Thursday, September 19, 2013

Through the Google Glass (and journalism) - Part II

A recent accident on Washington and Hurley avenues in Kingston, N.Y. captured through Glass.

Google Glass is making us rethink the way we consume and produce news.

The promise.

Google Glass — the high-tech wearable augmented reality device— has the potential to reshape journalism for both consumers and producers.

I should know. I’m a journalist.

So when Google opened its Glass “Explorer” program, in which a group of people would be selected to get a pair, I applied on Twitter using the hashtag “#ifIHadGlass,” sending a pitch about why I should be chosen to be one of the 8,000 experimental participants. Here's a recap of that:

So I obtained a pair (The current explorer edition was $1,500, so the company was kind enough to pay for it). 

It was time to deliver.

The experience

I have now spent two and a half months with the device, both as a consumer and producer. And although it is still in very much in the early stages, I have come to the conclusion that Google Glass can disrupt the news industry once again.

I know, just what you wanted to hear.

In the short time with the device, I've used it during a live forum with a congressman I've covered festival and fairs; I’ve even teamed with an area film festival to improve our live coverage; I've taken and posted photos and videos about the community that were well received.

I should note that, as an editor, most of my work day is spent at a desk. I have no idea how I've manage to do all of this.

What it means for journalism

From a journalist's perspective:

Currently, Google Glass can help improve journalism by enhancing live coverage, communication and engagement. 

Enhancing live coverage: It’s much easier to take photos and videos with Glass. I can't stress this enough. It’s the equivalent of having a phone ready to take a picture or video right in front of you at all times.  You can easily cover fires, protests, floods, conferences, fairs, you name it. The coverage benefits from having eyes on the ground, and allowing your audience to be part of that experience.

Improving communications and engagement: You could be at an event while having a video conference in which your intended audience could see what you are covering. This could be to help reporters, or for the reporter at the scene to give the newsroom a live sense of the scene. You can also make calls and send and get priority emails to selected contacts.  

The potential: I do have a longer list of things you can’t (yet) do with Google Glass, though I’m pretty sure they will be developed. I’m my ideal scenario, you could host a public live video stream of an event via Glass via Hangouts on Air (there’s a way around it, but it ends up being easier to use a phone instead), where you could theoretically video conference with news makers or at news event and share that while having live participants. 

Tim Pool of Vice used his Android device to find a way to livestream with Glass:

"When there's a wall of police firing plastic bullets at you, and you're running through a wall of tear-gas, having your hands free to cover your face, while saying 'OK Glass, record a video', makes that recording process a lot… easier." 

Sarah Hill, put it bluntly: "Glass –- and other wearable devices -– will turn satellite trucks and bulky equipment into museum pieces."

Mandy Jenkins, a colleague at Digital First Media, brainstormed some ideas with some folks from the Online News Association, about what Glass could offer. Among them was to "Incorporate augmented reality layering with reporter created and curated information about a local area or landmark." 

From a user's perspective:

As far as apps go, the current news apps (CNN and New York Times) act like small updates (though CNN has video updates, and that's a nice touch (except for that twerking girl on fire video update a while back. BAD CNN!). But I would like to see media organizations develop apps that provide news and information that matter to one’s daily life: What’s the price of that house I’m looking at right now and what are the crime stats in that very area?; How expensive is that restaurant and what’s the story behind its building? 
What’s that song I’m hearing and is the band playing nearby? (Glass latest update does have a Shazaam-like song recognition search).

The potential to improve journalism (and yes, money guys, to monetize this) is there. 

Sure, Glass is just a tool, but it’s a tool that changes the way we experience news. 

So the question is, will the news industry be blind to Glass?

PREVIOUSLY:  Through the Google Glass (and journalism) Part I
A much tighter version of this post is scheduled to appear in the October issue of the Local News Association's newsletter.