Interesting and motivating stuff

I’m involved in two days of an exciting Meld project and as part of that I am showing ( or may mention) a number of bits of technology and services. I needed a place to put the links to access them and thought I would share them here.

It’s all stuff that has made me go ‘wow’ and/or made me think ‘that would be great for journalists if…’. Of course there are lots of other things – the blog really helps collect and remember them – so if you have things that fall in to the ‘must see’ inspiration. I’d love to see them.


I love this stuff as it offers an interesting way for ugc to be contextualized and then inhabited. Nodes of content – photos – that each has their own story used to build up a bigger picture. The very definition of the way CJ should work .

A couple of links here to the original Photo tourism applet and then the Photosynth version in a similar vein. Also a neat demo of the Seadragon technology

and the TED presentation by Blaise Aguera y Arcas around Photosynth.

360 video

I love the Google street view stuff and this builds on the concept. Immersive media have a very impressive looking bit of hardware (although low-fi versions are around) and a few examples that, perhaps, hint at the uses a journalist may find in interacting with this stuff if not generating it themselves. (look about 2mins in)

News/editorial games

The Political machineOkay, breakout with news headlines may make MSNBC’s claim to have invented a whole “newly invented genre of ‘news gaming'” a bit hard to swallow. But it is good fun.

Games have started to seep in to journalism consciousness. A version of the Neverwinter nights has been used to train journalists and the games ideas that sprang from that project

But it isn’t all just retro-gaming or journalism training. Editorial/issue games are more and more visible.

Whether it’s highly polished stuff like The Political Machine or influenced by single issues that resonate like Police brutality, September 12th or the raft of issue games from Persuasive Games.

There are loads of serious games out there covering the kind of stories and issues that journalists are. This is where I really think we need to be exploring much more.

Wii news channel

Speaking of games. I know there are other consoles out there but I just got a Nintendo wii. The news channel is pretty straightforward in what it does (streams AP content) but the way it does it is pretty cool. Putting journalism in an environment (like throwing the digital newspaper on the gaming lawn) seems to me an area that is being neglected in the msm’s attempts to ‘own the platforms’.

And the old wii, like the iphone and PSP, is getting platform friendly content.

Digital narratives

The Work of Jonathan Harris

Interactivity and multimedia are part of the reason why the web has become so popular as a journalism platform. Seminal work like OnBeing and The Final Salute show just how good journalists are at telling stories and giving stories a voice. Of course other storytellers have embraced the platform. The work of Jonathan Harris is a particular favorite of mine. Lots to learn and learn from in all areas.


Time Tube

Journalism is getting in on the act with visulaisation whether its infographics with an extra edge or projects using Google maps, tag clouds or something fancy like the Spectra Visual Newsreader app (Kudos to MSNBC for getting another mention).

General shots of stuff.

Meld: The Aftermath

The departments meld event has finished and we are pretty pleased with the way it went. There will be some discussion about what we would do differently and we hope everyone involved with continue to be part of that discussion.

Paul Egglestone

The man who made it happen – Paul Egglestone

The ‘Dragons’

The Dragons – Chris Green (Johnston Press),  Mark Payton (Haymarket Media)and Simon Bucks (Sky News)

Simon and his pure video recorder

Is this a sneak peek at sky’s new handheld digibox?  No, it’s Simon Bucks going all P&S with his Pure Flip Video 

Meld Online

Meld is on day 3 and the delegates have been working hard on their pitches. Matt Marsh spent the day with them refining personnas. Hard work but there are some great results.

I’ve been milling around with a various cameras capturing bits and pieces. You can see more on the Meld blog.

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="450" height="271" wmode="transparent" /]

Meld: Briefs online

Meld Logo

Meld is a project run by the Department of Journalism and Sandbox to get journalists and technologists to work together to come up with new ways to tell stories.

You could be a journalists and have always said. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could do this…”, but put the idea away because it needed some whizz-kid technologist to make it happen. Or you could be the whizz-kid with the great technology looking for the right story to tell.

