Why the rise of sites devoted to explanatory journalism is a trend worth celebrating

Gigaom

Everyone complains about the weather but no one does anything about it, a famous curmudgeon once said. The same criticism could have been made — until recently at least — about the media’s relentless focus on instantaneous news, thanks in large part to an explosion of real-time tools for instant journalism like Twitter (s twtr) and YouTube (s goog). But there are signs that this wave is being compensated for somewhat, thanks to an increasing number of digital efforts aimed at adding context, structure, background and analysis.

One of the most prominent examples is Project X, the as-yet-unnamed new venture from former Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein, who was hired by Verge and SB Nation owner Vox Media to build something he has described as a combination between Wikipedia and a breaking-news service.

But there are others as well, including at Klein’s old home the Washington Post, where…

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As utilities face looming disruption, there’s money to be made on both sides

Gigaom

The boom in solar panels on rooftops and ever cheaper batteries is a looming and disruptive issue for utilities across the U.S. The Rocky Mountain Institute recently published a report that says that the combo of solar roofs and energy storage (like batteries) could enable sizable chunks of the U.S. to defect from the grid by 2030, leading to an erosion of customers and revenue for utilities.

Many see the transition similar to how the phone companies were disrupted by free Internet calling tools like Skype. And like with that telecom trend, the transition in energy will create winners and losers that both are trying to compete directly with utilities and facilitate the disruption, and ones that are trying to create products that help utilities both survive and transition.

SolarCity

There’s innovative and successful startups on both sides. SolarCity has been building a large businesses off of signing up and financing…

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Inkshares wants to create a hybrid of traditional book publisher and crowdfunded digital platform

Gigaom

As with so many other media and publishing-related businesses, the book industry has been massively disrupted by the internet, to the point where an increasing number of authors have found success by avoiding the traditional publishing system altogether. But is the old-fashioned publisher model totally without value? The founders of Inkshares don’t think so — which is why they are trying to create a kind of hybrid platform that combines the benefits of crowdfunding with some of the services that traditional publishers have offered in the past.

Independent success stories like young-adult author Amanda Hocking — who wrote and sold her stories on Amazon’s Kindle platform and wound up becoming a multimillionaire in the process — are definitely inspiring, says Inkshares co-founder Adam Gomolin, but to some extent they are “unicorns,” in the sense that not every author is going to be able to duplicate their success.

Gomolin’s co-founder Larry…

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Europe: We don’t know what 5G is yet, but we’re damn sure going to lead the way with it

Gigaom

European Union vice president and digital chief Neelie Kroes is in an unenviable position. She’s trying to convince all of Europe to invest in 5G, saying it will be a big creator of jobs, an innovation driver in other sectors like automotive and eHealth and a key component of her plan to unify European carriers under a single regulatory framework.

The problem is neither she nor anyone else can really say what 5G actually is.

At what was perhaps the oddest press conference at Mobile World Congress this year, the technology and research heads of Ericsson(s eric), Alcatel-Lucent(s alu), Orange(s oran) and Nokia’s(s nok) network group all took turns on stage Monday explaining how they couldn’t define 5G. It’s still a network without an identity, and what technologies would eventually come to be known as 5G was anyone’s guess.Hype exaggeration marketing

Then Kroes joined took the podium proceeded to say…

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Lights, phones, action: Ericsson and Philips want to brighten your city while boosting your coverage

Gigaom

Ericsson(s eric) and Philips(s phg) have developed a type of LED street light that comes bundled with a tiny mobile base station. It may sound like an odd or niche combination, but this Zero Site concept is designed to solve two common urban problems in an efficient way, that will coincidentally prove highly lucrative for the Swedish telecommunications equipment giant and the Dutch electronics conglomerate.

Those problems are the so-called mobile data explosion, and the increasing need for cities to cut their energy consumption. And for Ericsson in particular, the Zero Site scheme could see its equipment embedded into urban infrastructure in an unprecedented way.

Densification, illuminated

The inexorable rise of the mobile device, particularly in this 4G era, is causing a change in the way cellular carriers design their networks. People are using so much data that the traditional setup – a fairly widely distributed scattering of large mobile…

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