Keys-by-TEARN mobile platform
Diary of a passionate, tech Dad
from TEARN i.e. teach to learn

Showing posts with label research. Show all posts
Showing posts with label research. Show all posts

Mar 31, 2011

Making Hyperlocal Apps Interesting for Users

One of the major challenges of digital media has been the development of a business model for hyper-local distribution. Here is a review of the state of the art.

Legacy Media

Newspapers or magazines buy a mailing lists that blankets a small town or region. This is expensive. Content is even more expensive. If readers throw the paper directly into the waste can, it is also wasteful for both advertisers and publishers.

Digital giants like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL, and Facebook have tried to saturate the coverage of a local zone. Yelp, Groupon, Twitter, and others don't have the scalable models for success. Even with their massive global reach, no media has been successful with replicating the distribution reach of a purchased list.

However, users do opt into digital. Thus there is less waste.

Tourism and Hyperlocal

Regional media serve two purposes: tourism and hyperlocal.

Since the former exports content to a global community, the digital asset can be far more successful than any printed products - as evidenced by our large community of 1,500,000+ downloads.

In servicing the imported information needs of a local community, digital has not been able to build the concentrated community that a local business wants as its primary buyers. Note that local businesses do represent 80% of the advertising buyers.

The content-development, technical, strategy scaling, distribution, local training, marketing mindshare, business momentum, and other issues present formidable hurdles for success. Is that why even the largest of web properties have failed?

Keys Moving Toward Hyperlocal

Smartmobile is fast becoming more pervasive than mail boxes. In some areas, this statement is already true. Our success is first-hand testimonial to this tsunami.

As one of our many research projects, we're extending our SoMoLo strategy toward local. Keys makes local apps interesting for mobile users. Local partners will co-promote Cotswold in the UK and Santa Barbara in California.

We believe this is a medium term project where first-movers will be rewarded. Slow adopters, like legacy media and web consultants, carry too much luggage to succeed with this fast moving train.

Join us to overcome these challenges.

Feb 23, 2011

Op-ed: Evergreen Publishing

Has coffee-table apps become a unique form of evergreen publishing?

TEARN media has been experimenting with various themes for mobile publishing. This post explores our automated features that results in evergreen magazines and books.

Coffee-table Apps Revisited

Legacy book and magazine publishers typically identify a subject; collect data, photos, and illustrations; and write about that subject. Most of that content is now available online.

Search bots at Google, Bing, and Yahoo scour the web for any new content. The best content is presented via search results - and used by the Keys platform.

The Keys Mobile Platform organizes the best of search results into subjects that we call apps; and extends with learning activities to aid memorization.
  • Slide shows and video galleries link to the best content on the web.
  • Spin, match, and guess provide games for memorization exercises.
  • The innovative pictionary with search bots game was the original seed behind our platform.
Evergreen Publishing

Our staff identifies subjects that are potentially interesting to mobile users worldwide. We select a thematic approach to present each subject as a Keys app. It's our unique form of story telling. The result has been a large collection of apps covering a wide range of subjects.

Each app is evergreen.
  • If we select subjects carefully, the app can be timeless and always relevant. This includes historic sports lists, scientific glossaries, and virtual tours by subject.
  • Using search bots, the content self updates - reflecting the best of the web and auto-adjusting the app to changes due to society's evolutionary habits or scientific advancements. Minor editorial adjustments per year should keep these apps focused on the central themes of the selected subject.
  • Our approach is objective - not reflecting political, personal, or editorial bias. Each app is simply the result from the best of the web.
  • We have pushed the state of the web with apps where little information is currently available - and where we forecast growth in content from the global community. This includes apps for regional areas of countries like India or China. As these local communities become more active on the web, our apps focused on those regions will improve automatically.
  • More recently, we've experimented with predictive magazines. With subjects like the emerging war among tablet manufacturers, our app is able to automatically track the hundreds of announcements for new products that is expected to occur in 2011. We did the same for hybrid cars.
  • Mobile technology will improve with faster devices, networks, and servers. This improves the user experience for mobile users.
Evergreen publishing also implies the battle for a greener enviroment. That's a good social goal.

Will these Keys apps self improve with age? Only time will tell the results.

PS: Total downloads now exceed 1,350,000. Thank you.

