The early days of a new tech launch are always a test. Should we adopt it or not? Will it be around for enough time to justify the time spent learning and using it? If it dies, will we lose all of our data?
Many are having this same discussion about Google Plus right now. As the new-kid-on-the-block challenger to Facebook, there are many questions out there about whether it’s worth it to learn it. I’m already on record about the fact that I think this thing is a game-changer, and I think it’s time for our Lehigh journalism, marketing, and PR students to get on the train now so they can be ahead of the curve. We don’t want to wait until someone tells us at a leadership or strategic communication seminar 2 years from now.
I’m also making this argument for the university as a whole, and you can read it here. I do think GPlus is going to change the way we do education, but this post is devoted to journalism.
The most interesting turn my classes have taken this semester has been the step up in collaboration. Both my J198 Multimedia Reporting and my J325 New Media & Social Change courses have been made more use of collaboration in projects outside the bounds of the class itself. This has been my “classroom without walls” vision on steroids.
In J325, my students are collaborating on a social change project with students in Kjerstin Thorson’s class at the University of Southern California. This has been interesting to watch mostly because my main rule for myself has been to stay out of things. It’s in my nature to plan and micromonitor the learning process, but Kjerstin and I both have made the committment to let these projects develop organically. In plainspeak, it means I’m staying the hell out of it and being more of a guide and sounding board. Their pitches are due this week, with only one guideline: we want you to wow us.
I have to be honest: I was pretty disappointed by most of the journalism-specific panels I attended at SXSWi. It’s not that the info wasn’t good or vital, it’s that I expected a lot more forward-looking or cutting-edge stuff. I blogged about a particularly disappointing one (not so much the panel’s fault, I think, as much as it was the tone set by the questions), but that was fairly typical. The best sessions that I could use were in non-journalism arenas such as gaming and marketing.
One panel I have been looking forward to actually exceeded my high expectations. “Future of Context: Getting the Bigger Picture Online” with Jay Rosen, Matt Thompson, and Tristan Harris was everything I was looking for here at SXSWi: important questions, big ideas, and a focus on discussion and solutions. No teeth-gnashing over stale questions like “Will bloggers replace journalists?” and other such important chatter from 2005.
I’m not going to reinvent the wheel and recap this thing. Elise Hu at the Texas Tribune did an excellent liveblog summary of the panel and discussion, and if you want to hack the raw tweetstream check out what the audience was doing with the #futureofcontext hashtag. What I want to do here is briefly sketch out the argument and where my mind has been going with this since the panel spoke.