Good News in Digital Age

Putting the new wine into new wineskins: facts and trends in hi-tech & communications, publishing & mass media which help to fulfill the Great Commission

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Yesterday's papers: The Economist about the future of journalism

Recently The Economist posted the online version of it's printed article with this title. Triggered by the Rupert Murduch's speech, it discusses the future of the media industry.

Here are some excerpts:

In 1995-2003, says the World Association of Newspapers, circulation fell by 5% in America, 3% in Europe and 2% in Japan. In the 1960s, four out of five Americans read a paper every day; today only half do so. Philip Meyer, author of “The Vanishing Newspaper: Saving Journalism in the Information Age” (University of Missouri Press), says that if the trend continues, the last newspaper reader will recycle his final paper copy in April 2040.

Whereas 56% of Americans haven't heard of blogs, and only 3% read them daily, among the young they are standard fare, with 44% of online Americans aged 18-29 reading them often, according to a poll by CNN/USA Today/Gallup.

Blogs, moreover, are but one item on a growing list of new media tools that the internet makes available. Wikis are collaborative web pages that allow readers to edit and contribute. This, to digital immigrants, may sound like a recipe for anarchic chaos, until they visit, for instance,, an online encyclopaedia that is growing dramatically richer by the day through exactly this spontaneous (and surprisingly orderly) collaboration among strangers. Photoblogs are becoming common; videoblogs are just starting. Podcasting (a conjunction of iPod, Apple's iconic audio player, and broadcasting) lets both professionals and amateurs produce audio files that people can download and listen to.

It is tempting, but wrong, for the traditional mainstream media (which includes The Economist) to belittle this sort of thing. It is true, for instance, that the vast majority of blogs are not worth reading and, in fact, are not read (although the same is true of much in traditional newspapers). On the other hand, bloggers play an increasingly prominent part in the wider media drama—witness their role in America's presidential election last year. The most popular bloggers now get as much traffic individually as the opinion pages of most newspapers. Many bloggers are windbags, but some are world experts in their field. Matthew Hindman, a political scientist at Arizona State University, found that the top bloggers are more likely than top newspaper columnists to have gone to a top university, and far more likely to have an advanced degree, such as a doctorate.

OhmyNews in South Korea. Its “main concept is that every citizen can be a reporter,” says Oh Yeon Ho, the boss and founder. Five years old, OhmyNews already has 2m readers and over 33,000 “citizen reporters”, all of them volunteers who contribute stories that are edited and fact-checked by some 50 permanent staff.

With so many new kinds of journalists joining the old kinds, it is also likely that new business models will arise to challenge existing ones. Some bloggers are allowing Google to place advertising links next to their postings, and thus get paid every time a reader of their blog clicks on them. Other bloggers, just like existing providers of specialist content, may ask for subscriptions to all, or part, of their content. Tip-jar systems, where readers click to make small payments to their favourite writers, are catching on. In one case last year, an OhmyNews article attacking an unpopular court verdict reaped $30,000 in tips from readers, though most of the site's revenues come from advertising.

The tone in these new media is radically different. For today's digital natives, says Mr Gillmor, it is anathema to be lectured at. Instead, they expect to be informed as part of an online dialogue. They are at once less likely to write a traditional letter to the editor, and more likely to post a response on the web—and then to carry on the discussion. A letters page pre-selected by an editor makes no sense to them; spotting the best responses using the spontaneous voting systems of the internet does.

It remains uncertain what mix of advertising revenue, tips and subscriptions will fund the news providers of the future, and how large a role today's providers will have. What is clear is that the control of news—what constitutes it, how to prioritise it and what is fact—is shifting subtly from being the sole purview of the news provider to the audience itself.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Internet usage in Ukraine - fresh stats available

Few days ago the results of the latest survey of internet usage in Ukraine were released. It indicated, among the other interesting trends, a very high rate of growing number of internet users - 13.5% per month! Within less than half a year the unique internet audience has grown by 60% and today it is close to 6.5 million people - every 7th person in the country or 16% of people 14+ years old!

It is really interesting to see how the internet usage dynamics developed in Ukraine within last half a year. A fairly slow growth of the online community of UAnet we saw before Nov’04 transformed within just few weeks into explosion-like process. By less than 30 days the unique internet audience in Ukraine had grown by 40%!

The reason was Orange Revolution. Just like the US Presidential elections gave the tremendous boost to blogging, the Orange Revolution has changed the nation’s attitude towards the Web. In those times millions of people all of a sudden realized that the classic media they got used to - newspapers, magazines, TV and radio channels - are either not trustworthy (because almost 100% were controlled by the regime) or very slow in reacting on the situation changes (which did change dramatically literally every minute). To them knowing the real situation was not just a matter of curiosity but sometimes a one of personal safety for themselves and the loved ones. In those dramatic days many realized what the internet could really give them... The charts below could tell more.

