The year 2020 is just a couple of years away, and technologies are aligning for a perfect storm that could either make or break established media houses.
Live video, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, and Augmented Reality have all been buzzwords of the "next big thing." As standalone products, none of these have been the silver bullet. But at the intersection of all these technologies, new storytelling formats and platforms are emerging that will fundamentally shift the way we publish.
I'm on the tail end of a 25-country tour across newsrooms and tech companies over just three months. I've seen a media pivoting to video and continuing to foster "mobile first" strategies. Both of these are important today. But we may be preparing for a future that won't exist tomorrow, because the world's tech giants are already planning for a post-mobile, AI-first, AR-driven world.
Five major technologies are already either being tested or are now fully implemented that you need to be acting on:
4K: We see Apple TV already offering 4K live-streaming, and 8K may be around the corner. Yet broadcasters are still transitioning from standard to high-definition transmissions.
5G: From California to parts of China, 5G cellular data speeds are already being tested. And 5G means the "Internet of Things" dream may finally be realised -- where everything is connected to the network in real-time.
AI: Google representatives keep talking about AI and interacting with technology using just your voice. For the newsroom, this means every task that can be automated in the newsroom will be automated. We're already seeing basic business and sports reports compiled by algorithmic aggregation of the right data. And we're already experimenting with automated video editing.
AR: Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, recently announced he believes we will be wearing AR glasses within the next few years. Sure, Google Glass wasn't a consumer hit, and my husband feels like the only person who still dons the wearable camera Snapchat Spectacles. But there's almost certainly a future where we do wear screens and cameras, and our access point to technology is AR. And, if you haven't seen it, check out Facebook Spaces as an example of where live video, VR, and social media all come together.
Blockchain: Perhaps the biggest disruption of them all is going to be the possible new backend of the Internet being developed: the blockchain. Everywhere, in every industry, all over the world, from banking to education and governance, decentralisation is dominating change today. Bitcoin is just the poster child of a new Internet world order. From fact checking and verification to peer-to-peer payments and diverse revenue streams, nowhere will the "distributed ledger" have a greater impact than on journalism.
History has always given us building blocks in preparation for the future. None of the above have been a golden goose that fundamentally moved the media forward. But together they usher in a new world order of digital media.
At first, many technologies and platforms won't seem ideally suited to journalism. But remember that every new social media platform to come about often finds its first commercial application in the news space. Snapchat has the Discover section of publishers and Facebook is experimenting with the Watch tab. YouTube has a walled garden of YouTube Red for Premium content.
So, any new product can either be seen as an opportunity or a threat -- an opportunity to find new markets, revenue, audiences, and ways of telling stories, using new and creative technologies, or a threat to your existing business.
• This article was originally prepared for INMA.org
Sumaiya Omar is founder at HashtagOurStories in London, UK. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @snap_sumaiya.
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