Orihuela: “m2m allows evolving from responsive design to responsive content” (I)
Wednesday, 11 December 2013
m2m technology is permeating into an ever-growing number of spheres and is beginning to influence communications and the media. That is why we have spoken to professor, speaker and writer José Luis Orihuela.
A great preacher of the new technologies, Orihuela has been particularly focused on investigating the impact of the Internet on the media, business and education. In the first part of a long interview, he analyses how the Internet of Things applies to both communications and journalism, giving rise to new areas such as “sensor journalism” and “drone journalism”.
Little by little m2m technology is being incorporated to daily objects that - connected to tablets and smartphones- allow delivering personalised information and services. Do you think this will change the ways in which information and the media are used? How?
From the standpoint of the use of information and the media, machine-to-machine communications will gradually tune up the user’s devices (smartphones, tablets and/or technological clothes/accessories) with information servers, evolving from responsive design to content adapted to both the device (device-aware) and the user’s consumption pattern (user-aware).
The proliferation of sensors in the user’s portable devices will lead to increased self-tracking of people’s vital patterns that, besides being stored in the cloud like a detailed biographic logbook, will enable information servers to generate personalised recommendations and predictions.
Could you give some examples of initiatives that may have called your attention in this regard?
An open-code development that I’ve found very interesting is The Funf Open Sensing Framework by Behavio, whose authors have been hired by Google. At a social level, we should highlight the convergence between sensors and crowdsourcing, for example, to monitor the quality of air (Air Quality Egg) or water (dontflushme) or the migration of cicadas (WNYC’s Cicada Tracker) - a project developed by Radiolab of the New York Public Radio (who are very active in data journalism, as shown in Data News).
Sensor Journalism -fostered by projects such as Beijing Air Tracks by the Spatial Information Design Lab of the Columbia University together with the agency Associated Press, aimed at measuring the quality of air in Beijing during the 2008 Olympic Games- is now being investigated and taught in the university classrooms. Other examples include Sensoring Journalism from the College of Journalism and Mass Communications of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Sensor Journalism Workshop at The Tow Center of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
m2m technology has emerged as an opportunity to improve processes. Do you think that it could also have an impact on the media and the modes of communication?
Two specific areas in which m2m technology has contributed to improve processes in the media are telemetry (used for information coverage and user applications in Formula 1 and MotoGP competitions) and the remote control of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones).
Drone Journalism was premiered by the BBC in October when a Hexacopter was used for the first time to depict the potential layout of the high-speed train in the United Kingdom. In November the CNN used a drone to cover the devastation caused by Typhon Haiyan in the Philippines.
This specialty has also reached the academia through the Drone Journalism Lab of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and The Missouri Drone Journalism Program of the Missouri School of Journalism. The Professional Society of Drone Journalists has also been in place since 2011.
Regardless of the fact that this is an issue within the sphere of scientific and technological journalism, do you think that m2m could also influence journalism at large?
The big challenge for journalism (as evidenced by Wikileaks and by all Open Data initiatives) is to decide what to do with the enormous amount of data available, how to treat them and how to present them in a useful and educational manner to the public. Data Journalism is the response given by the journalistic profession and the media to the Big Data avalanche.
Experiences such as those of The Guardian with Data Store and La Nación with Nación Data, as well as the predictive analyses of Nate Silver with FiveThirtyEight (first in The New York Times and now on ESPN) are paving the way for many other initiatives. A good example is found in the collaborative project The Data Journalism Handbook and the Data Journalism Awards by the Global Editors’ Network.
What kind of training should journalists and communications professionals receive to speak about and handle m2m technology?
On the one hand, developers should be incorporated to the editorial staff and journalistic projects and, on the other, Communications students should be trained to improve their skills in IT programming and the analysis and visualisation of large volumes of data.