Sunday, November 15, 2009

Future communications and journalism

In the 1700s the government of the day laxed the laws on newspapers and the pamphleteers had a field day. The scenario is not so unfamiliar to today, except it's different institutions attempting control.

Talking at SXSW in January, I told a warm and generous audience who showed up to my 10.00 Saturday presentation that the rules of videojournalism, the nature of comms was still being rewritten.

It stands to reason really; we're in the pamphleteer era. New scions are making their mark, many are yet to. There will be chaos and upheaval until it gradually settles, but then it never will.

There are some standards: we like stories; we need commerce, but the currencies are changing. Stories are being devised in an assortment of ways. videojournalism neither exclusively news, nor docs is laying down its marker, whilst the oldest system of trade is gaining pace.

Bartering. Money will suffice. Murdoch wants it to, but it won't always be the method of exchange, we know that much. Stallman probably had no idea what all this would come to

A video magazine
When I built my site in 2004 I had a number of strong views; some have materialised as common themes: embedding video within a page, whilst others are yet to crystallise.

Apologies I'm not trying to be clever. But perhaps to illustrate how easy it was for traditionalists to be dismissive of ideas, when you did not have the tools or skill set to produce them. The rest is trend extrapolation.

A similarly trend extrapolated is video hyperlinking; embedded scanable links from XML driven TV, which can be stored, accessed etc. Deep drilling in video and accessing more of what we like, will get more interesting. If you're a TV show not carrying perma links, you will. TV always learns the hard way, from the newer media.

TV show making and its second shift aesthetic will be overhauled.

I've looked to congeal the years of radio, TV and print and ask what if? Firstly through a scientific methodology around my training as an Applied Chemist, then journalism and now through social sciences at SMARTlab and the Arts.

Fact is we're still in the dark ages of the web. History tells us that. Broadband speeds are still poor, despite our ambitions. Fathom what will happen at unlimited downloads- no constrains - actually 100mb first please.

Future Design
Think how the language of html to hxtml, will be ceded by xml. Design seven years on will have embraced a new renaissance, based around open spaces and mobile devices.

I mentioned that full blown video across the page would be the norm sometime ago. That didn't go down to well with some, but they were honourable not to throw eggs.

Next week I'll be sharing my views on the future of comms in a keynote with UK CEOs. I still subscribe to the comments on Apple's profile site that any attempt at predicting the future is a mug's game. But we can guestimate some intelligent trajectories.

I've amassed a number of interviews from key players to whom I grateful and will with some dispassion and academic rigour deconstruct those.

Content Analysis is producing some interesting ideas. There are also obvious holes in what we can plug e.g. our misuse at present of journalism grads and the methodologies for pushing forward online - finance evaluation.

The latter is a legacy of the dotcom boom when PE ratios meant nothing. Today, assets and liabilities still don't square up in modern nomenclature. Nine years on you'd think MBAs would have cracked it.

Meanwhile we continue to constrain a new system into an aging one. We do that for obvious job security reasons and the notion that it's better to modify, rather than entirely rebuild Rome. Furthermore how can you create what you're not completely sure of.

In some respect that's when art comes in. Whilst innovation without functionality is meaningless, this fluid period we see ourselves in combines artistic practice with a technology bent towards conceiving any number of ideas. Entrepreneurial indeed says Jeff Jarvis.

You begin to think we need to also reinvent a whole new vocabulary - it's happening. Our thoughts might turn to new modes of knowledge creation for a new generation - that's happening too.

And as we plough ahead, it's also worth looking back, farther back to contextualise. The past may not have all the answers we seek, but we deny its impact at our peril.

Those pamphleteers, some started to publish books, Defoe became one of the most celebrated journalists, many others went to the wall. We're not so different after all, but for sure it's not exactly the same.

David Dunkley Gyimah, academic, video journalist and artist in residence publishes next year looking at integrated video and videojournalism