In the link below you will find our final proposal for a device that could improve citizen journalism. We hope you like it and any feedback is very welcome.
If you want to see our presentation with a little video of MobE in action, here’s the link:
>> 1. How much of this is automated? How are you going to balance computer aided versus human editors?
I would like to bring in a handful of renowned editors and with their advice build a.i. avatars who would guide the programming for editing beyond the app’s ability. These editors would also be able to watch as stories unfold and communicate directly to a citizen journalist to ask them questions and commend them for their work, a serendipitous benefit since a citizen journalist will never know when Paul Krug may come online to chat with them
>> 2. What if reports conflict? The point is that actually eye witnesses don’t agree so are you going to include the disagreement? go with consensus? You might think about Wikipedia here, but also think about maybe not replicating Wikipedia.
I personally love that reports will conflict and as a matter of accessing the full-site a reader would be able to peel away the layers of the story and miscellaneous reports that came in about the story. Each report would be time and location coded and – this is important for the full site – user coded. The user code will access that “reporter’s” history of reportage and reviews by peers about their past reportage. While the mobile editor may simplify a story and eliminate redundancy and create one report by many, a reader of the full site would have the ability to peel back the layers and while this may appears all-for-one kind of effort a few “reporters” would rise in popularity and a reader would have the ability to follow reporters they like…and those they don’t like.
>> 3. What about audio/video/images, how do those figure in?
I vote for a skin thin patch (Sarah found a smart patch idea that I liked) that can contain all things from audio, visual, and voice recognition for dictation. This patch can be positioned on you to take the best vantage of the event as it happens – even on your forehead
>> 4. In some sense this is a storify on steroids.
>> 5. What about for stories that aren’t space based. It would work well for geography based local stories, but maybe not so much for large ones. How would this scale? Long Form – fan fiction based stories – Someone pitches an idea based on a report of an event wherein long form edits can be accumulated to expand on a pitched story. This would work best from the reader of the full site wherein a report and all the layers of contributions are archived.
I watch a lot of anime – anime being animation created in the East by Japan, mostly, but also Korea, China, and so on. A lot of this anime deals with The Future, what the future will hold, how it will look, act, react, so on and so forth. So when I look at the design our project is taking, I start to wonder: Using the anime world as a template,what’s the best way to do this?
Let’s start with some of the best ways not to do this.
Wet-wiring the news device directly into our brains is a giant no. The definition of wet-wiring, in this context, is hooking our brains directly into a machine. Think The Matrix, but without a full body hookup. The brain and the brain alone would be locked in. Why would this be a no? Consider for a moment the game Minecraft. Yes, I know, giant leap in logic is giant – bare with me for a moment. Minecraft is a massive sandbox creativity game with monsters, zombies, and exploding creepy Creepers thrown in for flavor. Its generally considered LEGOs on a massive electronic scale; you can play virtually with your friends via dedicated servers. No one would ever go in to this friendly environment and tear down people’s beloved projects to turn them into swastikas, complete with a sign reading “Hail Hilter foreverz!”, right?
I really wish I was kidding, but this happened to my friends and I just this week. The point of all this, though, is that we can’t trust the world as a whole to not take drastic advantage of our journalism tool and transform it into something – well, nasty. Or worse than nasty. As in “Body Snatcher because its fun to mess with people” nasty.
So how could we do this?
We’d like to keep the journalism tool something simple, something you don’t have to think about. So, why not make it a wristwatch? When breaking news comes in, the wristwatch buzzes to get your attention. Plug in your earbuds, or use the speaker on the wristwatch, to hear an audio report of the breaking news. This leads direct to Question 3: What about audio/video/images, how do those figure in? Why not instruct the wristwatch to e-mail you links to the video and images?
Which would make this a bit more than a wristwatch. This would make it a subscription based wristwatch. In essence, instead of having one account per newspaper or per online sight, you would have one account overall. All the news would be aggregated to this account, and the subscription fees would go towards improving the product and the journalists covering the news. Its a win-win.
Or at least that’s what I hope it would be. The reality would need to be taken on a case by case basses.
In 2008 I saw Todd Haynes’ Velvet Goldmine. Velvet Goldmine is a fictionalized account of a brief love affair between David Bowie and Iggy Pop though the characters carried different names in the movie. Rumors of a love affair between Iggy Pop and David Bowie were real. Whether David loved Iggy has never been proven. Regardless I love both Iggy Pop and David Bowie, and I loved their love affair on the screen. Haynes very commonly worked on films representing popular figures through representing both events that are documented and events that are fictionalized. Other Haynes biopics include Elephant, a retelling of Columbine High School massacre by following the teen killers who killed others and loved one another in rumor and in the film if only for a moment; and Superstar, the biopic of Karen Carpenter told with Barbies. Barbie is a doll with a story of idealization beyond her plastic body. Most recently Haynes made a biopic of Bob Dylan.
