There’s a lot of tech and a lot of knowledge behind the newish online tools. The challenge is to figure out which tools to use when. And where. And how.

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Almost makes me long for my flip phone and dial up modem. Almost. I’m not a complete Luddite, I use Facebook heavily and live Tweet sports and TV shows. My kids communicate with good ‘ol Mom exclusively via text.

But I’m not strong in other tools so I’ve decided to experiment with mobile, strengthen my use of Instagram (“insta” in the vernacular) and get smarter about social bookmarking to see if it will streamline my news consumption.

Let’s tackle mobile first because I wanted the most current data about the number of people using mobile. Basically, it’s billions-with-a-B! Writing in HuffPo, Vivek Wadhwa (2015) says:

The mighty smartphone is already in the hands of some 2 billion people — about half of the world’s adult population. Every human being will soon own one or more of these powerful computers as costs keep dropping and capabilities increase.

In a beautiful burst of synergy I’m hoping to create a web page about the beleaguered DC mass transit system known as Metro. So I wanted to know more about mobile usage as it applies to mass transit. Good guess on my part as the smart folks at the Pew Research center (2015) say that mobile devices are used heavily in that regard.

Click here to read all of the data (Anderson, M. & Smith, A. APRIL 14, 2015) but you’ll want to pay particular attention to this:

41% of smartphone owners from the Northeast (home to several of the most traveled transit systems in the country) use their phone at least occasionally to look up public transit information, a substantially higher share than in other regions of the country. This activity is also more popular among smartphone owners who live in an urban area than among those who live in the suburbs or a rural area.

This told me a coupla things:

  1. I should use my mobile device for research today because well, when in Rome…
  2. I need to remember how to do a screen shot, damn.

Okay, mission accomplished, check this out. On the left you see my mobile device just chock full of apps, mail, music, web browser etc. and evidence that I’m back in the screen shot business. On the right you see one of the 4 examples I found on Insta of a vocal, engaged group of Metro riders.

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So we know that there are plenty of people using mobile devices AND that in this part of the country nearly half of all smart phone users get info about mass transit by using their phone.

What about this whole Instagram thing? It’s young. (Blake, A. 2015)  And I’m not. Could explain my personal disconnect.

And Instagram use also skews very young, with 53 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds on it. That’s up from 37 percent just a year prior, and no other group uses it even half as much.

And although it’s young, it is hot hot hot. (Bearne, S. 2015)

Forget Twitter and Facebook, for many startups Instagram is the social media tool of choice – and it’s easy to see why. The app has built up such a strong following it’s now more popular than Twitter, with monthly users topping 300 million.

It’s about damn time that I get the whole Insta thing. So I turned back to my iPhone to use Instagram for the 411 about DC’s mass transit. Boom!

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Using Instagram isn’t terribly complicated – and given the youth of the users offer an additional and heavily visual way to reach younger readers. In combo with Facebook, and Twitter, Instagram gives content producers easier ways to reach and engage the appropriate communities of audience.

The final frontier for today is social bookmarking. Honestly I must be too discriminating because I do my own bookmarking. Yeah, too discriminating. That’s my story. Luddite much? I did spend some time with Reddit after reading this:

Think of social bookmark sites as self-storage locations for things you want to find later, or wish to share with friends.

There are more than a dozen well-used social bookmarking sites. Among them are Slashdot, Digg, Newsvine, Reddit, Del.icio.us, Furl.net and others.

(Bookmarking made fun, easy. 2007) Reddit has been around for 10 years. It is more than social bookmarking, although it falls in that category. It’s also a popularity contest.

Reddit users submit pictures, comments or news stories which are then voted up or down by other users. You can ask questions and start discussions too. The more ‘up’ votes your post gets from other users, the more points you get and the more your post gets seen. If your post is really popular, you might make it to the Reddit homepage, which calls itself “the front page of the internet”.

(Morse, F. 2015)

But because I’m determined to use these tools on mobile the first thing I noticed is how clunky the regular website looks on mobile. Given the call-to-action at the top of the screen it was clear that Reddit wanted me to use the mobile version.

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Differences? Well, because a mobile website is designed for mobile, it’s smaller, touch-friendly and easier to read. “It can be accessed using any mobile device’s Web browser, like Safari on iOS and Chrome on Android. Users simply type in the URL or click on a link to your website, and the website automatically detects the mobile device and redirects the viewer to the mobile version of your website.” (Angeles, S. July 15, 2014)

Allrighty then, Reddit knows which device I’m using. Hate it when my phone is smarter than I am. Who uses Reddit? Shockingly, the users don’t look much like moi, check it out:

The figures are in. Six percent of adult internet users in the US have checked out Reddit – the internet’s top repository for memes, quirky old news stories and user-generated interviews with famous people.

Reddit users are primarily young, male and from suburban and urban areas, according to a study conducted by Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project on Wednesday.

Pew found that “young males are especially likely to use Reddit”, with more men in each age category identifying as Reddit users than women. The disparity was greatest in the 18-29 demographic, which has 15% male users and 5% female users.

(Holpuch, A. July 2013) Reddit was interesting to check out, but I don’t see it being a big part of my life going forward. One interesting aside though which made learning about Reddit especially timely. I also discovered that the site had actually made news this week. Remember the missing teen discovered 13 years after his abduction? Turns out that Reddit may have played a role in the story. (Yawn, A. J. 2015)

The big takeaway for me today is understanding how content producers have to be more mobile centric. Fish where the fish are, and all that!

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Sources:

Anderson, M. & Smith, A. (APRIL 14, 2015) The smartphone: An essential travel guide Pew Research Center. Retrieved from: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/04/14/smartphone-essential-travel-guide/

Angeles, S. (July 15, 2014) Mobile website vs. mobile app. BusinessNewsDaily. Retrieved from: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6783-mobile-website-vs-mobile-app.html#sthash.JjbF2qRR.dpuf

Blake, A. (2015). The political potential of instagram. Washington: WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.snhu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1651706587?accountid=3783

Bookmarking made fun, easy. (2007, Oct 22). Spokesman Review Retrieved from http://ezproxy.snhu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/395060042?accountid=3783

Holpuch, A. (July 2013) We are the 6%: Reddit use increasing in America, according to Pew study. The Guardian. Retrieved from: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/jul/03/reddit-internet-use-pew-study

Morse, F. (June 2015)  Who uses Reddit in the UK? Newsbeat
Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/33254299/who-uses-reddit-in-the-uk

Wadwha, Vivek, (June 2015) Mobile Is Eating the Business World, but Where Are All the Great Business Apps? The Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vivek-wadhwa/mobile-is-eating-the-busi_b_7487178.html

Yawn, A. J. (2015) Missing Teen May have turned to Reddit for help. The Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser. Retrieved from:http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/11/05/reddit-poster-missing-teen/75234224/

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