I came across an interesting post on PaidContent.org, “What would the perfect news application designed for Google Glass look like?” that got me to thinking more seriously about Google’s new project currently in beta, a pair of glasses that would connect you to the Internet and use augmented reality to overlay information on top of what you see through the glasses.
Some of the suggestions in the PaidContent article aren’t new — urging media organizations to offer not just news, but useful information, has been a mantra for some companies ever since the dawn of the Internet age, although few companies have actually accomplished this balance.
But I thought these bullet points were worth pondering (You should go to the original piece to read them in their entirety; these are my comments about the bullet points)
- Short excerpts
- Real-time updates
- Designed for voice and touch
- Location aware
- Prescriptive data
Anyone who is familiar with digital-era communications understand that short and sweet — 165 characters for text messages, 140 for tweets, scan-able chunks on home pages that explain the essence of a story — is the standard. If someone’s interested in the full monty, they’ll click on through to read it.
Twitter and other social media have killed the sad irony of newspapers (“Old news delivered every morning!” “Today’s news tomorrow!”) once and for all. If you don’t cover the news as it happens, you’re not covering the news. Sure, you have to be accurate while you’re rushing out the alert, and that’s a pain in our hurry-hurry reality. But that’s why you’re a journalist.
The future is mobile, and it’s already here. If you don’t have a version of your news product optimized for smartphones and tablets (meaning you need a touch-screen navigational scheme, and content produced specifically for those formats — no more “shovel=ware of content from one format to the other), you’re not meeting your audience’s needs today. For the future, products such as Google Glasses will be more and more voice-controlled. I already know plenty of people who rely on Siri on their iPhones more than I thought they would. Touch and voice — the future is already here. I know some journalists have finally come to accept websites as their digital-first avenue for media, but guess what — websites are already passe, and though they may stick around longer than dead-tree newspapers, they won’t be the default pipeline for news for much longer.
Anyone who uses their smartphone a lot has probably already come to rely on its GPS-enabled location-aware features. Click an app to find the Greek restaurant closest to your current location, or a supermarket, or a movie theater. Launch an weather app and it’ll automatically show the temperature and forecast for wherever you happen to be, whether it’s Boulder or Los Angeles. Marketers are busy dreaming up new and cooler ways to have special deals pop up on your phone as you approach a store or restaurant. Our devices will all be location-aware, to give us the news and information that’s most relevant to where we are.
This one’s tricky for old-school journalists to get our heads around. This term is used for a feature that displays a whole bunch of information together, from your calendar agenda for the day and latest headlines to emails, social media updates and more. If you have a Windows 8 computer or device, you already see a version in the icon-filled launch screen. Google also has a feature called Google Now that is a harbinger of the prescriptive data possibilities to come.
I know this is a lot of crazy stuff to consider while we’re busy reporting the news, but I swear, it’ll be helpful to know what’s on the horizon, and it may even help you get and keep better jobs in the future.
After all, the future is now. It’s already here.