Google chief executive Eric Schmidt on where journalism is heading
When Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt sat down on Thursday evening at the MIT in Boston, one topic that came up in the discussion with the audience was the future of news. As was reported by several journalists, Schmidt appeared to have a lot sympathy for newspapers and magazines and, well, interest. This might be no surprise, since delivering the news in the future seems to be an issue that Google is brainstorming about.
Their interest in news grew from a nice small idea that Krishna Bharat had about story ranking in 2001 to something which obviously keeps its CEO busy as it became a part of their future business. Indeed, Schmidt talked of “about 10 news stream ideas” they have for the future of news. What could they be?
To answer that, we need to understand fundamentally how Google addresses the issue, which is very much in a technology-driven way. As Schmidt joked at the Gartner Symposium, that in order to study the consumption of information in the future, you should find an early technology adopter, hence a teenager in your house, or borrow one, if you don’t have one. So how can news be consumed in the future? The points Schmidt comes up with are convincing, although not totally new.
Always online: “…the reading will presumably be online not offline, just because of the scale of it.”
Mobile: “The Kindle is a proto of what this thing could look like. People will carry these things around.”
On a smallish display: “…probably on a tablet or a mobile phone”
Personalised: “It’ll be highly personalised, right? So you’ll know who the person is.”
Semantic: “capable of deeper navigation into a subject”
Cross-financed: “It’ll be advertising-supported and subscription-supported, so you’ll probably have a mixture.”
While we have heard of most of these ideas, there are two aspects which seemed to be new and less decrepit: integrated storytelling and differentiated news display.
“There’ll be a lot of integration of media – so video, voice, what have you,” said Schmidt rather briefly, but indeed, integrated storytelling might be the next step after the convergence of television, radio and newspapers. Since the way we told a news story has changed in the past, it is quite certain that it will change in the future as well.
While now we display text, video and audio next to each other there might be a future where the stories are told in a new medium that emerges out of a deep convergence of these three. Indeed, the development of integrated formats might change journalism fundamentally in terms of how to set out the line of a story, what to begin with and where to end, or how to provide additional information. The ways video games structure stories might give us a slight hint what could lay in front of us.
“…show me the differential. Since you know what you told me yesterday, just tell me what changed today. Don’t repeat everything.” What Schmidt is talking about here is a rather useful feature in a world of information overload. Indeed, every news site should have a button to mark articles as read or seen. Think of something like the “I like” button on Facebook, which would send an article to be stored in your personal archive.
In addition, the unsatisfied experience you make today when reading a news website could vanish by this feature. A list of looked at articles gives you a feeling that you have actually done something while now the only feeling that is left after scanning a website is that there is soo much more which you missed.
Of course, a flipped-through magazine or newspapers already gives you that satiesfied “been there, seen that” feeling today. Sometimes the future lies in the past.
Me quedo con un par de ideas:
– “Integrated storytelling”.
– La posibilidad de marcar historias como leídas o vistas. Shade out?