Thursday, February 28, 2008

First Try, First Fail...Google Maps,-122.461016&spn=0.012092,0.019956&z=16

Monday, February 25, 2008

Brewster Kahle and a Free Net

Discoveries can apparently come from anywhere. I have spent so much of my time in the past few years trying to figure out how I am going to be a “successful” journalist—success in this case equates to making money. However, this past Thursday I attended the Davies Digital Literacy Forum at USF where Brewster Kahle delivered a presentation on his Internet archive and a complex mobile instrument that publishes books in a van . His creations have the sole purpose of providing the public commons free access to knowledge in almost every arena.

Free access. What a truly innovative concept—providing free access to a world of information. According to Kahle however, this concept is not new at all—much of the Internet in its early stages was built around freedom for all. Down the line, when business saw money could be made, everything changed. And thus the emergence of pay-per-byte and pay-by-use systems were created, ruining what some believed could be a democracy of information available to all equally. Now, decades later, Google has the potential to privatize all digital information by creating an online monopoly.

In relation to Journalism, this could have a profound effect. If a monopoly on online information occurs, then credibility all together could face extinction. If a single source was the distributor of all knowledge in this new age of Web 2.0 where all text is susceptible to immediate change, then no one could truly trust web based news. For this reason it is important that there are many publishers, providers, and distributors of news all over the place, who might have different goals, but share a common objectivity.

Key word here is common. Free news should not be an outlandish concept. No one should have to pay for receiving the news. The digital divide has already removed a large chunk of the public from politics by disallowing them access to information through relatively high-tech mediums such as satellite TV, digital cable, and the Internet. We must have a common ground and that is: if you want to know something you should be able to without having to consider if your class/finance limitations restrict the possibility. Information, as Kahle says, should be the backbone of the public commons—democracy can only thrive with education. Back to the discovery intro. I’m not sure what kind of journalist I am going to be, but I’m certainly going to let anyone check out my work free of charge—unless Google buys me out too.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

One Man Band

One reporter, provided with the right technology and a little bit of focused time, can create media marvels once thought impossible without entire staffs dedicated to them. Reporters in growing numbers have become “one-man-bands,” as my University of San Francisco professor, David Silver, referred to them. Reporting, sound bites, video clips, photos/images, and text can all be derived from this single source to create works of media destined to be uploaded onto the web. This is one future of journalism. Another is the departure of news all together, save celebrity gossip magazines. Journalists must recognize that audiences today crave news and entertainment and simple print cannot suffice.

Really, it can’t. Print can no longer sustain itself; newspapers are dying. Circulation on a national scale has decreased. Diminished audiences have made commercial advertisers leery of buying ads, even in Sunday editions. Add in a failed system of local advertisement, due to such entities as Craigslist, and the downfall of traditional print becomes explicitly apparent. I’m no expert in business trends, but BNET is one and can describe this trend.

One way to provide both news and entertainment is through multi-media packages created by the “one-man-band.” Producers who think the convergence of mediums will create complex superfluities in which young audiences cannot follow are wrong. Play almost any game on a contemporary gaming system such as X-Box 360 or Playstation 3 and you will see my point: younger audiences have the capacity to absorb visual effects, sounds, and text at mindboggling speeds. Moreover, their attention spans for print have dwindled to almost nothing. My guess is that most 13 year olds can finish a video game before they can finish a book.

My generation lost the news to television sitcoms, MTV, online gaming, and an excess of many other distractions. But now we can win it back, at least for the next generation. How will we rope in these 13 year olds once they are 18 and graduating high-school? Through internet based mediums that illustrate the news with advanced audio and visual effects that may have to borderline on sensory overload. (Again, play X-box 360 or Playstation 3).

It is time for newspapers to stop playing it safe with their sub-par online versions and shift from 3rd up through 4th and 5th and into over-drive. The fast lane is becoming the only lane when it comes to news, so for those who are unwilling to keep up, please pull your Cady’s off the road and go play golf or something.

(For those who do not understand the impact of video games, refer to my 9/14/06 post titled Video Games.)

Image: thanks to Gizmodo