Road Signs: Mobile, Media, Mistakes

Google CEO Eric Schmidt may have sounded self-serving in his prediction that it will be “mobile first” as quoted in last month’s Autowriters.Com Newsletter. However, when Morgan Stanley managing director and “Queen of the Net”, Mary Meeker says so in her latest very detailed: “State of The Internet” report, it is hard to ignore. As quoted by Mathew Ingram at GigaOM, Meeker predicts “within five years more users will connect with the Internet over mobile devices than through desktop PCs.” She, of course, relates this to prospects for communications hardware companies and the commercial search and social potentials for the web.

Driving this trend in the U.S. (and no doubt Japan and elsewhere) and of particular important to providers of content for the web are media users between the ages of 8 to 18. A study of kids’ use of media (referred to us by reader Doug Stokes) shows their average time spent in reading a newspaper has dropped in five years from 6 minutes to 3 minutes per day! During the same time span, the study sponsored by The Kaiser Family Foundation found that mobile devices are expanding the number of hours youths can consume media, even while on the go. As it prepares to enter and influence the world’s use of media, this age group has increased its daily media use by one hour and seventeen minutes to 7:28 hours per day. By multitasking they boost that daily average to 10:45 hours– seven days a week.

In the process, Mike Doherty notes in Media Post, the new generation of web users “process data five times faster than most of us and use a language of abbreviations, fragments and images to click on rather than text. And, they are always on.” In The Danger of Always Being On, New York Times Public Editor, Clark Hoyt, cites the risks of “a print culture built on careful reporting, layers of editing and time for reflection as it moves onto platforms where speed is everything and attitude sometimes trumps values like accuracy and restraint.”  Ironically, on the same page as Hoyt’s piece, columnist Frank Rich decries the near universal acceptance of the “mistakes were made mantra” in lieu of assigning or accepting responsibility. When we accept errors without consequences in national affairs how accountable can writers be for spelling, grammar and often, facts, when trying to stay up to speed in feeding and using the Internet? Like a driver entering a crowded, really crowded freeway, where observing the speed limits may get him rear ended.