources from current print, broadcast or Web operations to mobile operations. But development and deployment of commercial applications will produce revenue to support eventual expansion of mobile operations.
Sales & Marketing
Sales staffs need to listen to consumers and businesses and learn how to help businesses serve the mobile audience. In the early stages of a mobile-first organization, sales efforts will be focused heavily on educating and training business customers on mobile opportunities and your organization’s role in connecting businesses in your community with mobile customers.
Mobile commercial content will be convenient and responsive, rather than intrusive. Search advertising provides the answer that the potential customer was seeking. Location-based advertising should not be intrusive or people will devise ways to turn it off. Our community apps and sites need to provide location-based tabs such as “shop nearby,” “dine nearby” or “nearby entertainment.” The user can ignore those tabs if she knows where she wants to go and just wants information on parking, for instance. But a user who clicks on such a tab welcomes our help (and the help of businesses paying us for access to these customers).
We also need to be careful not to use just a single mobile tool, such as a mobile Web site or iPhone application. Some businesses may want to sponsor breaking news alerts, reaching the text-message audience with a link to the company’s Web site or to its enhanced listing in our business directory. Some may want to sponsor a podcast or an e-mail newsletter, reaching people wherever they access e-mail.
Sales staff will need training in how mobile opportunities can work and how to teach a local business to pursue those opportunities. While we need to be willing to invest heavy sales staff time in landing accounts and in training businesses to use their apps, we also need to design self-serve mobile accounts that the business customer can change and update after we get them launched.
We need to develop pricing that helps businesses use our mobile services. We can’t discount services that we know will be valuable.
News companies know how to market newspapers and newscasts. We shouldn’t stop marketing those products and our Web sites, but the mobile-first organization will have a mobile-first marketing department. The community knows about the legacy products and will continue to find them with a reduced marketing effort.
We will need an aggressive (and vastly different) marketing effort to tell the community about all the ways we serve your mobile audience. The effective marketing strategy needs at least a two-pronged approach: sophisticated and witty to alert the savvy mobile customer to our services and simple and educational to teach the new or confused mobile customer how many jobs we can help him with.
Of course, print and TV ads will still be a part of the marketing strategy (Apple’s “there’s an app for that” ads and Verizon’s “there’s a map for that” ads have helped both companies pitch their mobile services effectively).
We need to work aggressively to get our apps onto people’s phones. We need to use iPhone’s App Store. And we also need to connect with local retailers selling phones and other mobile devices, perhaps offering free apps that introduce and promote our apps or offering to load our package of apps on each phone sold (perhaps as part of a deal that includes advertising for the retailer). We can offer classes in the community on how to use our location-based services and our applications.
We might consider cross-promoting: Get a new iPhone with all our mobile apps with a full-year newspaper subscription.
Leadership
If you want to launch a mobile-first SWAT team but not change the whole organization, then the top executive may not need to do much more than provide resources and direction. But if you want to transform a legacy media operation into a mobile-first company, top executives — CEOs, publishers and general managers -– need to lead the way to a mobile-first future. need to lead the way aggressively, firmly and consistently. Our default settings are powerful and the whole company or individual departments will veer back to our print-broadcast-Web roots if the top bosses are not demanding and vigilant.
The bosses need to set the example by using and mastering mobile apps for their personal use and by consuming our products and rival products on their mobile devices (and talking with managers and staff about how they use them and the lessons they learn). The top bosses need to spend time and attention on pursuing mobile opportunities. You can say mobile is important, but if you spend your time on print, broadcast or Web issues and hold feet to the fire in those areas, managers and staff will see. They will know by your actions whether mobile first is a wish to achieve in spare time or a priority for all to embrace.
Unless you’re loaded with cash (and who is these days?), you can’t pursue a mobile-first strategy without risk. Traditional media such as print and broadcast provide the revenue that supports your company. The inclination will be strong to try to pursue a mobile strategy on the side, while you protect those core operations. Top executives need to acknowledge the short-term risk of shifting resources away from those core revenue streams and also to reassure managers, staff and shareholders that the long-term risk of timidly pursuing mobile opportunities is far greater.
The top executives need to coach all managers in pursuit of a mobile-first strategy. This means tolerance of mistakes and risks in pursuit of mobile opportunities but no patience for protection of the old priorities. If the top executives preach mobile-first and practice mobile-whenever, whenever will win.
Training
A mobile-first operation will need different skills and a different outlook from an organization focused on established pursuits such as print, broadcast and web. Through a combination of training and recruiting, we need to move quickly to the right staff for a mobile-first organization.
I have spent enough time in the training business and learned enough new skills and new thinking myself to know that committed staff members can learn the skills and outlook that a mobile-first organization needs. The more we can help staff members transform, the more we will benefit from their other skills and their community knowledge.
But some staff members will be unable or unwilling to make such a transition. And we will need to hire some people for skills so specialized or advanced that we can’t reasonably expect staff members to reach the necessary level fast enough.
What’s Next
As we proceed, we need to remember the “good enough” principle of disruptive innovation that Harvard business professor Clayton Christensen taught in the Newspaper Next project. An innovation doesn’t have to be perfect to launch; in fact the cost of pursuing perfection can doom a project to failure. “Good enough” performance along traditional lines is sufficient for launch, if it is providing a distinct advantage over existing products in some new approach.
The cell phone is a great example. One of the first times I used a cell phone to dictate a news story was in 1995 in Herington, Kan., as authorities were searching the home of Terry Nichols, Timothy McVeigh’s accomplice in the Oklahoma City bombing. The phone was huge. It dropped the signal twice during the call, and I had to call the city desk back. I pretty much had to shout to be heard. And the battery was about to die (as it almost always was, because it didn’t hold its charge very long).
Based on the performance of the phone on my desk in my office, this cell phone was just barely good enough. But the phone wasn’t back in the office on my desk. It allowed me to dictate from the sidewalk across the street from Nichols’ home as I watched the search. I knew reporting would never be the same.
That good-enough start didn’t mean we were settling for mediocre. It meant we were getting started on a new road to excellence I couldn’t even imagine then.
That’s what we need to do now with a mobile-first strategy.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Google's Streetview hits a roadblock in Bengaluru

For the uninitiated, Google (Google Earth) has a feature called the Streetview. The Google Streetview car roams around the streets, clicking pictures as it drives by. These pictures are then stitched together to give you a virtual walkthrough. It's an amazing application, but now seems to be creating a lot of controversy, raising privacy concerns. Citizens are demanding that their street, houses should not be photographed by the car.

Pic source: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9217775/Google_Street_View_blocked_in_Bangalore


The other issue is security. After 26/11 in Mumbai, there is generally a lot of concern over security issues. The Karnataka Government has refused to allow the Google Streetview car to photograph sections of Bengaluru.

This is going to spark off a debate on technology, government, privacy concerns, freedom of speech, etc.

Click here for an article that has appeared on the rediff.com com home page tonight.