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Get Your Geek On

By Michael Lotti

Al Tompkins wants you to be a geek. Or, at least, get geekier. Why? Because the extraordinary new tools of geekdom can help you do your job better.

Key example: A weather journalist in Alabama used his mobile phone to provide tornado updates via Twitter, Facebook, and his home station. Because of his work, thousands of people – even those without power – were able to get up-to-the-second coverage of weather and take shelter when severe winds or tornadoes came their way. As Tompkins put it, “Twitter is a lifesaving tool.”

Nearly all of the tools that Tompkins highlighted were smartphone apps. Here are a few:

  • BubbleTweet enables you to record short videos and link to them via your Twitter account. Cost: free.
  • VoiceBase allows you to record audio and get it automatically transcribed. Cost: the app is free, transcription is free to somewhat expensive depending on the level of transcription quality.
  •  UStream helps you post audio or video directly to your website and you Facebook and Twitter feeds. Cost: free (and no time limits!)
  • Poddio Audio Editing and 1st Video enable you to record and edit audio and video on a smartphone. Cost: $9.99 each.

By 2014, Tompkins noted, more people will access the internet via their mobile devices than through a computer. Moreover, it will be easier than ever to watch live television on a smartphone.  “What’s your play in all this?” he asked. “Are you set up to do multimedia? Will you be able to reach your audience in the digital world?”

Good questions.

Tompkins is a former broadcast journalist who now teaches at the Poynter Institute, a St. Petersburg-based journalism school that offers classes to students of all ages, mostly via online courses.