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Future of News Delivery

Stories that are personalized, interactive and multimedia.

By Linda Rosencrance
March 8, 2004 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - In the 2002 movie Minority Report, a passenger on a subway train gets constantly updated news on a flexible, translucent, portable flat-panel device that he carries with him.
Although the movie takes place in the year 2054, this vision of the future of news delivery may be closer than we think, says Rich Gordon, a journalism professor at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.
"The buzzword for the future, no matter what platform, is interactive multimedia, which both represents user control as well as the multiple forms of media incorporated into a single format," Gordon says.
"I think, inevitably, portable devices are going to have a very different format for storytelling than [via] the Web," he adds.
Small devices such as cell phones and PDAs today display mostly text. But, Gordon says, "we're already seeing a number of the portable platforms developing the capability to take video and Flash stories, and I can envision somebody riding the subway and viewing a video or animation-based story on their PDA." Gordon envisions a handheld device that will display a familiar-looking replica of the print edition of a newspaper or magazine but will be clickable and interactive and incorporate multimedia and video.
"So imagine a Sports Illustrated, when you're reading it on your Tablet PC, and you click on the still photo of a close play at the plate, and you'll see the video of the close play . . . and see it actually unfold in front of you," he says.
Total Immersion
New forms of IT and integrated media systems will revolutionize the methods for acquiring, packaging, organizing and delivering the news in the not-too-distant future, says computer science professor Dennis McLeod. McLeod is working on the User-Directed News project at the Integrated Media Systems Center in the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication in Los Angeles.
The UDN project is exploring customized, interactive, multimedia, "immersive" news experiences in which people will, in three to five years, experience news events and stories rather than just read about them, he says.
"Say there's a big protest march by the federal building," McLeod says, "and it happened yesterday, and we have a story package that basically allows the user to go in, look around in different directions and choose what aspects of the event he is most interested in viewing." When delivered via a head-mounted display, this approach allows users to get a sense that they are actually immersed within an ongoing event, and it puts control of the news in the hands of the user, McLeod says.
Immersive news integrates



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