In Haynes’ I’m Not There Bob Dylan is represented by five actors. Only one of the characters is called Bob Dylan. In I’m Not There three of the Dylan characters are not only not called Bob Dylan but they don’t even sing. The one character named Bob Dylan and who plays the musician Bob Dylan is represented by an actress nervously chewing her finely pedicured hands. The cast of characters probably sounds difficult to follow but it is not. While each character either affects Bob Dylan’s best affectations, fills the central character of a well publicized Bob Dylan event, or simply must be Bob Dylan because he is the central character in the scene, we the audience know which character is Bob Dylan.
Haynes does not exercise his ability to make films so that we can amuse ourselves with a game of Find Waldo. Haynes subjects are enigmatic public characters in part by their own genius of reinvention and how the audience interprets and reinterprets their story. Of the movies I have discussed celebrity surrounds each of the central characters. Each character displays a quixotic persona in the work he produces and due to celebrity. Celebrity belies a common desire by a celebrity’s audience to understand the object of its desire yet storm of stories surrounds events of the celebrity keeps the object of desire out of reach. The stories and obsessive retelling of the stories of a celebrity becomes a fun-house mirror in a hall of mirrors.
It is important to keep in mind celebrity’s fun-house hall of mirrors as the Journalism Group attempts to build an application that will give the power of reportage to the citizen journalist. All our attempts to build a reportage format that eliminates redundancy with a virtual editor – who represents the one true voice ruling the story – will fail. While a capturing mechanism, editing application, and reference site for the audience of a story can be built, the audience will re-report and represent a story so that is takes a life of its own. There will be no one solution to reporting a story. I look forward to building the best application we can and I look forward to devising an application that will retell every story posted even if it that application is good old word of mouth. And tomorrow I will review and post the best means – I know at this point in time – to make the application “fool proof.”
I am going to do the same thing that Elisa did in her earlier post and give my take on the answers to Dave’s questions regarding our project proposal. In addition, I will address her ideas in my responses.
1. How much of this is automated? How are you going to balance computer aided versus human editors?
It would seem that the ideal implementation of the product/service is that it would be entirely automated. However, at first we might need to require that human editors become involved to help the application to become more intelligent.
2. What if reports conflict? The point is that actually eye witnesses don’t agree so are you going to include the disagreement? go with consensus? You might think about Wikipedia here, but also think about maybe not replicating Wikipedia.
The application would have to be able to provide a point/counterpoint model where, in Elisa’s example, maybe someone reported there was a delay on 635 due to an overturned vehicle, but there was another report saying that there was an eye witness account of the road being shut down due to construction. The application would be able to report something such as “traffic delays on 635 due to various causes – 5 reports of overturned vehicle, and 8 reports of road construction, etc.
3. What about audio/video/images, how do those figure in?
If you wanted more information regarding a story or report, you could tell the application. You would ask it, is there any supporting media for the report? It would report back there are 5 videos, one video with 258 views. Would you like to view the video now? In addition, if you were reporting the story or event you would always have the option of uploading, photos, videos, and audio files.
4. In some sense this is a storify on steroids.
Yes. All the news that is fit to be consumed, categorized and linked in one place.
5. What about for stories that aren’t space based. It would work well for geography based local stories, but maybe not so much for large ones. How would this scale?
We still think it would work for larger stories as well. It would work well for human interest stories or issue-based stories. People could also provide editorial views and information.
6. On the curating side there are a lot of decisions to be made, is this just an amped up version of the daily me?
The Daily Me part of the application is only one aspect of it. The real value of this application is that it allows you to interact with your environment and the people around you, whether they are in immediate proximity, in the next car, or in the surrounding geographical area.
I have two recent examples of how I could have benefited from having this app. Last week, I was driving home and the road into my subdivision was closed. I had to take a detour. It was close to a major highway and I couldn’t get close enough to figure out what happened. I was worried there was a chemical spill or something, concerned about my children at home. I kept thinking about Elisa’s example, and how great it would have been if I were able to check in verbally with people stuck in traffic or the people of my community to find out what happened. Nevertheless, I didn’t find out until a few hours later when my city’s mayor posted on my facebook timeline that there was an overturned truck. I had no reason to be concerned about my children’s safety.
