Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Shortlist for project topics!

Below are the topics you can choose to form project groups around. There are 20 topics in the list below and 47 students taking the course (excluding the executive group). I expect 10 or 11 groups to come out of this process (with 4 or 5 members in each group). Go here to specify what your 1st, 2nd and 3rd hand choice for project topics is!

DO NOTE: The deadline for specifying your preferences is Thursday night. I will work on putting the project groups together on Friday and you will get to know the results at seminar 4 (Monday Oct 14 after lunch). If you do not specify you preference, I will assume that you are equally interested in all topics and you might end up wherever!

DO NOTE: It is possible to form two project groups around the same topic if there is overwhelming interest in a specific topic. These two groups would initially have to work together to carve out two different and separate directions in which to take your respective projects. It's ok to overlap - but not too much!

I wrote a relatively long blog post about the Future of Media group formation process on my personal academic blog last year; "How should student project groups be put together?". Scroll to the last part of the blog post if you just want the basic facts. Read the whole text if you also want to know the reasons for not allowing students to freely choose who to work with. By all means also have a look at a second blog post I wrote last year about students' ambition, grades and the work load in the course; "Student project groups - ambitions and grades". 

Do also note that the topics below are only to be seen as starting points - the project groups can develop, change and bend the descriptions below in any direction you think is interesting as well as pick up aspects of topics that were left behind during the two brainstorming seminars.


1. Citizen journalism & crowdsourcing news
What is the future of citizen journalism? How could we all make it work? What would the advantages/disadvantages/implications be?

2. Individualized news
We will have 100% customized and individualized news in the future! How will this come about? What will the implications be (for technology, for behavior, for society, for democracy)?

3. Interactive visualization of news
Mash-ups of news events, maps, comments, discussions and video - what will the “whole package” look like in the future?

4. The medium is the message
How does the news medium shape the news? How does technology reshape that reshaping? What news “fit” newspapers, radio, TV and evolving digital channels? (example: an event is not “good news” on TV unless there are moving images capturing the event.)

5. News and background knowledge
How can the most recent events be combined with the offer to know more about the background of a news event? How can the very latest events (news) be combined with deep knowledge of underlying forces (history) through new technologies?

6. The future of censorship
Many countries suffer from censorship. Will recent and future technological developments help or undermine censorship? China, but also the US (Manning, Snowdon) comes to mind as well as Wikileaks etc.

7. The future of digital paper
Is there a future in-between paper and screens? What does that future look like?

8. News habits of the future
Examine present (“advanced”?) news habits (perhaps of a specialized group) and extrapolate to the future. What at the news habits of the future? How do new technologies enable new behaviors and habits?

9. News aggregators
Are news aggregators, rather than publishing houses the future of news? Will Google, Buzzfeed and Reddit choose news for you rather than DN, Aftonbladet and SvD?

10. Manipulation and bias online and offline
It can be argued that beyond pure censorship, media (newspaper, radio, tv) always “manipulate” the news in different ways when choosing, preparing and producing them. This can perhaps be avoided on the internet by combining multiple sources about the same event. Or do new technologies allow for ever-more-devious manipulation and bias online than what was ever possible offline? But filtering can on the other hand also be seen as a service (performed by software or an experienced editor). See further the concept of “filter bubbles”.

11. News-by-algorithms
Will algorithms replace editors? Can algorithms (perfectly?) match your personal preferences with news content? What would the implications for news be if Amazon produced your newspaper (“people who read… also read…”)? Nicklas Lundblad mentioned “Knowledge taste networks”. What are they? How will they work?

12. Filter bubbles and serendipity engines
Information overload (a bad signal-to-noise ratio) -> filtering -> bias, “filter bubbles” -> serendipity engines. Is this a picture of the future? Is something missing? Are the implications for the most part positive or negative? What will come next? What are the implications for news (and for democracy, for media’s “watchdog” function etc.)?

13. Räntekartan+
Ola and Olle from SvD talked about databases + powerful journalism + political power/reach (“data journalism” is the name of an ongoing research project at Södertörn University). Räntekartan (“The interest rate map”) was inexpensive to set up and had many beneficial effects for SvD. So, what comes after Räntekartan, Hyreskollen etc.? What’s the next project? Envision it and make it come true (conceptually)! Will “data journalism” be followed by “big data journalism”?

14. News and geography
Kristiansen/Schibsted preached that geography matters online in a variety of ways. Blocket is local, you buy stuff locally so advertising is always local too. What is the future of nearness and geography in an Internet-world without borders? What news are global, what news will be local and what does the interface between them look like? What is the role of geography of the future of news?

15. The future of ads
Kristiansen/Schibsted talked about intermediaries and the increasingly complex ways that publishing houses, media agencies and advertisers “meet” today. What is the future of ads (in a post-cookie world?)? Will ads be voluntary and what would the implications then be for newspapers and/or news?

16. The second screen
Kristiansen/Schibsted talked about the second screen, the screen you have on the side when most of your attention is focused on the first screen (the TV for instance). What is the future of the second screen in the future of news? 

17. Death of reading
Aftonbladet does a lot of TV production online nowadays. Is this part of a trend where text is substituted by graphics, images, audio and video? What will news look like after we stop reading them? What happens to concentration, patience and reflection as well as ability to accept and think about new ideas and impressions? How will it affect the quality of news? What is the connection between reading and (quality) news?

18. The future of broadcast news/The future of public service
What is the future of broadcast news? How will TV and/or radio news evolve in the future? Will everything migrate online or will we still have analog broadcast? How will broadcast news adapt and what will it look like? This topic could also be connected to the future of public service (e.g. for example Swedish Radio, Swedish Television, BBC, National Public Radio etc.). 

19. The future of audio
A lot of emphasis is placed on text on paper or screens or on moving images, but what about pure audio in the form of radio or podcasts? What is the future of the human voice and intimate storytelling that is delivered right into your ears (perhaps while you jog, or do the dishes, or take the bus)? Does radio/audio have a "news future" and if so, what does it look like?

20. Smart home news network
With AI in the home, news selection and consumption could be customized. Develop a vision and a scenario for the Smart home news network (or something). How could The Future of News be married to AI in the home environment, what would the outcome be? 

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