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Designing the future of the newspaper – an iPad app for collaborative viewing

The newspaper is a dying breed. In fact, Philip Meyer predicted in his 2004 book (called The Vanishing Newspaper – yeah) that the final copy of the final newspaper will appear on someone’s doorstep one day in 2043. This is good, of course, as long as it pertains to the “paper” in newspaper. Anna Benckert, interaction design master’s student, has explored how major media companies can be engaged in curating news material from external sources, and she has designed a tablet newspaper with two faces: view and read.

Thesis title: Designing the future of the newspaper: An aggregator for online news that combines editorial sources with social media in order to provide overview and accessibility. Download here (PDF).

Less writing, more curating
News is certainly not a dying breed, and you might expect that as people get over the initial fascination with on-demand practices of searching, trawling and browsing they will realize that some professional help might come in handy in handling the information avalanche. Editors, journalists and curators may need to be prepared to meet rapidly growing demands.

The demands are likely to be a little different, though. With collaborative media, there is no way back to mass media models of a few institutions producing for the consuming masses. One might speculate that the news professionals of the future will be doing less writing and more curating.

Curation and a peripheral display of a news stream
This is one of the topics that interaction design master’s student Anna Benckert has looked at in her 2011 degree project. The work, which was done at Medea’s News Media Concept Lab, is called Designing the future of the newspaper and it essentially makes two major points.

iPad app for collaborative viewing
Depicting the “viewing” mode in a kitchen setting

First, it looks at how mass-media institutions and invididuals with brand recognition can add value by curating material from blogs, Twitter and other kinds of user-generated content along with the conventional editorial content.

Secondly, it takes a hard look at 24-hour news consumption patterns of the near future and translates those into a design of a tablet “newspaper” with two faces: View and Read. The viewing mode is largely a peripheral display of a news stream, much like the kitchen radio except that it does text and video in addition to audio, whereas the reading mode is center-of-attention. Nice touch: viewing runs with the tablet in landscape orientation, and reading is portrait. The two modes are integrated in ways that make sense from an everyday use point-of-view, and there are hooks to other media channels such as the living-room TV with its collaborative viewing characteristics.

Designing Future News Viewing Mode
“viewing” mode again

There are many more details to the full work; Anna’s thesis can be downloaded from the Malmö University Electronic Press thesis page.

Read more
Medea’s News Media Concept Lab
About the interaction design masters programme at K3, Malmö University