Posts Tagged ‘Convergence’

We have already established that traditional journalism is in a rut, but what can we do about it? I recently saw a clip on YouTube where David Carr from the New York Times and Andy Lack from Bloomberg Media discusses the future of Journalism, but I must admit that as I was listening to them I did not hear anything that I haven’t heard before, nothing revolutionary. They posed questions like ‘how should Journalism be created and distributed in the future?’ and ‘what are the new business-model and how does the changing economic look like?’, they confirmed that the old model of journalism is gone and that the making and distribution of media need to change, that the bag of resources journalists have today is huge compared to before, and also that digital media and traditional journalism is in a state of convergence, but there were no ideas or thoughts that steered us in the direction of what the answer to this might be. On top of this, when Tom Fiedler (Boston University) mentions that ‘Journalism education today is an escalator to no-where’ and that young people’s attention-span might be shorter than before they shake their heads in concert and refuses to see it as a problem. I am more than happy for them to be right, but there needs to be reasoning for it.

On the other hand, Tom Rosenstiel delivers a very interesting TedTalk on the future of Journalism. He explains that news is still on demand, but the audience is demanding when to get them, where to get them and what it should be about compared to adjusting their day according to the 6 o’clock news. He therefore says that news stories today must be presented differently and he points to a very interesting way of thinking; the new model of journalism must study its audience and their devices. People have all sorts of toys today; tablets, mobile-phones and laptops, but we use them at different times and we use them for different things. I found it very useful what Rosenstiel said about people often waking up in the morning and checking their smartphones in bed, then perhaps changing to their tablets at the breakfast table (whatever happened to socializing..), opening their laptops on their way to work and possibly using a stationary computer at work. Understanding this and understanding what content which gadget is good for is helpful in understanding how Journalism can serve the audience best.

Reference:

bu, 2014, NYT’s David Carr on the Future of Journalism, 6 March, YouTube, viewed 16 April 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPlazqH0TdA

TedxTalks 2013, The Future of Journalism: Tom Rosenstiel at TEDxAtlanta, YouTube, 28 May, viewed 16 April 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuBE_dP900Y

Here are some comments that I made to other people that reflected on the same two videos:

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If you had asked me a year ago if I thought objects were able to communicate with other objects and with humans, I would have said no. An alarm clock is only an alarm clock, it cannot possibly know that I must get up 15 minutes earlier today because there have been an accident on the road, and therefore I must drive a longer way to work. Well guess what, I have just been told and convinced, that this is today a fact. How incredible is that?

Through the use of radio frequency identifiers (RFID) and networked sensors, objects of all sizes can now be connected to the Internet and contribute to the flow of information online. Once an object is connected it will be branded with its own unique IP address so it is identifiable as well as locatable, it will register changes in its environment through its sensor which it can store and process, and it will be able to communicate this information to humans and initiate action (Mitew 2012).

I see so much potential in this! There is the fun and practical aspect of it, like the example of the alarm clock which communicates with the car, which knows that it needs gas, and therefore you are woken up 10 minutes earlier. There are visions of having a whole smart-house where everything communicates with each other as well as with you through your smartphone. There is no doubt that it can be done, but I am not convinced that I will adopt this life-style where I am literally stripped of responsibilities; my coffee is finished when I wake up, the dishwasher goes on automatically when it is full, the fridge tells me when I am out of milk, the vacuum-cleaner has cleaned my house.. well I will probably conform to the latter.

But this technology can also be used for many good things. Julian Bleecker in “Why Things Matter” talks about “pigeons that are equipped with some telematics to communicate on the Internet wirelessly, a GPS device for tracing where its been flying, and an environmental sensor that records the levels of toxins and pollutants in the air through which they fly.” What he is saying is that through this technology we can learn very much about our environment, important facts that can help us predict future issues. Imagine doing this with fish, plants, or even buildings, imagine all the valuable information we could retrieve.

