Emerging media’s brave new world

Hello. Welcome to my blog whose title comes from a quote by Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Over the course of the next ten weeks I’ll be posting entries related to emerging media platforms for a class I am taking through Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. During the class–appropriately titled Emerging Media Platforms–we’ll be exploring a variety of new mediums that are revolutionizing the communications field, especially journalism. Sensors, drones, automated voice assistants, chatbots, wearables, 360-degree video, virtual reality and augmented reality are just some of the exciting technologies that are changing the way we interact, display and engage with digital content–and most importantly–with each other.

For many, these technologies spell a future that is indistinguishable from magic, whereby digital and analog environments converge seamlessly to heighten our sensory and intellectual understanding. Journalists are currently using these media platforms to collect visuals and data in transformative ways that go beyond the traditional website’s above-the-fold display paradigm adapted from newspapers; technologies such as virtual reality allow us to be transported into the fold. The New York Times’ VR division is just one example of the amazing innovation that is occurring within the field of journalism. With sufficiently advanced hardware–which sometimes looks deceptively simple if considering Google Cardboard‘s interface–the sky truly isn’t the limit when considering the endless stories that can be told through virtual reality.

Taking stock of the recent Christmas holiday I spent with my family, these media technologies are converging in interesting ways. Consider my 11-year old nephew who was gifted a compact drone that takes HD video and wirelessly shares it with his iPhone via a proprietary app that can be viewed through a simple VR headset. This setup seems de rigueur for his middle school sensibilities. Whilst some people scoff at, or discount, technologies such as drones and VR as passing fads, they need only witness my nephew and his peers experimenting and creating with these media platforms. If Spielberg used his family’s Super 8 camera to film backyard war stories as a kid, my nephew’s generation of future Hollywood directors is using a drone to record warp speed, white-knuckle chase sequences through the neighborhood. Just don’t tell the FAA. It’s a brave new world, indeed.

Thanks for tagging along as I learn more about these platforms and share ideas and experiences from the course.