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NewsThings: Exploring Journalism and the Internet of Things

October 12, 2018
John Mills

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Authors: John Mills, Mark Lochrie, Tom Metcalfe, Alison Gow, Paul Gallagher
Abstract: NewsThings asks what could an Internet of Journalism Things be and how could journalism lead the development of new IoT technologies and experiences?

Combining a wide range of skills, the project was a ‘pathfinder’ initiative to discover the potential for connected objects and journalism. A collaboration between publisher Reach, the Media Innovation Studio at the University of Central Lancashire and design and innovation studio Thomas Buchanan, and funded by the Google Digital News Initiative, NewsThings explored how journalism could develop new ‘connected’ products and experiences. Through creating new ‘things’ that played, showed, captured or demonstrated journalism, it sought to break new ground in how news objects could be inspired, built and tested.

Running for 16 months between March 2017 and August 2018, the project prioritised people in the innovation process. It placed users at the centre of its innovation work, and, before doing any ideation or product development, sought to understand audience requirements. As will be outlined in the report, the partners worked together to deconstruct news consumption to understand how users consumed news and information in its broadest possible sense throughout each day. NewsThings challenged users. It asked them to reflect on news, journalism and what it meant to them. In using methods such as cultural probes (see chapter 4), audiences were proactively engaged in shaping the data and objects that the team created.

This report will outline the products we created: ConeThing, RadioThing and PrinterThing, how they sought to meet user requirements and industry concerns, and how we combined new IoT tech - such as text-to-speech and sentiment analysis, in products and services that were of genuine value and relevance for the communities they were designed to serve.

Publication date: 31/08/2018