I thought that some details about current situation regarding internet usage in Ukraine (as well as some other countries of former USSR) might be of certain interest to those of you who are involved in various web evangelism programs focused on this part of the world. So I tried to summarize and give them in a brief form below.

At the end of March 2005 the unique monthly audience of UAnet (i.e. the number of different people from UA domain going online at least once during the month) was 6 414 405 people. In comparison with Feb 2005 figures the number of unique internet users grew by 761 012 people or by 13.46%.

[If we will apply a 2% rule (which says that at any one moment in time, generally two-percent of any audience is at the point of conversion and ready to receive Jesus) to this audience, we’ll end up with a huge number of 128 thousand people just in Ukraine. Guess, how many are there web-evangelism resources in Russian (not to mention Ukrainian) which target those people? - Almost a pure zero... "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Matt 9:37).]

The general dynamics of internet audience in Ukraine since Oct’04 (the time just before the Orange Revolution) looks like this. Given in flat numbers of people. The growth by 39% in Nov’04 and even by more 6% in Dec’04 is the result of Orange Revolution when most of the TV channels controlled by the regime did not give true information about dramatically changing situation in the country, so people rushed to the Web. Interesting though that in 2005 the audience did not drop back to the Oct 2004 numbers. It remained on the same level and even showed additional 13.5% growth last month.

Ukrainians spent in March online overall time 13.3 million hours. Here is the dynamics since Oct’04. Tremendous leap in December is purely the result of Orange Revolution when people were sitting online days and night to follow the coup dynamics. Again, in 2005 the numbers remained on the Nov’04 level.

Ukrainians generated during March 301.4 mio hits. See the chart. The figures are given in flat numbers of generated hits. The growth in Nov-Dec’04 is again the result of Orange Revolution. Notice another 12% growth in Mar 2005 which even gets the number close to Nov-Dec’04 results.

It is interesting to see how the core of the UAnet is developing. This is a number of people who go online regularly (at least once a week). In March the core of UAnet was 366.3 thousand people (0.7% of population) and grew from Feb’04 by 3.7%. A big drop in Jan’05 is explained by the holidays time. The impressive steady growth is a clear evidence of actively forming the Web community in Ukraine.

Also: Average UAnet user works online about 40min per day, spends in average about 3 minutes on each site with the view depth about 2.5 pages.

The geography of UAnet audience is given here. Geographically, 54% of UAnet users live in Kiev (capital city). Their monthly growth is currently 15%. The 32% share belongs to the big cities of Ukraine (Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Kharkov, L’vov, Zaporozhie, Donetsk). The rest of regions have about 14% share.

All figures and charts mentioned above can be downloaded as a PowerPoint or Ms Excel files.

So, here is how it looks like in Ukraine. The data about Internet usage in Russia and other CIS countries are fairly scarce and much less regular, so it is rather difficult to follow the dynamics. Nevertheless, in the next few days I will try to post what I have found so far.
Unique audience of UAnet
The core audience dynamics
How many hits they generated per month
How long people stay online
Internet Audience of Ukraine -- fresh statistics

Friday, April 22, 2005

Speech by Rupert Murdoch to the American Society of Newspaper Editors

Old-media tycoon warns editors to think young & digital -- this is how Bob Stepno's Other Journalism Weblog tells about this event

Rupert Murdoch, head of the international media empire called News Corp., has his eye on young people and their new habits with online media:

"What is happening is, in short, a revolution in the way young people are accessing news. They don't want to rely on the morning paper for their up-to-date information. They don't want to rely on a God-like figure from above to tell them what's important. And to carry the religion analogy a bit further, they certainly don't want news presented as gospel.
"Instead, they want their news on demand, when it works for them. They want control over their media, instead of being controlled by it. They want to question, to probe, to offer a different angle."

In a speech on Apr 13 to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Murdoch shared a view of a media future informed by bloggers, podcasters and Google -- citing, among other things, Phil Meyer's book The Vanishing Newspaper and the recent Carnegie Corporation report on young people's news habits, both of which I've mentioned here in the past month. The full text of his speech is online.

In Dan Gillmor's blog, Gillmor praised Murdoch's openness to new ideas about the digital future -- even if they don't change his opinion of Murdoch as "a press (robber) baron whose greed and overtly one-sided journalism have been a malevolent force in the media sphere."