The Internet of Things has truly come to grab my attention. But I take notice of one more thing. We invent and develop new technologies all the time, most of it today in relevance to the Internet, everything goes online, but when are we going to see changes in our privacy laws? With these tiny censors on cell-phones, t-shirts, pets, cars etc. we are more than likely to be traced and recognized wherever we are. So although I enjoy the exciting ride of new technology, I will not truly enjoy it before someone steps up and develop a privacy law which is adapted to our new digital age.

Reference: Mitew, T 2012, The internet of things, lecture, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 22 October.

 

Today we are in the middle a digital revolution, a technological shift which threatens the survival of many industries. In my latest post I have been discussing the possibilities to how industries can join the new online market and how they might adapt to a technological age. As of today many industries, especially the media industries seem to refuse to let go of their old business models. Personally I find myself thinking a bit like a technological determinist, we have to accept cultural and social changes which comes with new technologies, it makes no sense to resist. We have always invented new things that have changed our way of behavior and communication, very often to the better, so why not this time?

Power and control; probably the key words to why this revolution is met with so much resistance. Politics and news have walked hand-in-hand for a very long time, and both politicians and media owners have become very powerful through such cooperation. The Internet builds a foundation for a true democratic society, good for the consumer, but bad for authorities.

But let us look at the possibilities. I am not going to focus on the possibilities to maintain control, but the possibility to maintain business and revenue. The problem with industrial media is that it has always been centralized. The collection, production and distribution of news were built on a one-to-many model which gave these industries advantages through gatekeeping. They were able to filter and decide what was the news of the day, they had the power to judge what was important and what we were supposed to think. This screams propaganda, doesn’t it?

Today we are citizen journalists. We also decide what is the news of the day, judge what is important and influence what people should think. The Internet decentralized the news-market; it took the control out of the authorities’ hands. For democracy, this is a victory, but I still think that we need these media industries. We need them for quality control and distribution.

Many people can write a very convincing and important blog about a certain issue, but most people do not have the resources to check the accuracy of this information, I am sure many citizen journalists do, but to be honest, most of us do not. Most of us write and publish, without having researched the facts and background of the content.

With platforms like Twitter information can be aggregated into topics. When I post this blog to Twitter, no one will probably notice it, but if I use the hashtag #gatewatchers, it is a very different matter; my blog will end up in a very interesting search, which suddenly enhances the value of my blog-post.

What media-industries could do is to change their way of finding information. Instead of being told by editors: “Today we should be focusing on the U.S election”, journalists could use these aggregation-platforms to search for interesting and important news. Not only will we be a part of what the news is, but originally the news would be written by citizen journalists and the content would be made out of our opinions, not the editors. The role of the media industries would be quality control, to improve an already good piece of journalism as well as to distribute it to make sure it gets attention from the right people.

At least I would find the news much more trustworthy in the way that I know it is not just a piece of propaganda, it is something someone out there really cares about. In this way, I can see a very much improved public sphere.

For a long time now I have been discussing convergence and how it has affected us. I have mentioned that we are now producers as well as users, and that we are participating in creating content as well as publishing it. The Internet also makes it easy for us to access content. Everything can be copied, actually everything IS a copy, and because of this the content in itself loses its value. E.g. If I produce a song and publish it online where everyone can download it for free, who will be willing to pay for it? When the information in itself loses its value, what becomes the new value? Kevin Kelly wrote a brilliant piece on this called “Better than free”. The article says;

“When copies are super abundant, they become worthless.When copies are super abundant, stuff which can’t be copied become scarce and valuable.”

He calls that stuff “generative values”:

  1. Immediacy. Although people have access to the content, many would pay for a VIP membership which gave them even better deals; discounts to concerts, announcements directly in their mailboxes etc.
  2. Personalization. Everybody can get a free copy of an album, but would you pay extra for a special greeting to you from the artist?
  3. Interpretation. Software might be free, but everyone needs a manual, which could be expensive.
  4. Authenticity. The kindle is good, but would you perhaps pay for the author’s signature? Maybe a signature AND a personal greeting?
  5. Accessibility. Storage of content is free; would you pay someone to organize it? To make it available to you everywhere at any time, without the advertisement?
  6. Embodiment. Music is free online, but experiencing your favorite band play live is worth your money.
  7. Patronage. Radiohead asked fans to “pay-what-they-wanted” for an album. Many appreciative fans would use the opportunity to thank an artist this way, would you?
  8. Findability. With so much content in the world, it might be hard to be discovered and “found”. Many would pay to become more visible.

