Wayne MacPhail

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Wayne MacPhail has been a print and online journalist for 25 years. He was the managing editor of Hamilton Magazine and was a reporter and editor at The Hamilton Spectator until he founded Southam InfoLab, a national future information products facility for Southam Inc. in 1991. He went on to develop online content for most major players in Canada including Sympatico-Lycos, where he was the director of content. He is also a book author (Spin Doctors) and is a published and performed playwright (Abandon Hope Mabel Dorothy). He has taught online writing at several Ontario colleges and universities and is the co-owner of w8nc inc, a marketing and communications firm aimed at non- profit and educational organizations.
Columnists

Newsrooms have glance journalism up their sleeves

Photo: Margherita J. L. Lisoni/flickr

For years I've been impressing on my journalism students the importance of microcontent. But, until smartwatches came along, I just didn't realize how micro things would get.

Microcontent is the headlines, subheads, grabber quotes and other elements in larger-type sizes of an article's layout. Online they should serve to let the reader know what the story is about and reveal salient details about the content. Why? Because readers make choices about stories quickly, within seconds. And, those same readers are on a mission. They are hunters and gatherers looking for information that matters. If your microcontent doesn't let them decide whether your story is a nutritious news snack they need now, they will move on.

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Why is good interface so hard?

Photo: Mia Kos/flickr

Why is designing a good user interface so hard? Why do so many pieces of software on our mobile devices, desktops and gaming machines leave us lost, frustrated and railing at their arcane and ugly buttons, choices and placements?

There are four reasons, I think.

Constraints are good

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Bearing witness: A brief history of livestreaming

Photo: Anthony Quintano/flickr

Ironically, when I think about livestreaming video, a handful of events replay in my head.

The first happened on March 26. A fire raged on New York's East Village. Almost immediately food blogger Andrew Steinthal used the just-released Periscope app to livestream the blaze. Periscope turns iPhones into remote TV cameras; a single click, and you're broadcasting and spreading the news socially.

The week previous, another livestreaming app, Meerkat, had taken the technorati party SXSW by storm. But, on March 26, Periscope had its "Airbus in the Hudson" live news moment. And, backed by Twitter, Periscope eclipsed Meerkat, an app that had made livestreaming video cool again.

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Virtual or augmented: Pick your reality

Photo: Microsoft Sweden/flickr

How would you like your reality: virtual or augmented? You'll be choosing sides soon.

Microsoft's upcoming HoloLens headset will project 3-D models, Minecraft game spaces and computer screens into the real world around you, as real, they tease, as if they were there.

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Tapping on the window of invisible touch

Photo: Hernán Piñera/flickr

A wink is a single binary bit of information. The eye is either open or closed. But, across a dinner table, or a crowded room, a wink can communicate so much: "I'm in on the joke." "I saw what you did." "I'm on your side, kiddo." The tiny gesture pulls meaning from circumstance, context and relationship, directs its beam and then condenses it into a fleeting twitch of an eyelid.

Social gestures like that put pay to the notion that rich meaning requires high bandwidth. The gentle or painful squeeze of a hand on a forearm is loaded with opposite meaning and, even if delivered by the same person in the same circumstance, the simple variant of pressure speaks volumes.

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I am the 1%: How tech nerds can save the world

Photo: Jenn and Tony Bot/flickr

I am the one per cent. That is‚ the one per cent of people who are tech nerds. I line up for smartphones on launch day. I listen to gadget podcasts. I know the speed of my SSD drive. I get Dr. Who jokes and put an Apple sticker on my toaster. I am the geek your parents warned you about.

So, I am almost genetically incapable of understanding why everyone didn't back the Scanadu Scout or the Pebble watch on Kickstarter or can't wait to try Microsoft's HoloLens. Tech nerds are jerks about this stuff.

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Watch this: Apple delivers a smartwatch with function and style

Photo: Kārlis Dambrāns/flickr

OK, so now, after weeks -- dammit, months -- of speculation, Apple's Watch is finally on the catwalk and ready for its closeup. Although Apple has always been about elegance, now it's about elegance, fashion and, actions.

It is out to solve that incredible First World issue: the tiresome and exhausting need to remove your phone from your pocket or bag to read its screen, or even -- the humanity -- tell the time. We live like savages.

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A remembrance of webs past

Photo: Kevin Baird/flickr

A lot of the recent talk about Ello, an upstart social media site, has been about how the nascent community reminds members of the early days of the Internet. You know, before native advertising, privacy invasions and Buzzfeed.

Ello's appealing manifesto recalls the first days and first communities in the web. 

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The MacPhail-safe guide to better smartphone photos

Photo: Howard Ignatius/flickr

In the last few weeks new smartphones from a variety of manufacturers have sported improved cameras. I'm thinking here of the HTC One M8, the Moto X and the new iPhones.

Each one, in its own ways, has made it easier to take better pictures using phones with lenses and sensors that are, compared to other photographic gear on the market, Lilliputian. 

So, I thought it was a good time for me to present the MacPhail-safe Guide to Mobile Photography. Or, Five Tips for Taking Better Pictures with That Phone in Your Hand. 

Here we go.

Tip 1: Clean your lens.

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Hanging out in meet space: Tools for online collaboration

Photo: Caro's Lines/flickr

Hanging out with other humans is what humans like to do best. And, we have hundreds of ways and places to do it. So, it is strange that so many organizations have dreadful intranets that make hanging out as easy as a shoe-fitting at a mermaid convention.

For many companies, intranets are nothing more than PDF graveyards. Even organizations that pride themselves on collaboration have internal web spaces with no place for discussion, sharing or creating together.

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