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Posts from September 2015

News to me: European consumers stay informed with novel ways to “read” the paper

by Sairica Rose, cultural fluent

Taking a moment to sit and read a broadsheet from cover to cover is a pipe dream for many busy, perma-connected consumers. But the ritual of enjoying the news is experiencing a revival. Tech-enabled tools are helping even the most time-stretched and digitally dependent consumers go beyond scanning blogs or scrolling social media feeds to stay reliably informed.

Printed press remains a cult hero in southern European countries. Over 40% of Spaniards claim to read newspapers “every day” or “nearly every day”, according to the Centre for Sociological Research. And the majority prefer turning the pages (64%) to reading online versions (29%).

But getting news delivered in a sensually appealing format isn’t just for midlifers and seniors who nostalgically recall the ink on their fingers. The good news for European consumers (and journalists) is that a spectrum of innovative services are springing up to bring them reliable, relevant stories in a click — and save them the trouble of leafing endless pages or subscribing to entire publications.

Multi-tasking British teens and young adults can tune in to Clippet, an app that breaks news into digestible audio chunks. The news service employs 12 journalists aged 18 to 28 to script, produce and read 60-second “clippets” based on current events.

Phonicle is a nifty news-reading app that features professional radio DJs delivering top stories from mainstream dailies to on-the-go, info-thirsty German consumers. The free app seeks to bridge the gap between radio and printed news by combining the quality of a curated selection of up to 20 daily news articles, with the convenience of an audio platform.

For news buffs for whom every second counts, the UK’s Few Minutes app delivers popular news stories from major international press, filtered to suit users’ available reading time. Consumers can get their info fix while, say, waiting for a bus or having a coffee — and explore stories in further depth by bookmarking for later.

And selective, thrifty Dutch and German consumers can access full press articles online — without having to pay for the whole newspaper — at the Blendle digital kiosk. The service works on computers, iPads and smartphones, and claims to be to journalism what iTunes is to music: a practical, simple platform for readers who want to pick and choose what they consume, at a reasonable cost.


Classes and services help European consumers rekindle and revamp family traditions

by Sairica Rose, cultural fluent

New tech for old wisdom? Sounds like an oxymoron. But busy lives and generational differences have made it harder for many urbanites to embrace their heritage and the here and now — so, culturally proud, family-focused consumers of all ages are turning to services that steer them back to their roots by enabling better communication across generations and teaching young people the cultural traditions that far-flung relatives can’t.

In family-centric southern Europe, where grandparents play a key caregiving role, intrepid seniors are taking steps to better communicate with their grandkids. In the Spanish town of Boadilla del Monte, open-minded abuelos attend Grandparents’ School to learn how their grandchildren think, feel and communicate. The Town Hall-sponsored course, held at a local seniors’ centre, consists of 10 free, weekly two-hour lessons offering practical guidance and insight into youngsters’ relationships, education, values and leisure activities — all of which have evolved drastically since senior participants were kids.

Keeping in regular touch with the grandkids also means bridging the great tech divide — or so believe savvy Italian grandparents tapping into Lifeshare. The free app lets smartphone-braving seniors receive pics of their beloved grandkids without touching the screen, and get real-time notifications of their movements via SMS. The youngsters can customise the app’s settings, deciding what to share with whom.

In Turkey, home-style dishes have traditionally been passed down from mom to daughter, but with greater urbanisation and more women joining the workforce, learning to cook often gets relegated to the back burner. Now, young, nutrition-aware working mums are signing up for cookery classes at KitchenCreates, in Istanbul’s family-friendly Kadikoy neighbourhood. The sessions satisfy those looking to pick up culinary skills and learn how to incorporate international fare and lighter versions of traditional Turkish dishes into family meals.

In the same neighborhood, affluent young Turkish adults and midlifers can create decorative terrariums at monthly Bee Design and Flower Shop‘s workshops. In a modern take on their grandmothers’ gardening circles, participants — mostly women — learn how to artfully arrange succulents and cacti while nibbling snacks, sipping drinks, listening to jazz and mingling.

Embracing family and cultural traditions can boil down to spending quality time with loved ones. In the UK , where 7 in 10 families find it tough to grab an hour a day together (Daily Mail, 18 April 2014) the #PledgeOneHour campaign encourages parents to take advantage of free online ideas for enjoying quality time with their kids. The one-stop site offers indoor and outdoor activities, and craft and cookery make-and-dos. It aims to save parents precious time researching ideas which, according to the website, accounts for 202 days of childhood wasted.