There is something to admire in Google’s local stance. While everybody waits with bated breath to see how much Google Glass will change our world, if this article from The Atlantic is right then the company may be looking at a way to provide a vibrant future for local and community newspapers.
It looks like Glass – Google’s much publicised wearable mobile headset – could be coupled to Google Now local news content, via a built-in ‘card’, to provide ‘contextually relevant’ and up to date geographical information, ie the news where you are. Potentially it provides much-needed traffic to local newspapers and websites. That does little to revive flagging newsprint businesses unless they have a strong online presence, but it is the world we are in. Go digital or go bust is fast becoming the strong take-home message for traditional publishing.
Locality and fine-grain detail have been very much the driving force behind Google products. Look at Maps or Street View, Places or Local. And while it is essential to retain a sense of scepticism for what Google and other Silicon Valley companies do in public ownership – witness the ‘copyright grab’ lined up by the UK government (scandalous) in this FAQ from The Register – the flip side of the coin could be better, speedier access to local stories. Checks and balances in this process are not clear and neither is the government’s relationship with big-tech companies.
Local storytelling is also at the heart of an app called 7 Scenes. Users can take the app and create a virtual tour of their city, local natural beauty spots, even museums and art galleries. It is targetted primarily at tourism businesses and educators but a free version is downloadable from iTunes and Google Play. Build in pictures, video and text and link it to social media to construct a picture of where you live and things to do. There is a strong game element built in too, so you can create a kind of geocaching experience – rewards given for going to certain locations – based on how you develop your 7 Scenes experience. Subscriptions are on the pricey side for the epic version of the app.
There is only one problem with having multiple gadgets containing your pictures, videos and notes – syncing it all so you have access whichever one you pick up. Now a US company has launched a kickstarter project to develop a local storage device that will let you sync all of your files across the desktop, handset and tablet. Called Lima, CGC has hit its $1 million target to develop the drive in a range of snazzy colours. Its unique selling point? No more cloud storage so snoopers at the NSA and Prism don’t get access to your private info. The on-board operating system is Linux and the drive complies with formats including NTFS, HFS+ and FAT32.