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Opening Arguments

The mobile revolution


Call it a mobile majority. At the start of 2015, 39 of the top 50 digital news websites have more traffic to their sites and associated applications coming from mobile devices than from desktop computers, according to Pew Research Center’s analysis of comScore data.

At the same time, though, desktop visitors to these sites tend to spend more time per visit than do mobile visitors. For half of these top 50 news sites – which include legacy print, cable, network, international and public broadcasting outlets as well as digital-only entities – visitors from desktops stay longer than those coming through mobile. The reverse is true for only 10 of the sites, while for 15 sites the time spent is roughly equal.

So the trend continues of ever-shorter bursts of information consumed in ever-shorter bursts of time.  We'll have a society (or have a society) in which people know a little tiny bit about a whole lot of things and not a lot about anything. Not sure  what those figures really mean, since the story doesn't say whether tablets count as mobile devices or laptops are counted in with the desktops. Still a significant trend, though.

Then there is this:

In tandem with the growth of mobile has been the further rise of the social Web, where the flow of information embodies a whole new dynamic. Some of our 2014 research revealed that nearly half of Web-using adults report getting news about politics and government in the past week on Facebook, a platform where influence is driven to a strong degree by friends and algorithms.

No more gatekeepers, in other words. Nobody setting the agenda. No agreement on what the national dialogue should be about. It's always been a given that a constitutional republic like ours can only work (or at least works best) with an informed citizenry. Since what it means to be "informed" is in flux, I'd say the future of the republic is, too.

Posted in: Web/Tech