The Meld project aims to bring you together in a unique 5 day residential melding lab. Over the five days you’ll get all the help and support you need (plus accommodation for the week and £500) to put together a pitch for your idea.

At the end of the week you’ll get chance to pitch that idea to our industry dragons. Sky, Johnston Press and Haymarket Media are all interested in what you come up with. If they like it then they can make you an offer.

We have added briefs from our Dragons to give you some idea of the areas they are interested in.

If you think you have an idea that Meld can help you develop then register on the site and start a conversation with us. You never know.

So, ignore the possible pants reference in the title and get yourself over

The appropriate eye.

It’s a common bit of advice round many offices (and the halls of academe are no different) that you should always have a bit of paper in your hand to make you look busy. And it seems to be increasingly true that many people feel that you have to have a high-quality, often large, camera in your hand to make you look like a video journalist.

That doesn’t just extend to our own personal confidence. A newspaper VJ I know recently reflected on the time he wasn’t allowed through a security cordon with his little Panasonic camera, despite having a press pass, but the local TV crew just walked straight in.

Looking the part is often as important to some as actually doing your job.

‘Now, Andy’, I hear you say, ‘don’t kick up this whole quality kit debate again’. And I promise I won’t, at least not yet. The reason I’m raising it is that it the whole idea of how journalists are perceived and how the technology changes that , especially when you shoot video, took a different direction for me this week.

The right tools
That thought process was started as I caught up with my feed reading and came across a bit of cross posting by Mindy McAdams and Angela Grant questioning why some talking head video interviews are so dull.

I commented on a couple of my own theories why and a possible solution that involved shooting two interviews. One to get the story straight and one to get the interview to tell the story. Mindy responded:

Some people have suggested that you should do the complete interview the way you would for print — with your pen and notepad in hand — and only afterward, turn on the camera. Only then will you know the right questions to ask for the video.

Reflecting on that I thought, why bother with pen and paper. Shoot the video – tape is cheap – and you have more footage to play with. But I also have to admit that a pencil is less daunting for the interviewee than a video camera.

(added later: Just to clarify, in the light of some comments, that I was thinking about that in the context of gathering content for an interview that was usable in the editing process. I wasn’t dismissing pen and paper or note taking as useless in the face of video. Although I appreciate it can be read that way. I suppose I should have said why not pen and paper and video as well.)


This got me thinking about a conversation I after the official ceremonies at the Manchester Meld event . I was talking to one man video whirlwind David Dunkley Gyimah and Fee Plumley , director of the phone book ltd, who has been experimenting with content for mobile phones since 2000 including their latest looking for ‘Portable Electronic News Gatherers’ (or ‘PENG’) – nice phrase.

We where chatting about the role mobile phones and mobile content had to play in the growth of video online. In particular we kicked around the idea that the next generation of phones will have such good multimedia that they become an instinctive choice for filmmakers and journalists. If that sounds like a simple proposition, just try kicking that one round a room of journos, technologists and photographers and see how long you sit there.

One of the many points that came out that gave me food for thought was that idea of the level of permission a camera or microphone gives you as a journalist. And it reminded me that the technology creates a fine balancing act for journalists.

Opening doors
Sometimes the technology opens the door, like the TV crew, and other times, like an interview, it closes it. When choosing technology we should be thinking about the door we want to open as much as the way we are perceived.

Consider the stories, in the aftermath of the shooting of Rhys Jones, about the about the way Liverpool Gangs are using youtube to flaunt guns and crime.

Okay, so it’s an extreme example. But there are many environments where even a cheap camcorder would single you out and change the way people react to you. But a mobile phone is an acceptable piece of technology in many communities. You have permission to get a mobile phone out to film.

It’s an appropriate technology for that environment.

I’m not saying this to promote the use of mobile over other kit. A mobile phone won’t get you through a press cordon. But it may be invisible enough to get you the video you need to tell the story and that’s what it’s all about.