Monday, February 13, 2012

Novelty media tools for communicators discussed in Davos

Novelty media tools for communicators were presented and discussed in Davos, Switzerland on 10 February during a panel on media communications at the Communications on Top forum. The three presentations on social media, semantic Web, and visualization were done by Jochen Spangenberg, media manager, Nikos Sarris, R&D project manager, and David Lee, startup manager, respectively.

Everybody nowadays seems to be a good expert on media and where the sector is going. In his book called The Dilbert Future the famous comic strip creator Scott Adams, a techie, was quite accurate in describing the present state of media some fifteen years ago, back in 1997.

Remember that golden blogs-free age of corporate email and the luxury of having a company GSM phone? His prediction #52 - and there were 65 of them in the book - went: "In the future , everyone will be a news reporter." That must have made many a reader laugh out loud back then. Adams's prediction #50 stated: "in the future, more people will actively ignore the news because it is irrelevant." Funny no more.

What are the current trends then? Three of the seven trends (15 in all) mentioned at the forum by Rohit Bhagarva fit in very well into the media tools area: #2 Ethnomimicry – Real life inspires products & tools, #6 Co-curation – Curation ads value to the Web, #13 Tagging reality – Everyday images unlock digital content.

This future is here to stay, and we communicators need to understand how the media is reacting to the fact these two predictions have become true and what, if any, are the technological challenges and solutions in the pipeline.

Speaking of the social media usage by the media and individual journalists. The former increasingly use the social media for distribution while the latter – for data collection and feedback. Look at how often news organizations like AP and Reuters update their social media guidelines. This is a good indication of trial and error approach by the media.

Let's consider, the media try and try again, and eventually fail. Now imagine a Web - the World - without the media. Just the press releases, blogs, and user-generated content. What would you read for news? Would you search for the news by combination of keywords? Would you take the results of such search for granted and share them?

Taking your imagination to such extremes is useful if you need to be reminded that communications without the media are doomed.

Now, to the semantic Web. SYNC3 is a Pan-European project co-financed by the EC aimed at creating an sentiment analyzer for blog posts related to news stories. The project features a wide range of universally and well known brands, including Google. The big question here is whether the synergy is worth the co-financing. Let's hope, it is the case.

Text visualization could come in quite handy for us, PR folks. Just imagine, there is a multimedia repository on your corporate website with due keywords and tagging. A journalist writes a story on your company and the visualization tool – Bingo! - helps her to tie in all the proper illustrations, including photos, videos, infographics, and even cartoons to the story. The same tool could be used to illustrate PR releases, using third party multimedia.

Scot Adams's prediction #64 said: "The next 100 years will be a search for better perception instead of better vision." Some 15 years on, it seems we're well on our way there. For the novelties discussed will definitely make us better understand the communication ways and results, not just see them.

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