Imagineering Revolution in Tech Week

When is mobile fit to sit, and digital narrative appropriate?

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Epilogue: professions under threat in the future, journalism… source: Wired The rise of the homo-techno-journalist…

Are we in the grip of a fourth Industrial Revolution, a state in which technologies are presumably so integrated into our lives that they recalibrate our work-life balance?

It’s an alluring headline that requires investigating. Or is it a marketing blanket, designed to make you feel snug, and become complacent to the next sell? It’s been touted years ago amongst the burgeoning UK cottage Net industries, but it never quite delivered.

Elsewhere, Apple’s playing catch up with Google’s Daydream, Facebook‘s Oculus and Microsoft’s Hololens, but like any tech soirée, it needs to do a ‘Jobs’. How do you push this motherboard further than the competition. Apple’s new OS will de facto support an external graphics card so you can VR from your Macbook Pro, says the lit.

And Snapchat’s long-awaited spectacles in Europe are about to momentarily put other tech’s in the shade. The last time another giant tried this, and I was one of the explorers, it did not end as expected. My Captain Le Forge’s suit has since been moth balled.

But times change. Snapchat’s glasses, unlike Google’s, exclude an inbuilt view finder to review recorded footage. What you’ve never had though you don’t miss and at 130UKP a go, pricing obviously matters. Whatever happened to the privacy issue though?

Can photography in a public space ever be illegal asks website Through the Cracks. If you purposefully record someone without their consent, can that equally be challenged in courts as the illegal acquisition of personal data?

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This morning I was under the bonnet of my pseudo-portal/website, viewmagazine, seeking to recode and design it so it more elegantly reflects my habitat cognate fields, tech-society-philosophy, because next week I’m at London’s Tech Week fair.

I’m there not as a *speaker, but doubling down on my other key profession, reportage. Tech Week is a smorgasbord of tech talks and innovation, featuring an array of the aforementioned issues.

I’ll be reporting on various events but clearly the challenge in reportage imagineering is the sheer abundance of content versus choice and strategy around the use of video, text, live reportage, twitting, and taking photographs.

In prepping my kit below, minus the drone, but adding a new theta 360 camera, what production style and approach shapes the choice of mobile gear?

It’s not binary. As a videojournalist, particularly mobile journalist (a marketing person’s dream come true), invariably the onus has been on quantity and quick turnarounds which necessitates mobile phone reportage. But today, with little need for daily productions, and given the competition from a plethora of outputs, surely deep quality and substance should be given greater consideration and weighting.

Moreover, by quality, tech reportage shouldn’t just be a buff on its aesthetic, shiny happy things for shiny happy people (REM), though we can’t help that, but an exploration of tech issues: social, environmental, commercial and philosophical.

Then there’s style of production. Here, for moment I’ll delve into creative minds like Pablo Ferro, originator of some of the most famous film titles e.g. Bullitt (1968). The famous child psychologist Jean Piaget discovered how an object’s permanence, its perception, is not shaped until ten months. Until then, to a child the world, its coordinates of space and time, is in a state of flux.

It’s magic, a state mused around Einstein’s theory. Travelling at the speed of light, space and time become effervescently one. Imagine slices of bread where each slice represents vast knowledge flattening space and time. It’s difficult to imagine because of our years of conditioning to reasoning and rational doubt. In my last post in VR and 4D, I nodded at Chris Nolan’s artistry in making this concept more concrete in Interstellar.

We, I mean adults, organise around the conventions of communication, invariably reducing the need to have fun and create art. That’s something about a youngster worldview that is instructive to reportage and storytelling in seeking out the magical. In essence, Snapchat’s glasses perhaps recreate that stasis, capturing a playfulness, a world of Alice in Wonderland — which lest we forget was created by a mathematician Charles Dodgson. But how to reflect that world in video and print?

In Into the Woods by John Yorke, a highly acclaimed account of story making, Yorke reminds us to be aware of structurally orthodox styles and how audiences bore when presented with formulaic content. What then is a generally fresh approach to designing content in form and presentation?

Many conferences and institutions lean to a dominate style that we’re invited to follow. It often negates the poetics of form and construct. For me, this is the stuff of digital and interactive storytelling. It’s not just a question of Apps, but creativity, innovation and craft skill. Otherwise, the arrival of AI journalists will happen sooner than we think.

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Photo — David Dunkley Gyimah in China

Besides this, there are a couple of things on my mind. On the day of a cataclysmic election in the UK, just how, given the weight of partisan newspaper headlines, did Britain’s Labour party manage to spectacularly buck the trend and win more seats?

The UK’s general election was touted by psephologists as the end of the Labour party. It didn’t happen. Central to this drama was the role played by conservative leaning press with its mean-spirited covers. It made me remember Adam Curtis’ acclaimed Century of Self and the role played by psychologists tapping people’s unconscious and irrational fears.

If you’re going to tell a lie, the saying goes, tell a whopper closer to the truth. Were the newspapers so egregious in their copy that they simply lost the plot? And why are they called newspapers. I’d lobby for opinionpapers.

This is not the end of the newspapers’ influence on citizens, in spite of social media; politics will regroup so depth analysts find newer ways into our minds. The outcome of this election therefore deserves deeper media analysis.

Back to the earlier vexing issue. What is digital and interactive storytelling? On wiki, it’s tabled as craft less. It’s as easy as boiling an egg, whilst several practitioners view it as App addled reportage. As with many things in life there’s no complete answer, but storytelling filtered through FCP or mobile apps cannot solely represent digital storytelling. I’m fashioning a more critical argument that levitates it to an artistic form, in line with the MA course we’re launching at the University of Westminster.

There’s an analogue mode of thinking, and then digital, still fluidly forming. Just as digital has transformed filmmaking’s aesthetic, there’s an oft overlooked aesthetic of storytelling within journalism, tv docs, essay, social media features and the rest that requires renewed attention, with our gaze moved sideways.

If you’re at Tech Week, see you there. If there’s something you’d like me to look into, drop me a line.

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David at Apple

Dr David Dunkley Gyimah is a tech, artist, journalist, filmmaker, writer and educator. He has *spoken at SWSX, ONA, and BFI. He’s part of an interdisciplinary team at the University of Westminster, disLAB — currently recruiting for this year. Please email him at d.gyimah[at]Westminster [dot] to reach him.

Written by

Top Writer & Creative Technologist, Int. Award Winner. Cinemajournalist. Cardiff Uni @jomec. PhD (Dublin). Visiting Prof UBC, Ex BBC/C4News. Apple profiled.

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