Thursday, June 12, 2014

A framework for students to conceptualise future news e.g. WVU J-School Brainstorms an Experimental News Venture

University of Westminster MA International Student

It was a worthwhile exercise and brought back memories of work, as well as yielded thoughts about the future.

PBS Media shift's headline ran: 
How do you produce the future of news as an educator, similar to WVU J-School Brainstorms an Experimental News Venture. More here 
It continued... 
You have infinite resources, no obstacles, a talented startup staff and brilliant students: Now build an experimental venture from scratch. (With a caveat: You can’t replicate any existing models — you have to invent one.) 

Having undertaken approaches similar to Seward I thought of sharing this response. I;m an educator and in 2004 put together a team from the University of Westminster to tell the BBC about the future of News.
Whilst brainstorming is a tried and tested method for generating ideas, the cognitive ability to do so is limited by the individual's own experience or the Wisdom of the Crowd. That does not negate the benefits or efficacy of artistic thought, and perhaps has a 'cause effect' somewhere in the chain of ideas.
Put another way, if we consider this period as a renaissance, and look at previous 'bursts of thinking' in the 17th century, to conceive of flight at that time would have been a far-fetched idea.
However artist,Leonardo Da Vinci thought and conceptualised flying, yet it would take a couple more centuries before it was realised with the Wright Brothers.
The incidents of artists thinking up the future before the artefact materialises or catches up with societies' perceived 'natural form thinking' is legion.
Artistic thought by the way amongst journalist is not taught. Journalists tend to be rational and logical and as educators, we look out for this. These broadly two, but often overlapping themes, profoundly affect the way we think up new things.
I've been on the Net since 1996 and it's no small wonder that designers, technologists drive its future, but even then for the web to be commercial, it required logical sign posting for larger swathes of society to understand its worth.
So, amongst students/people etc. it can be challenging to reinvent the wheel because of our naturalised conditioning, and if we do invent something way off, it has the ring of art/science fiction about it.
Closer to conceptualising the future aligning with realism is to trend extrapolate. If Facebook does this now, and we as a society are like that in 2025 what will Quartz Mk V be like in 10 years time when it overtakes Facebook?
That feat involves comprehending, via analysis the rhetoric, history and mechanics of Facebook.
Of course that has its difficulties too. Technology and human thought are not always predictive.
Yet, even Facebook emerges from a linearity in thinking at the time. e.g. Friends United, MySpace... And both of these were products of Web 2.0 and Dotcoms.
This segues into my last point. Again, something I engage with my MA students.
Within the rational logical approach, as opposed to artistic, to look behind the wall, it is expedient to know what was there before and why.
This is the substance of media philosophy - arguably everything is philosophy, but a critical explication. Why is it called News and how was it framed news ( paper, TV, Online) at the time when one considers interconnecting matrices e.g. culture, tech, society?
Why do doors open the way they do? Why don't we pursue artistic skills in the same way we do literary and maths when growing up.
Research, research, research - not necessarily in Mass Comms, but in areas that promulgate discursive thinking.
That requires a different type of approach: reflective thinking, and some, around the acquisition of deeper levels of knowledge.
As educators we can help move these processes along by providing the framework to let different modes of conceptualising flourish. However, I'm rather taken by this which explores a common impediment.