Some news stories, such as the current mystery of what happened to a Malaysian Airliner that seemingly disappeared from sight, are difficult to keep up with due to their dynamic and ever-changing nature of almost daily updates that add new and previously unpublished information.
Being cranky and snowed in on the east coast, I was ready to remain skeptical when talking to Robert Hernandez, USC Annenberg journalism professor, about his work with Google Glass and what news orgs could do with them. But his determination to explore what he calls ‘post-mobile’ tools and how journalists can use them convinced me. I (almost) want a pair, once they’re more stylish and I don’t have to talk to them, which will happen, according to Hernandez.
“When have we as an industry ever benefited by dismissing or feeling above an emerging technology?” he asks.
From the internet itself, to blogging, or micro-blogging, or mobile, you’d think we’d have learned our lesson by now. The debate shouldn’t be about when it’s going to catch on or how dorky they look or how people don’t want to talk to themselves to find information. It’s about getting in there and finding out how we might start to use the technology.
Google Glass isn’t the best iteration of itself , but the ‘post-mobile’ world is inevitable, he says, “and if its inevitable what are the features that you want?” He’s calling it post-mobile or micro-content:
I was going to call it ‘light content’ but I know haters will think of ‘fluffy’ content. The premise of Google Glass is that it doesn’t affect your life…it’s not an immersive thing, it’s about eliminating the time, those seconds, of pulling out your phone and unlocking it and searching. Is that good or bad? I’m not going there.”
He’s right. Think about when Twitter came out and we all rolled our eyes over 140 characters. Read more
Lately, there’s been talk of an emerging phenomenon that gives a whole new meaning to the term computer-assisted reporting.
New technology being tested and used by huge names in journalism allows computer programs to parse complex data and statistics and compose the information into a readable news story.
In a recent American Journalism Review article, Samantha Goldberg reports on companies like Narrative Science and Automated Insights, two of the startups on the cutting edge in this debuting endeavor. Both companies use artificial intelligence to extract data and work it into a narrative after interpreting, analyzing and systematically translating quantitative content into something meaningful. Media companies like Forbes, the Huffington Post, Business Insider and Sports Illustrated have either backed the companies or are using their services to distribute content efficiently and with fewer staff members. Plus, it’s cheaper than paying living, breathing humans to write stories on topics that require time-consuming research, analysis and writing time. And, allegedly these pieces of software are so good that they are capable of structuring a news story while maintaining a decently conversational tone. Don’t know if I’d ever compare it to a human writer’s unique “style,” but Narrative Science and Automated Insights’ algorithms make it so that the news stories aren’t impossibly dry.
Yesterday, hot on the heels of its recent spate of acquisitions, Yahoo! picked up an interesting little app started by a 15-year-old kid in his family’s London home. The app, Summly, was rumored to be picked up by the search company for a cool $30 million, and it stands to change the way Yahoo! looks at news generation.
More importantly, Summly has the potential to revolutionize how digital news is ingested, both online and on mobile.
The impetus for Summly came to teenage Nick D’Aloisio when he realized that the physical activity of sorting through and reading his daily online news was just exhausting. Founded in 2011, Summly cut down news articles by distilling their words into simple, 400-character summaries and displaying them on a mobile interface that catered to the user’s specific tastes.
Check out Summly’s concise description, with Stephen Fry, below: Read more
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