#applewatch fail?

The first Applewatch reviews are out, and they’re worth reading.  In this video, Farhad Manjoo from the New York Times says the watch is “merging digital technology with our  body in a way we haven’t really seen before”.  His conclusion: “The first Apple Watch may not be for you – but someday soon, it will change your world.” 

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But Business Insider has this useful round-up of reviews, which it characterises as ‘quietly brutal’.   One of the most damning verdicts was from Bloomberg Business’s Joshua Topolsky, who rated the watch as a timepiece in the following way, “I’ve found the experience somewhat inferior to that with a conventional wristwatch, due to one small issue. The Apple Watch activates its screen only when it thinks you’re looking at it.”  Wait, what?

In other news on the perils of using new technology, Madonna was supposed to premiere her new video on Meerkat.   It failed, showing just a 500 error page.  Her fans were not happy.  It’s supposed to happen again today, but maybe don’t hold your breath. 

On the intersection between gaming and journalism, the BBC has created a Syrian Journey: Choose your own escape route game highlighting the dangers faced by Syrian refugees.   It cost just under 30,000 USD to create inhouse, but has been attacked as transforming human suffering into a ‘children’s game’.




Again, on the intersection between entertainment and journalism, here’s Alli Cope’s post on the Six Strangest Ways that Buzzfeed has Covered Iraq and ISIS. 

Assignment: 400 word blogpost on debate motion “Facebook is a Force for Good”.  Pick a side, either for or against the motion, and argue your corner.

The debate format will be as follows:

We will hold a vote on the motion before the debate begins.  The first speaker (the proposer) will speak for 5 mins in favour of the motion, followed by the opposer speaking against the motion.  Then the second speaker in each team (proposer’s seconder, opposer’s seconder) will speak for 5 minutes each.   Then we will open the floor to questions from the floor, and each member of the class will ask a question.  In that period, the debaters can answer questions directed to them, as well as rebutting the views of the other camp.

At the very end, the third member of each team will have a 5 minute period during which they will sum up why the audience should propose or oppose the motion.  In that time, they can sum up the arguments as well as introducing new ideas, if they should wish to do so.   Then we will hold the final vote.

Could Wearable Computers be as Harmful As Cigarettes?

Tim Robinson/New York Times

Tim Robinson/New York Times

That’s the provocative question posed by Nick Bilton in yesterday’s New York Times.  So provocative that later in the day, the headline was changed to the more sober ‘The Health Concerns in Wearable Tech’.  Bilton writes:

We have long suspected that cellphones, which give off low levels of radiation, could lead to brain tumors, cancer, disturbed blood rhythms and other health problems if held too close to the body for extended periods.  Yet here we are in 2015, with companies like Apple and Samsung encouraging us to buy gadgets that we should attach to our bodies all day long.  While there is no definitive research on the health effects of wearable computers (the Apple Watch isn’t even on store shelves yet), we can hypothesize a bit from existing research on cellphone radiation.

So what was his conclusion?  As follows:

After researching this column, talking to experts and poring over dozens of scientific papers, I have realized the dangers of cellphones when used for extended periods, and as a result I have stopped holding my phone next to my head and instead use a headset.

That being said, when it comes to wearable computers, I’ll still buy the Apple Watch, but I won’t let it go anywhere near my head. And I definitely won’t let any children I know play with it for extended periods of time.

But Wired’s Nick Stockton has called this ‘An Attack on Science’,  arguing that any risk is still hypothetical rather than proven.  Popular Science also called the essay ‘naive’, ‘inaccurate and alarmist’.   Its advice?  Everybody just calm down.

To help you calm down, here are the blogposts of the week: Shelby Francis for writing about a true innovation and David Borghard for analysis.  And a good bonus read for sports fans here:  What the New York Times Learned from Pulling its Knicks Beat Writer this Season (Poynter).  If you’re too lazy to read it, one answer is that crowdsourcing basketball stories works.