In case you don't follow such things, Murdoch's News Corp. empire includes not only Fox News, but publications, broadcast and satellite news operations from his native Australia to The Times of London, the New York Post, and Fox-everything.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

BusinessWeek: Blogs Will Change Your Business!

The cover story of the recent issue of BusinessWeek is fully devoted to blogs issue... No comment!

Here are some nice excerpts from it.

See the full version The BusinessWeek Cover story

Monday, April 18, 2005

Territory, Number and Density of Population of the CIS Countries

This is an official press-release of Interstate Statistical Committee of the CIS. Excellent source of any info for your intenet usage data in the countries of former USSR. According to it, the number of population of the Commonwealth countries by provisional estimates as of the beginning of 2005 amounted to 279 million people. Can be found in English here

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Evangelistic Internet Cafes

A bunch of documents on how to start and run an Evangelistic Internet Cafe including operation stats, comprehensive PowerPoint presentation etc. could be found here

An Online Survival Guide For Christians Who Use The Internet

Computers and the Internet have become an everyday part of professional life but a challenge to the Christian life. Unwanted email, pornography, cult websites, commercial scams and malicious viruses are just some of the challenges to surviving the drive online. This brief guide will give you a quick guided tour and the web addresses in it will point you to where you can find more information.

Population/Evangelization Ticker

Take a real-time look at world population/evangelization

Really neat thing which helps a lot to visualize and better imagine today's situation in a world.

2% Rule

Years ago I heard a statistic that, at any one moment in time, generally two-percent of any audience is at the point of conversion and ready to receive Jesus. I have found this true in my own evangelistic preaching and recently found that same two percent holds for Billy Graham crusades as well. Now two-percent of the Internet is a LOT of people. That means that on any given day ten million people online are at the point of conversion.

Principles of WWW

Firstly - the WWW is not a broadcast medium. When content is placed on the WWW it is not “sent out”. The content stays where it is, on the computer it was put on and visitors arrive at that content via a vast web of interconnections. In fact the WWW can be private, semi-public or public. It is not like a radio station, that anyone can listen in on. Content can be restricted to people with passwords or put on obscure and unlisted pages that ‘robots’ and search engines are prevented from finding and web pages can even be encrypted. Thus the WWW is not designed to send out general information to a random audience, but to draw selected people to specific information. The difference is critical. There is no automatic audience. Unless you understand how to draw people through the network of links to your website you can end up with zero visitors.

Secondly, in drawing people to the gospel on the Internet it is essential to understand how people navigate their way to a web site. The WWW is actually most like a vast library and generally surfers do not visit web pages by accident any more than they take out a library book by accident. They mainly arrive at a web page on the basis of a relevant, particular and specific interest, via a search engine or a link from a related web page or an email. The Internet is not passive like listening to radio, rather the surfer is always active, clicking, searching, reading, browsing and intentionally navigating through cyber-space. Thus the web surfer is a self-directed seeker driven by curiosity traveling through a community of hyper-links. So you have somehow to be connected to where that person is now if they are ever to reach you. The idea is to position your website within one or two clicks of millions of people. You need to be part of the network, woven into cyberspace so people “bump into” links to your site in all sorts of places. You also must be able to offer them a reason to go to your page. Surfers are mainly in search of two things: human contact and relevant information. Curiosity and community are the driving forces of the WWW and cyber-ministries need to harness the power of these forces if they are to succeed.

Thirdly, the WWW was designed for scientists and military personnel to share data and is designed to share highly specific information with a widely dispersed audience. Thus, in a counter-intuitive way, the more specific your information, the more visitors your mission website will get! If your site is on a broad topic like “Christianity’ or “the gospel” you will find that it is one among millions – and yours is number 34,218 in the search engine. So your site will get very few visitors. My most specific and unusual articles, such as articles on human cloning, Theophostic counselling, or blessings and curses attract more visitors than articles on general discipleship topics. You can also see this principle operating in the commercial websites. General shopping sites on the Internet have failed by the thousands - while rare booksellers; antique shops, vintage wine and art sales have flourished. The trick is to have up-to-date topics that are highly specific. So when Dolly the sheep was cloned – I immediately wrote a Christian view of human cloning. It was about the only Christian article on the topic (in cyberspace) that week and was a huge success. Thus, to draw people to a cyber-ministry it is important to build on your special knowledge and specific strengths. Forget about appealing to all, instead be relevant, be unique and be specific.

