Text by Kendresa Cockrell, Photos by Christopher Mathews, Storify by Anna Brugman.
The “New Models, New Tools, New Innovations” drove home its point of “bridging the gap between space and time” as described by Mark Poepsel, moderator and assistant professor of Journalism at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. The session was a showcase of the next wave of useful technology for journalists from verifying information going viral on the internet to providing immersive storytelling tools. Takis Metaxas, a computer science professor at Wellesley College, presented an analysis tool called Twitter Trails which tracks down tweets to verify stories. The website can return information on the origin of the story, who’s talking about the story and in what way. Metaxas centered his research on the tool around an analysis of more than 200 stories he fed through the website.
Twitter Trails returns who first tweeted the story or photo that started a conversation. Users can then analyze the story in context with graphs showing levels of skepticism and belief in reactions. By identifying which accounts are verified, the tool can return viewpoints around the story and a media organization’s involvement in its progression.
Finally, based on skepticism levels from users, the team behind Twitter Trails will manually verify the authenticity of a story “based on news sources and websites like Snopes.”
Poepsel reported to the group the average run time is about 3 minutes.
Next, Associate Professor at the University of Missouri Department of Architectural Studies Bimal Balakrishnan followed up with his research on the applicability of 3D technologies. Balakrishnan works with Clyde Bentley, associate professor at the University of Missouri Journalism School, to catalog the usability and applications of various 3D technologies already available on the market. Bentley tested these tools by taking them into the field with a team of journalists to shoot and recreate science and nature scenes. Through their research they created a database of technology reviews spanning from 3D cameras primarily for entertainment to immersive virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift. Balakrishnan tests out the tools by using them to create a 3D version of the University of Missouri’s Textile and Apparel Management’s Historic Costume and Textile Exhibit. It requires an intense amount of detail to capture, which is the perfect way to test these 3D technologies. Ultimately, one of the main goals is find an acceptable balance between cost and quality. Balakrishnan and Poepsel brought up the limitations of 3D technology which can be “too real can be unreal.” 3D technologies don’t pick up on detail the way human senses do, which means lost information has to be filled in. Journalists using the technology have to balance fact and speculation in creating these virtual realities.
Poepsel pointed out consumers can reject a story despite its authenticity if it violates their natural sense of reality.
The panel transitioned to content producer Sarah Hill’s presentations on the uses of Google Glass, Google Cardboard and the Oculus Rift.
Hill has full faith in the benefits of 3D and immersive technologies. She demoed the three devices she brought and cited a project she’s doing with the Veterans Office where she takes immersive technologies to the bedside of WWII veterans who aren’t mobile enough to physically see their memorial. Hill said even though Google Glass didn’t take off as a consumer tool, it can help create the next frontier for immersive experiences in journalism, making live reporting hands free for those in the field.
To check out more on how Google Glass can work in the field, look into the hashtag #LiveFromMyFace.
Story by Jalayna Walton, additional reporting by Rebecca McGee.