Tagged: NYT

Hello, Finger Wave; Passwords be gone

Every time I go to a website to make a comment or buy something, it asks me for my username and password. After a couple failed tries, my instinct is to give up — though my desire to be obnoxious or to participate in consumerism ultimately vanquish and I persist until I break through. But, man, what a pain.

I was reading this New York Times article with interest: “Logging In With a Touch or a Phrase.”

Passwords are a pain to remember. What if a quick wiggle of five fingers on a screen could log you in instead? Or speaking a simple phrase? Neither idea is far-fetched. Computer scientists in Brooklyn are training their iPads to recognize their owners by the touch of their fingers as they make a caressing gesture. Banks are already using software that recognizes your voice, supplementing the standard PIN.

A couple years ago I conducted a bunch of interviews with regular Madison folk about their use of the Internet, particularly as that use pertained to information actions and community engagement. One of my side findings had to do with passwords. The number one reason these people — and these included often those like journalists and bloggers — did not participate in online forums or other digital spaces? PASSWORDS. They try once, maybe twice, but who can keep track of all of them?

If we could resolve the password issues, I suspect the amount of civic participation in online deliberative spaces would significantly increase.

And then I imagine what our coffeeshops would look like with all of us waving at our computers. We’d all be thinking: “Now, was it a five-finger motion that I recorded? Or something more jaunty?” Even this solution, I predict, would ultimately involve some choice gestures.

More News Video Innovation Please: A Carnival of Journalism Post

This month’s Carnival of Journalism asked people to pontificate on the future of online video.

When convergence first occurred, I was somewhat skeptical about how big a role video could play in newsrooms that have traditionally been print focused. I study newsrooms transitioning to the digital world and have watched as reporters and editors initially expressed enthusiasm at the possibilities innate in visual storytelling, only to succumb to the cumbersome recording challenges and even more onerous editing learning curve. Technical, cultural, financial, organizational, institutional — the obstacles to achieving online video in formerly print-based newsrooms are many. Though a news organization might make video cameras available to its staff, the staff received very little training in shooting technique. Reporters found the cameras difficult to juggle along with a recorder and notebook. They found themselves shy about speaking in front of a camera, or even doing voice-overs. But mostly, the cultural and organizational dynamics of the print newsroom — especially the emphasis on writing as the primary evaluation measure — prevented much video work from being done (at least by print reporters).

I do think the state of news video for (formerly?) print-focused newsrooms is changing rapidly. Shovelware is long behind us. More and more websites are experimenting with online video and beefing up their use of multimedia. Over the last year newsrooms have renewed their commitment to online video. Even the Wall Street Journal has vastly expanded its video offerings and platforms. iMovie and other video editing programs have made video editing much more user-friendly. Multimedia trainings for journalists abound and are well attended. Even the recently doom-and-gloom prognoses of Pew’s annual State of the Media report have been naming more video use among news organizations as a sign of exciting development in the industry for content features. New iPad apps for video news make watching more convenient. And the statistics prove that more people are willing to spend copious amounts of time watching video. It’s just not so many of them seem to be accessing news video all that much, except the young folks (though I haven’t been able to land on any specific statistics about news use, have you?).

Nonetheless so far I’m still disappointed about how little innovation is happening around video use on newspaper websites. Most news sites still don’t let me pop out the video to a corner of my screen so I can browse off the page while watching that video (unless I am missing that function? It’s not obvious if it is there). I’d like the ability to search for video news in the archives of newspaper websites (but unless I have the direct URL, I am typically out of luck). I’d like to see more documentary-length video as enterprise features on newspaper sites. I’d like to see more video used to corroborate stories, showing snippets of telling pieces of the interview, for example. I’d like to see more reader-produced video commentary attached to stories as part of the forums and comments or somehow integrated more significantly.

And, if I may be a bit obnoxious, someday:

  • I’d like the ability to zoom in on parts of most news video (without special software);
  • I’d like to be able to right-click and have the transcript of the script available to me (but that’s just because I like to content analyze for my job);
  • I’d like the ability to enable text captions on all my videos so I can secretly watch them during meetings without the sound on (without special software);
  • I’d like the ability to pause the video, scroll over faces or building or other things and have a screen pop up with information about the person.

The future of news video is wide open. New platforms are going to make video watching preferable in some ways to reading news. Consider the prototype the New York Times is developing for delivering its news on people’s mirrors. You’re not going to try to read a feature-length news piece while shaving or putting eyeliner on. You CAN watch and listen to a video while doing those tasks. I know some people never watch video and perhaps never will, but I wonder if that’s because we haven’t hit upon the right mix of products that will appeal to greater segments of the audiences for news.

It’s all in the details!

The recent coverage of the 911 anniversary was prolific to say the least, and some, I know, do not understand the media’s fascination with anniversaries. But I always love a good anniversary, and spent a good chunk of my Sunday, Sept. 11, glued to the television. I pulled out a couple pieces for my news producing students to take a gander at, and sent them out on our listserve. Thought I’d share here as well:

1) This Nation piece is important for journalism students to read because it really gets at something significant about humanity. It’s not just another memorial piece or article about the anniversary coverage. It delves deep into our feelings about suicide and death and honor. It delves into our societal values.

Do note the incredible details the report got here, as in this sentence: “Richard used to look at the postings and the photographs on the internet and sometimes wondered if Karen had jumped. She was very vain and particular about her face, he knew; she used plenty of wrinkle cream, and he always figured if conditions were that bad she would jump rather than face the fires.”

2) And also, check out the images here at the NYT of the memorial ceremony. Study the photographs. Note how they show emotion and perspective. Note how they focus on a specific subjects despite the mass crowds and chaos of the day.

If you are interested in following some of this, we have a twitter hashtag at #jprotrack.

Yahoo turmoil – again

I found the Yahoo ruckus interesting. The CEO was fired — just a couple years after she was hired to replace that last guy they let go — for the same reasons. Yahoo, it seems, is having some trouble coming up with a viable plan going forward. Still no plan, as far as I can tell. Poor Yahoo. Just a few years ago the company turned down $33 a share from Microsoft. Today it’s trading at around $13. Oopsie! Interestingly, the CEO had negotiated a deal with Microsoft to turn over its search business. I was curious about that — and here maybe people who know more about the specifics of this situation might weigh in — since I understand that search ad revenue accounts for about half of the total revenues online. Why give up that kind of lucrative stream?

(As a quick aside, I just loved her farewell email to people about the whole thing, stating in a no-nonsense way that she was fired over the phone. Refreshing. Rather than the typical “I’m leaving to spend more time with my family” line.”)