Fourthly, the WWW is more about relevance to needs than it is about image. Content is King. So have good content that meets real needs. People will come even to a really ugly website if it offers free software that they want. The key “click factor” that causes people to decide to follow a link is the visitor’s perception of the site’s relevance to their immediate needs. Mainly these are relational and informational needs. Clicks are made “site unseen”. Visitors have not seen your site when they click on a link to it. So your graphics don’t matter a hoot. The decision (to click) is made, and can only be made, on the basis of information about the site’s content – not its appearance. Thus “cool” is not as important as connection, content, and clarity. Yahoo is one of the largest Internet portals yet it is quite ordinary in its layout. Some of the most visited sites on the web are just plain text. However all successful web sites have great content, are fast, useful, clear and easy to use and navigate. Great websites “connect” with and meet the needs of their target audience. So an effective ministry web page is relevant, unique, clear, fast loading, useful, easily searched, interactive and full of highly specific information and resources that draw people in to use, re-use and explore the website.

By John Edmiston

Missions In Cyberspace: The Strategic Front-Line Use Of The Internet In Missions

I found a great article about internet missions, why we should be there and how IT geeks could be involved.

By John Edmiston

Frontier mission is always an adventure and a calling, in the words of William Carey, to “use means” for the completion of the Great Commission. One of these means is the use of the Internet. And one of the most exhilarating frontiers of mission today is cyber-missions; the frontline use of IT to evangelize and disciple the nations. In this article we will keep the focus on cross-cultural mission web sites and strategic approaches to ministry online such as web-evangelism, email discipleship, web-based TEE and icafes as a church-planting strategy. This paper will review the potential, the actual uses and the successful implementation of Internet-based missionary outreach and put the case for missionary societies to have an Internet evangelism department headed by a Field Director – Cyberspace.

Some Statistics
Worldwide Internet Population:
445.9 million (eMarketer)
533 million (Computer Industry Almanac)
Projection for 2004:
709.1 million (eMarketer)
945 million (Computer Industry Almanac)

Online Language Populations (September 2002)
English 36.5%; Chinese 10.9%, Japanese 9.7%, Spanish 7.2%, German 6.7%, Korean 4.5%, Italian 3.8%, French 3.5%, Portuguese 3.0%, Russian 2.9%, Dutch 2.0% (Source: Global Reach)
From the above statistics it is clear that the Internet is no longer predominantly an English speaking medium and that Asian languages such as Chinese, Japanese and Korean now occupy a significant portion of cyber-space along with major European languages such as Spanish., Portuguese and French.

There are over 275 million Internet searches each day and 80% of all Internet sessions begin at a search engine ( Religion is one of the main topics people search for. Pew Internet surveys found that 28 million Americans get religion information online, that three million do so daily, and that 25 % of net users search for religion-related topics. Barna Research estimates that up to 50 million Americans may worship solely over the Internet by 2010. There is every indication that the Internet is a major source of religious information where people of many cultures and languages collect their spiritual facts and opinions in private. Thus it’s a place where missionaries must be.

Despite the obvious potential for online evangelism mission computing is still largely seen as mission databases, accounting, fund-raising, email and publicity. Large “computing in missions” conferences debate security issues and networking but do not touch on how the IT staff can plant churches and reach unreached people groups for Jesus. That is left to “real missionaries” ! This paper is about how geeks can spread the gospel and how cyber-missionaries can go places where conventional missionaries cannot. More...


NEW. Submit your Christian site to this new directory:

TALKING RESULTS. How about a search engine that talks the results back to you? Great for someone with visual impairment:

URL CHECKER: use this handy tool to check which major search engines have included your site in their index and how many pages are included in their index:

INBOUND LINKS: a tool that tells you who is linking to your site:

GOOGLE ALERT. Track the entire web for a topic of your choice and receive new results by daily email:


Taken from Tony Whittacker's bulletin

ALTERNATIVE TO SCROLLING. Got a long webpage to read? Instead of using the scrollbar or mousewheel, hit your keyboard space bar. The page will move up one screen.

SP_M AND HOW TO AVOID IT. Useful understanding of this crazy problem:

TOTALLY ESSENTIAL WEBMASTER TOOL - if you are a webmaster, and use the wonderful Firefox browser (essential these days to check your site), grab this no-pay and wonderful Web Developer Extension bar:

PDF OPTIMIZATION. PDF files for the web can be made smaller in file size;


Looks like a new movie worth of seeing...
HOTEL RWANDA: moving, challenging, insightful. See's comments and video clip:

The internet -- 10 years past, 10 years future

This item on the history and future of the internet came out in today in Tony Whittaker's Web Evangelism Guide. It's an 8 minute presentation. The facts from 1994 to 2005 are accurate. The projections for the next 10 years (2005 to 2014) are based on directions from the internet of the past 10 years. Published at