May 21, 2010

Patterns for Learning

Too many complex words, phrases, and terms slow the learning process - many with subtle differences in meaning among terms - like meosis versus mitosis. Yet, the richness of any communication medium enables innovation, entertainment, and more learning.

How do we overcome this conundrum to accelerate learning?

The Recursion Problem

Complex terms overwhelm descriptions of most advanced subjects. New terms describe more new terms - resulting in a massive recursion problem.

Recursion has three types:
  • Language use: complexity due to language conventions like singular and plural forms (eg pili versus pilus;) noun versus adjective (chordate versus chordatian;) and informal versus the formal class (chordate versus Chordata.)
  • Descriptive recursion: when a word is defined using new terms - each with distractive link that brings more new terms.
  • System recursion: complex systems have parts where each part is another challenging term. As one delves deeper from organisms, to organs, to tissues, to cells, to chromosomes, to DNA, to genes, to molecules, and finally to atoms - the terms can be overwhelming even though the concepts can be easily understood.
From my personal experience, whether learning to read 8,000 Chinese characters; mastering the thousands of cross-platform terms and packages used to describe the iPhone, Android, webos, and IE9 mobile coding; dealing with legal terms; or conquering the 4,000-term biology project - the recursion problem has slowed learning even though the fundamental lessons are relatively simple.

Systematic Patterns for Learning

The Keys platform is evolving toward a pattern for categorizing thousands of complex terms. Here is the basic dictionary:
  • Learning starts with observing objects, patterns, and systems. Kids start with images of objects and associate with words - both written and spoken. What we read is often descriptions of objects, patterns, and systems.
  • Patterns can be informal descriptions like two objects look similar or formal classes with an ordering and agreed-to method like the taxonomy structure for organisms. Overcoming superficial patterns to learn subtle differences leads to the type of learning that results in future jobs.
  • Systems describe parts, materials, functions, and processes. An object can have one or more subsystems; and also be parts of larger systems. The main systems inside humans include circulatory, digestive, excretory, immune, muscular, and sensory; but humanoids are also parts of societies, communities, and ecosystems.
Recognizing and creating patterns, diving into systems and learning how they work, and understanding the role of objects in larger systems - isn't that the fundamentals of learning? and innovation?

Here are a few more of the emerging details on how we categorize terms:
  • Parts describe components of a system like bones, muscles, and connective tissues. Materials categorize disposable parts like enzymes and hormones.
  • Function describes the general use of an object. Process describes the steps that a system of parts use to coordinate the function. Methods describe human-developed steps for analysis.
Sample Application of Patterns

The comparative reproduction chapter of the Bio AP collection shows an example of this Keys-pattern at work.
  • The overall process unites an egg and sperm.
  • Oogenesis and spermatogenesis describes systems for producing these key parts. These lessons include the parts, materials, and processes where the end result is a gamete.
  • Fertilization, gastrulation, organogenesis, and morphogenesis follow the formation of a zygote. Each is a system with parts, materials, and process.
  • The chapter further compares the process for bacteria, protists, invertebrates, amniotes, and mammals.
One picture provides the overall pattern that helps to categorize the richness of the reproductive subject matter -covering the tough terms and concepts for accelerated comprehension of a dozen chapters in college-level textbook.

Using Keys for Learning

Our goal is to improve comprehension of textbooks and lectures by first introducing the terms used. Here are the steps:
  • Examine the overview of a chapter and learn the fundamentals of the top view.
  • Do this before reading textbooks - i.e. know the basic terms prior to reading.
  • Practice with each chapter after reading the textbook - to cement memorization of the key terms.
  • It's not necessary to memorize every term.
  • It is important to learn many terms, and see the context of words within a subject matter.
  • Use the games to associate terms with images; and self-entertain as a small motivator to spend time learning.
  • Practice prior to tests like the SAT.
Remember that even when working, search is just one step away. Understanding that leads to comprehension of the search or wiki results is our goal.

When you read web content and recognize right from wrong information among the billions of pages - that's Nirvana!

Discovering Patterns

As with all emerging systematics, differences in opinion and discovered facts cloud any new method. Our goal is to shape buckets of complex terms by placing them into a context that is easier to remember.

Work with us to improve the learning process.
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