Reactions, takeaways and follow-ups from SXSW. The conversation around our Future of Context panel at SXSW could not have been better. The session was extraordinarily well-blogged and well-tweeted, and the discussion afterwards – on this site and elsewhere – has been wonderfully thought-provoking. In case you missed it, here’s a round-up: Capturing the session Full audio of the session is available in excellent quality on the SXSW site. You can read or download the full archive of #futureofcontext tweets for real-time reactio.
Gaming is a part of the new method of spreading information. As Jesse Schell (Prof. Carnie Mellon) points out at DICE 2010 , gaming is intrinsic to human nature, and it’s easy to see how it could be incorporated into everything that we do. That includes journalism utilizing gaming psychology in delivery. If we grant that we should be using Topics instead of stories as the atom of news, its easy to see how a gaming element can be introduced around how people follow topics. An example A person follows the Topic Barack Obama in 2005 to earn 5 po.
The posts from Matt and from Joey Baker remind me of a conversation on the 2008 campaign trail about which I’ve given much thought. During a long downtime, the AP phtographer assigned to the Obama “Whistle-Stop Tour” through Southern PA showed me all the photos he had taken. His editor had told him to get a shot of Obama standing on the bunting-draped caboose–classic Americana, of course. But the train tour was mobbed; good shots were difficult. The AP photographer managed only one caboose picture; however, it captured .
We’d all love it if more news websites simply started tagging their content. But when you think about it, tagging is a very primitive way of saying how things relate to each other. It says “this article has something to do with this concept or thing”. They don’t tell you exactly these things relate. They also don’t tell you whether the the thing the article relates to is a topic, a person, an organization, an event or a location. That’s okay for humans because we can guess, but computers can’t, and we.
Hey guys, first off, great panel today. It has my mind churning. I posted a longer set of thoughts on my blog, but I am going to post the main thoughts as follows since my goal here isn’t to steal Web traffic or move the discussion. What I want to talk about is gaming and news context, because it was the big takeaway I got from this discussion. My mind was already starting to turn as I came to SXSW thanks to my use of Foursquare, but after sitting in on a great panel about transmedia storytelling I was over the edge. Harris mentioned game.
We can all agree that the article is dead – what needs to take its place is Topics. Allow users to build a profile of the news they care about. In the same way we choose twitter followers we could choose news topics. These would be broadly specific, e.g. Haiti Earthquake, War in Iraq, March Madness etc… Each topic would remember the last time you logged in and quickly summarize the news since then. In addition, it would have a wikipedia-like entry (only through in a lot more graphics and interactivity) to summarize the entire event. Natura.
At the panel, Tristan Harris talked about the experience of visiting a museum with a friend at your elbow, explaining the backstory of each painting. Asa form of context-provision that’s pretty ideal. But what’s important about it is that this is your friend’s voice. Voice wasn’t really addressed by anyone at the panel. Matt asked, where does Wikipedia fall down? And this is one area: by design, it lacks personal voice. So much of contextual info is provided as footnotes, aftermatter, backstory. As such it lacks person.
Did you attend the Future of Context session at SXSW? Tell us your thoughts. What were your main takeaways? What could we have done better? What would you like to hear next as a follow-up conversation?
It’s a trick question, similar to this one: “If a synchronized swimmer drowns, will the others follow”? Let me explain. The answer is yes to both. Context comes before and after content. In this short post, I will argue that you need to have context prior to, and following your quest for content. First, you have to set the context for which content will be harvested. It’s like putting the train on the rails before it can go in a straight line. You need to define the thematic elements relating to the domain you are interested in. This .
Just to join the conversation — which I think is one of the most important in journalism today — here’s a post about context I wrote in October 2008: Like “truth,” “news” is a plural noun. I remember reading about an old press baron who insisted on asking editors, “Are there any news?” until finally one replied, “No, sir, not a single damned new.” The grammar doesn’t matter much, but it’s important to remember that news indeed is many things, not one. News is a river, flowing past us in the direction of time, const.