I really enjoyed these generative values because they answered a question that has struck my mind many times while reflecting on convergence. What can they do? All the industries which struggle to control their content, what can they do now that we can access it all online for free? The little extra! When content becomes abundant and loses its value, businesses need to discover what their new scarcity is.

In the traditional manner the content-industries found information for us by controlling access to it. Due to limitations of time and space these distributors have created a hit-driven culture, serving us a fruit-bowl of popular content to choose from, also called the mass-market. But with the rise of online aggregators (e.g. google), the control have shifted from monitoring access of content to monitoring the attention of content. One way of doing this is by the use of search-algorithms.

This week I was introduced to this article; “The long tail” by Chris Anderson. In short, Anderson suggests that because we are no longer constrained by limited time and space, and because the cost of distribution and production declines (online),   there is no longer a reason to only focus on a small number of “hits” or mainstream products. A local book-store in a small town will only keep a limited selection of the most popular authors because they know this will be sold, the niche-markets are neglected because they do not have enough space or money to distribute products to these minorities. In the online world this has becomes a different story. Here, there are always someone who likes something, somewhere, and it costs nothing to distribute it. When the top 20% of the popular content is sold, the sale continues throughout millions of niche-markets, and this revenue actually overcomes the commercial business of the mass-market.

I am very surprised that I have never heard talk of this “long tail” before. Maybe it is just appearing now because we are shifting into an information-era, but I am still surprised that the content-businesses are not embracing this more. Aggregators and algorithms have opened up the nieche-markets to the world. So many people seek other content than what is served by the mass-market, and it is only logic that industries ought to take an interest in this and discover the possibilities.

Reference:

Mitew, T 2012, Into the cloud: the long tail and the attention economy, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 2 September.

I love media convergence! Suddenly we all became these nerdy civil journalists that were able to speak our minds to the world. To me this ongoing dynamic is great and I get to exploit it in many cool ways. I now have a smart-phone which allows me, not only to make phone calls, but to check my g+ account, send a tweet, capture a photo instead of a mental picture and even film it if I need to! Obviously that is just a few examples of what I can do, my point is that convergence has made my cell-phone become this multimedia platform compared to what it used to be 10 years ago.

I cannot remember the exact model of my first cell-phone. It was year -98 or -99 and the phone was very yellow, very heavy and very cool. With it, I was able to text and talk basically 🙂

With today’s cool new technologies, and of course with the Internet onboard, we become “prosumers” (Mitew 2012) instead of consumers, meaning that we are able to produce new content or modify already produced content: Rip, mix & burn (I did not say we were allowed). This used to be a privilege for only the wealthy industries given that the production used to be very expensive, that was also the time when I used to pay a heavy price to watch a good movie at the cinema. But the Internet changed this. It is now free for a person like me to produce content online as well as publishing it, this obviously also makes me able to watch content for free online – great huh? Not so great for the big conglomerates though. Scarcity is money for the industries. Ownership and control of content is the key in their business-model, so the concept of media convergence is not speaking to them as it does to me.

We should not underestimate these big industries. As the world become more convergent they see the need to protect their content through patenting and stricter copyright laws, and we are definitely witnessing this today; license agreements (EULA), patent-wars and user content being removed from the web due to copyright infringements.

Convergence is also challenging to old business models. Take the good old bookstore! Although we see a survivor here and there from time to time, this business is basically dead, replaced by Amazon’s kindle and online book outlets. The same happened to photo-shops which also moved online. The list of obsolete business models is only getting longer. That fact that I find media convergence to be great is a statement made by looking from my own perspective. Many people lose their jobs due to this dynamic, it is hard to adapt and modify a whole society into a technological era, but it is happening, and personally I think it is for the better. Our options are increasing, our knowledge is shared and to be honest, having things online just makes things easier and more convenient.

Reference:

Mitew, T 2012, Transglobal entertainment and media convergence, lecture, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 27 August.