Come the revolution: Media must adapt to mobile computing

 Otto Sjoberg stands on stage while a photograph of his teenage son and young daughter project onto the large screens on either side of him. “This is Hugo and Cornelia,” he announces to the audience.

“Hugo grew up with television and a desktop (computer). He is a digital native. But for Cornelia,” Sjoberg pauses for effect, and holds his smartphone high in the air, “this is her first screen.”

“You can’t fool the children of the revolution,” he declares with a smirk.

Otto Sjoberg, president and founder of Media (r)evolution, at INK+BEYOND 2012For more than an hour, Sjoberg, the president of Media (r)evolution and the former editor-in-chief of the Swedish newspaper Expressen, gave an impassioned speech to those at the INK+BEYOND newspaper conference in Toronto on the explosion of mobile electronics. The goal of his talk was to motivate writers and businesses to look beyond traditional publishing, towards possibilities that have only recently opened up thanks to new digital technologies.

“The speed of revolution and change is so high. We have to realize we’re only at the beginning of this.”

To bolster his point, Sjoberg played a clip of famed futurist Ray Kurzweil discussing the exponential growth of technology. Kurzweil has long-supported what he has dubbed the “law of accelerating returns” whereby technology improves at an ever-quickening pace. This results in technological breakthroughs that may have been impossible only a few years earlier.

It is a concept some find difficult to grasp. But to Sjoberg, it is the key to understanding the “mobile revolution.”

“Our intuition is linear, not exponential,” said Sjoberg. “We cannot (see) the speed of this change.”Sjoberg offers perspective by noting some popular technologies that didn’t even exist just over a decade ago

With more than 30 years of experience working for major media corporations, Sjoberg is adamant about pushing people to embrace the latest technological trends. With the rise of smartphones and tablet devices like Apple’s iPad selling in the tens of millions, information, from breaking news to tomorrow’s weather, is more widely available than ever before. To Sjoberg, consumers are leading the charge into the future of mobile computing, and now media groups must be proactive if they want to stay ahead of customers’ expectations.

Shelley Fox works as a graphics designer for Lookout Newspaper, a weekly paper that caters towards Canada’s naval forces. Fox spends much of her day in front of a screen building websites or interacting with people on various social media platforms, but admits she sometimes has a hard time keeping up with the latest trends.

“I’m a 40-year-old techie. I do my best,” she said.

Lookout recently took steps towards building its own mobile strategy. The paper has reached out to readers to submit photographs and updates to create a group of “virtual roving reporters.”

So far, the move has been successful. For Lookout, it is a small step into a much larger world.

Sjoberg stressed that businesses should view the growth of the mobile market as a tremendous opportunity. If everyone is always connected all the time, it means having access to an almost unlimited aud