Another great example was when we had tornados a few weeks ago around the time two of my children were to be released from school. The district ended up keeping the kids in school an hour after their normal release time in lockdown. Parents weren’t notified until 15 minutes after the normal release time and were waiting outside the school when the tornado sirens were going off. All the parents were putting themselves at risk because they didn’t know the status. They didn’t notify parents until twenty minutes after they released their children. They notified them by email. It was very inefficient and could have been potentially dangerous.
Our project focuses in two questions: how to make it easier to get impartial news and how to make it easier to report news. Our first
idea is an app that would “talk” to you and explain things. Think the iPhone’s Siri system, but take it up a notch. It’s Siri + holograms + wikipedia + storify + newspaper, all in one source, all in their best side. This is how it would work:
For reporting news:
If you want to report something, let’s say an accident, you would just say to the app “there is an accident on 635” and it would tell you if that has been reported already. This would help with the excess of repetition of news we see on twitter for example – but let’s remember that this device has no purpose of being Twitter, it is strictly for news. If it has been reported, the device will ask if you would like to add something else and after you talk it would only add what has not been reported about the accident – almost working as an editor. You can also use the device to report with film, photos, and it would use a location system to put together all the videos and pictures about the same subject under that subject.
For receiving news:
Let’s go back to that accident on 635: if you ask the device “what happened on this accident” it will find your location, explain what happened with the information it has so far and display the pictures and videos. The idea is also that the device would have a projector, so you would not have to get the device in your hand and look at it, it will project the images from it. You can also choose to project someone to give you the news, in case you do not feel comfortable speaking to the device.
Other things you could do with this device: ask for a summary of the news of the day, by location, theme or relevance. The device will always be impartial and give you both sides of every story. You can always ask questions and if the device does not have the answer, you can ask it to tweet/e-mail journalists or even politicians, and let you know when it has found the answer.
A few relevant questions were pointed out during discussions about this project, and here are the answers for them:
1. The purpose of this project is that it would be entirely automated. No human editors. Human opinions would be asked if needed, buy all of the information would be edited by the machine at first.
2. If reports conflict, the app will need proof of information with images so the app can define what is the truth. Let’s say that the app has enough images of a car accident to define exactly what happened, then it can. If the device cannot come to a conclusion (because of lack of enough images, or clear ones), the disagreement will be included in the report and it is up to the user of the device to decide on what is true based on facts exposed.
3. Since this app is focused on citizen journalism, it is mainly for stories that are space based. For stories that are not space based, the app would rely on many online news sources to bring the summary of news, but with the carefulness of bringing impartial points and if needed, sending out tweets/e-mails/questions to people who seem to understand the subjects more.
4. Photos and videos are not only separated by the app by subject, but they are also put together in order to create 180/360 degree views of the episode when possible.
5. It is not defined yet if this will be an app or a device. For the holograms part, we would definitely need a device, but we do not want to separate the device from a phone. So maybe it will be a version of a phone, still to be defined.
I am going to tell you what annoys me most on Twitter. What annoys me most on Twitter is that, everytime there is “breaking news” such as the purchase of Instagram by Facebook, or the new iPad, or whatever else, my timeline gets clogged with the same tweet by a lot of different people. No, not different information about that subject. Just a lot of the same headlines. It drives me crazy.
I understand why it happens though: being from a different country, I always feel the duty to break the news to my Brazilian friends before they read it somewhere else – I love starting the discussion. And I imagine it’s like that for everybody else. But the thing is, my timeline gets so clogged I lose other important tweets. So how do I fix that?
That is one of the problems we are going to try to tackle in our project: the repetition of news. What if you could see only tweets that said something different about that subject? What if, as soon as a subject starts trending, your Twitter timeline automatically created a tab for that and removed said tweets from your current timeline?
One of the other issues we are going to try to tackle is the lack of information you can rely on, quickly. Let’s take the KONY 2012 video. It was being spread like crazy, until a guy made a Tumblr criticizing it. But then a woman made a blog criticizing that Tumblr but also criticizing Kony. Meanwhile, no one in my timeline or my Facebook or my LIFE really knew what was going on in Africa regarding that matter, so everybody was really confused. But what if you had a device that gave you the views on things, historical facts, before you made any decisions to believe something online?
These are the two matters that for me are really important regarding online Journalism: repetition and truthfulness. Soon we will post more on our final project about the future of journalism.