1) The End of Big (Media): when News Organizations move from Brands to Platforms for Talent (Nieman)

2) World’s Best Blogger (Harvard Magazine) 

3) A Note to My Readers (Andrew Sullivan)

4) The Blog is Dead, Long Live the Blog (Two takes at Nieman and Guardian)

ASSIGNMENT:   Profile one person who is prominent in your field or covering your field – possibly a citizen journalist, but could be anyone – with extra credit if you actually interview them.   Feel free to experiment with format, so you could write a traditional blogpost, or use an email interview, twitter, storyful, an audio interview or a video interview. (For March 26)

News You Can Wear

Technological innovation is coming to news delivery… .and soon.   It’s only five weeks until the Apple Watch launches. And other innovations are changing the way news is delivered.  Like robots.  Here’s one vision of the future:

One day you might even have your own personal robot journalist, filing daily stories just for you on your fitness tracking data and your personal finances.

“We sort of flip the traditional content creation model on its head,” [Automated Insights CEO Robbie Allen] says. “Instead of one story with a million page view, we’ll have a million stories with one page view each.”

According to one man, Andrew Keen, The Internet Is Not The Answer.  That’s the name of his new book, and he gave a thought-provoking interview on NPR on Monday.  He sees the internet not so much as a disruptor than as a destroyer:

The more we use the contemporary digital network, the less economic value it is bringing to us. Rather than promoting economic fairness, it is a central reason for the growing gulf between rich and poor and the hollowing out of the middle class. Rather than making us wealthier, the distributed capitalism of the new networked economy is making most of us poorer. Rather than generating more jobs, this digital disruption is a principal cause of our structural unemployment crisis. Rather than creating more competition, it has created immensely powerful new monopolists like Google and Amazon.

Its cultural ramifications are equally chilling. Rather than creating transparency and openness, the Internet is creating a panopticon of information-gathering and surveillance services in which we, the users of big data networks like Facebook, have been packaged as their all-too-transparent product. Rather than creating more democracy, it is empowering the rule of the mob. Rather than encouraging tolerance, it has unleashed such a distasteful war on women that many no longer feel welcome on the network. Rather than fostering a renaissance, it has created a selfie-centered culture of voyeurism and narcissism. Rather than establishing more diversity, it is massively enriching a tiny group of young white men in black limousines. Rather than making us happy, it’s compounding our rage.

No, the Internet is not the answer. Not yet, anyway.

Also in the news this week, Obama on Vice this time.   And the White House is having an Instameet.

Reading for Thursday:

1)  The Next Stage in the Battle for Attention is Our Wrists (Nieman)

2) The Future of News on Apple Watch is in Yahoo’s Hands (Buzzfeed)

3) How Vice’s Tim Pool used Google Glass to Cover the Riots in Turkey (The Guardian)

4) Why Google Glass Broke (NYT)

ASSIGNMENT 1): Write a blogpost on the innovative use of one type of technology that is transforming your beat.   It could be a new device for recording or broadcast (gopro, drones, optimus prime), or it could be a new type of wearable technology (smartclothes, fitbit etc). (for Mar 19)

2) Photo story for March 19th.

Behold the Emoji-Interview


Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop is the first politician ever to have conducted a political interview entirely in emojis.   Predictably, it was with Buzzfeed.   The limitations of the media are – ahem – quite clear, lending themselves to the squishy questions rather than anything with any geopolitical depth.

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But I enjoyed this satirical response from the Vine, who had their own version of an emoji-interview with Prime Minister Tony Abbott (not).



Meanwhile, blogpost of the week goes to Devin Schott for finding this fantastic visualization of CO2 emissions.  You’d need a supercomputer, however, to replicate it.  Also, a shout-out to Mallory Anderson for posting her thoughts on the role of social media in the Brian Williams scandal.

In other news, Sony has begun selling its rival to the now defunct Google Glass.  Behold the Smart Eyeglass, criticised by one user as a “chastity belt for your face”.  Anyone know how to say glasshole in Sony?


Next class is in the Shapiro Library room 4041.

Reading: Clay Christiansen Mastering the Art of Disruptive Innovation in Journalism (Nieman)

ASSIGNMENT: Watch a network TV newscast on ABC, NBC or CBS. In a blogpost analyse the choice of stories, the type of treatment given to them and your assessment of the role of network TV news in the digital era. (For Thursday Feb 26th)