What we read this week (15 June 2018)

Welcome to Things we read this week, a weekly post featuring articles from around the internet recommended by BMJ’s Digital Group members. We’re catching up after holidays and conferences this week.

Disruptive Publishing

Frank Norman highlights some of the changes in science publishing aimed the biomedical  researcher community. Paul Bradshaw has a great summary of the #GENSummit 2018 and how AI is impacting publishing and journalism.

Product Development

DJ Brinkerhoff writes about changes to the design of The Atlantic article pages claiming a 15% improvement in engaged time, and a statistically significant reduction in bounce rate.

Email newsletters are in vogue at the moment more about how The New York Times is using short-run newsletters

“We really want to make sure we become a habit for readers,” said Elisabeth Goodridge, the Times’ editorial director of email and messaging. She wouldn’t break out figures for short-run newsletters specifically, but the Times has said newsletter subscribers are twice as likely as regular Times readers to become subscribers. In the case of the pop-up newsletters, the Times actively markets other newsletters to their subscribers…. “It’s all about building the brand,” Goodridge said. “But we’ve noticed open rates and KPIs are extra powerful, so it’s also about building up the relationship. People like signing up for them because it’s a short-term commitment, and it’s something they’re passionate about right now.”

Will SMS technology also see a resurgence? The Skimm are launching a 1:1, human response Q&A texting service  to help its paid app subscribers contextualize the news of the day in their own lives.

Before we get too carried away developing new products Angus Hervey argues that as we make the move from digital to cognitive, the tech industry should be thinking a lot harder about putting safety first.

Social Networks

We thoroughly enjoyed Nudgestock 2018, here’s Nicholas Christakis’s fascinating talk about the impact social networks have on our behaviours, beliefs and health.

“If you take the same carbon atoms and connect them one way you get graphite, which is soft and dark. Or you take the carbon atoms and connect them a different way you get diamond, which is hard and clear. These properties of softness, hardness and clearness are not properties of the carbon atoms. They’re properties of the collection of carbon atoms. And which properties you get depends on how you connect the carbon atoms to each other. […] It’s the same with human social groups. You can take a group of people and connect them one way and they are very kind to each other, they start to smoke, or they quit smoking, or they spread fake news. You take the same people and connect them a different way and they have none of those properties.”

More nuggets of knowledge from Nudgestock (behavioural science festival) here.

Internet trends

How could we not link to Mary Meeker’s monster slide deck of internet trends? The number of people we can reach through the internet is staggering:

  • Roughly 50% of the world, about 3.6 billion people, now have some access to the internet.
  • There are three messaging apps—WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat—that each have more than 1 billion monthly active users.

However, it was the Pew Research Center survey on  teens’ social media use that really caught our attention:

  • 95% of teens now report they have a smartphone or access to one.
  • 45% of teens now say they are online on a near-constant basis.
  • Roughly half (51%) of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 say they use Facebook, notably lower than the shares who use YouTube, Instagram or Snapchat.

YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat are the most popular online platforms among teens

Visit Pubtechgator to find more publishing technology news stories.

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