The Digital Gloss Files - November 29

...with Julia Low

Play School has an app! Designed for two to six-year-olds, the free ABC Art Maker app encourages imagination and creativity by allowing children to create pictures, animate a Play School movie, make a story slideshow and catch up on episodes. The American Society of Pediatrics says screen time for under-2s is a no-no, and children older than 2 should be limited to 1 to 2 hours per day, while a recent survey of NSW school children found 44% of primary school aged kids are exceeding healthy screen time limits. So, Play School is cool but not at the expense of physical activity and independent creative play. 

Still at the ABC, head of arts and entertainment programming Amanda Duthie has told Graeme Blundell of The Australian that the digital Arts Gateway founded in 2010 is competing with the artists themselves with the smallest of galleries embracing cheap technology to showcase their own work in video broadcasts. "It's all shifting so quickly; what were once arts venues have become distributors of their own product," she said. "They show the work; there are interviews with the artists, behind-the-scenes journalism and they even commission short films." Just one of the many industries taking consumer media matters into its own hands.

NewsLifeMedia today announced the extension of 14 of its mastheads onto Zinio's digital newsstand platform. Four NewsLifeMedia mastheads have already launched on Zinio – GQ Australia, Vogue Australia, ABC delicious. magazine ($19.99 for six issues) and donna hay magazine – with another 10 mastheads to follow over the coming weeks.

It’s official: a Facebook smartphone is in the works, and the social networking giant has chosen mobile phone maker HTC to build it. A Facebook spokesperson told AllThingsD, “Our mobile strategy is simple: We think every mobile device is better if it is deeply social. We’re working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers to bring powerful social experiences to more people around the world.”

Meanwhile, at Apple,  last time it was the Nano burning down the house, now it's the iPhone...(almost) burning down the plane.   

Would you enjoy making in-app purchases while browsing through a digital copy of your favourite magazine? According to The Association of Magazine Media, digital subscribers say yes. Advertisers can now breathe a sigh of relief as the demand for e-commerce features within digital publications has risen with 59% of mobile magazine readers wanting the ability to buy directly from ads and 70% wanting to purchase products and services directly from editorial features.

“’Tis the season for Chromebooks,” jingles Google on their official blog. Unfortunately, Australia won’t be receiving any of the single-cloudbased computer running Google Chrome OS this holiday season despite promises from manufacturers for a late 2011 launch.

On the bright side, Virgin Mobile are giving away 75 bicycles as part of their “’Tis the season to be Free” campaign, also known as “Australia’s Biggest Bike Hunt: Like, Locate, Love.” Over the next few weeks leading up to Christmas, Virgin Mobile will be giving out clues about the each bike’s location to participants via the treasure hunt’s official website. Happy hunting!

O The Oprah Magazine's Favorite Things Give-O-Way is up and running with readers given the opportunity to win all 70 gifts picked by the team, including GWAS' fave columnist Martha Beck's choice of silver and gold-dipped necklaces engraved with inspiring mantras. It's also a season of gratitude at O.

Our friend Serena at doggy blog Pretty Fluffy is giving away some things for the dog-child in your life. 

“What’s the point of Twitter?” asks Graeme McMillan in an article for TIME Techland. While there are many potential answers to that question (“Twitter supplements your social life, while Facebook seeks to replace it” was one suggestion), McMillan believes that “it’s not what you say, it’s what happens afterwards”, with regard to Twitter as a powerful platform that has the ability to spark meaningful and effective dialogue. Hands up who has donated to a charity or got involved in a social movement via Twitter?

Last Monday saw the launch of the inaugural National De-Friend Week, a campaign created by Australian Social Media entrepreneur Dave Abrahams to encourage individuals to nurture friendships outside of social networks as well as to de-clutter their lives of toxic friendships.

Paywalls and the digital distribution of newspapers are inevitable, reports The Australian. According to a survey of global trends and different models of paywalls in operation conducted by Citigroup, flailing newspaper circulation leaves publishers with two choices: to breathe new life into their print product or to embrace technology and accept potentially lower short-term returns through digital distribution. However, paywalls will never fully offset the decline of print revenues, the research says.

The concern with privacy infringement just keeps getting bigger (and creepier) as the issue is no longer confined to just the Internet. TIME has reported that a pair of shopping centres is testing out a new technology that tracks customers’ movement around the centre using a signal from their mobile phone. Akin to the functions of a website stat counter, the technology’s main purpose is to log customers’ length of stay and track their location as they go from shop to shop. Susan Grant, director of consumer protection at the Consumer Federation of America, believes this is worrisome, especially if the location data falls into the wrong hands.

The Guardian Media Group is selling along with its parent company, ContentNext Media, after only three years since its acquisition. Of this decision, a Guardian spokesperson said in a statement, “ContentNext is a high-quality asset but our focus in the U.S. is on building The Guardian.” is said to have a price tag of up to US$20 million.

Popular music streaming service Spotify will soon arrive on local shores as former Google Australia executive Kate Vale has been appointed as sales director for Australia and New Zealand. Spotify is a service based in the UK that offers paying users unlimited access to millions of songs on their computers or mobile devices.

Textbooks will soon join the digital ranks of e-books as the iPad and Kindle are gradually adding more titles to their catalogues and offering textbook rental services that expire after one or two semesters. Publishers claim that e-textbooks will allow for a multimedia and intuitive approach, but one wonders just how intuitive it can be facing a computer or tablet all day as opposed to interacting with teachers and friends in classrooms. 

Julia @ Girl With a Satchel
Julia Low is a third-year journalism student and blogs @ This Daisy