Saturday, April 17, 2010

Print Isn't Dead, But It Is Changing...

When I was a kid I was really good with technology. My elementary school didn't have an official A/V club, but by fourth grade, I was the kid the teachers asked for help with VCRs and projectors during "media" days. Naturally that carried over to junior high, where I was such a fast typist, I took the entrance exam to the typing class and did so well I was exempt from the class altogether. I spent that period helping out the computer teacher (i.e. sitting in his classroom playing Tetris and working on the yearbook).

But somewhere as I grew and developed, my knack for-- and to a degree, my interest in-- new and ever-changing technology stunted slightly. Maybe it was that I was getting older and learning new things weren't coming as easily. After all, I mastered AOL in the nineties and can find information on just about anything and everything via even the most obscure websites and search engines, yet I never thought to teach myself HTML code, which is now severely biting me in the ass since I'm a blogger. I'm not saying I couldn't learn if I tried now, but it certainly would take a little longer than if I had picked it up at age eleven!

I don't have a DVR. I know how to operate one; I just choose not to allow them in my home. It's a long story.

The other day on the set of a web series (talk about new media and technology!), I had a whole conversation with one of our actors about where we thought technology was headed when we were kids (I still don't have my robot-maid or flying car, people!) versus where we think it can realistically go now. This came out of a two-day discussion about the iPad in which one crewmember was trying to convince everyone and anyone on set to buy one, but I held firm that there was no need (or room) for it in my lifestyle. One could say again that I am just not keeping up with technology on that front. I instead prefer to think of it as choosing not to spend money needlessly. And that's something I do consider as growth...just of a different type.

One idea that was brought up in regards to advertising, especially since in an increasing-DVR-using world no one watches commercials unless they're during the Super Bowl (and even then I went to a party once through which those were fast-forwarded. As someone who hates football and only attended for the commercials and the dip, I was pretty pissed about half my fun being taken away!). Anyway, we were saying that someday our remotes will probably be mini-touch screens, not unlike an iPad, and when we're watching a show, we'll be able to click on certain items within that show, such as the car the family is driving or a dress someone is wearing, and it will bring us to informational websites about the brand, price, and where to purchase.

It's a way to make the TV-watching experience even more interactive than it has become in recent years with all those reality shows that allow you to call or text in your votes. Furthermore, it will open new departments within the world of entertainment and allow for many new jobs to be created, as a lot goes into collecting the data before it can be shared.

I bring this up now because the newest issue of Entertainment Weekly has brought us a sample of what this technology might be like, only they did it in a slightly different way. The Microsoft Tag App for Smartphones is displayed in their new Summer Movie Preview Double Issue (#1099/1100), and once it has been downloaded, one simply hovers their smartphone above certain coded images on the page and the phone recognizes them and redirects to the YouTube version of that film's trailer or product's commercial. It's ingenius, and for the first time in a really long time, I "Wow"-ed aloud and thought that new technology was something magical and revolutionary.

As a journalist, I admit I was a little worried past the "cool" factor of this App. If you can just code pages with images and then have people watch things on their phones, who's going to want to read the articles I hope to someday get in magazines like Entertainment Weekly!? But then I tested it out. After reading the interview piece with Angelina Jolie (which the author points out was conducted by e-mail!), I scanned the image and watched the trailer for her new movie, Salt. It was the perfect companion to seal the idea planted in my head from the interview: that I want to see this movie on opening night. When used correctly, this new technology has the power to bring more eyes onto a project and onto a piece of press in general. As long as it doesn't replace articles.

For example, using this technology, I could easily turn my Wii with the Stars videos into something I do for a print publication, should one hire me. I would write a half-page or so about the show and person who is playing along with me and then provide the coded image at the bottom of that intro piece to direct readers to the edited footage. There are already online components of every magazine out there on newsstands today, but this opens up the ability of magazines to create new and original content directly for their publications through another medium. Entertainment Weekly's own Michael Ausiello, for example, could develop an on-camera column, either a talk show from his home ala Ted Casablanca or more news style where he delivers his blind items from a teleprompter. A few years ago I would have said that's not necessary: the way the written word is crafted and manipulated from one article to another, even with the same information inside, is what makes someone gravitate toward one publication versus another. But things are changing, and to stay alive, one has to keep up. With Microsoft Tag, it appears print publications have found a way to keep a dying medium not only alive but relevant once again.

A few months ago I needed to return something to Apple, and I had the receipt saved in my email. The kid at the store tried to scan the barcode on the receipt on my iPhone with his little scanner device. It didn't work because of the iPhone's coating. He ended up having me forward the email to the store, and he printed it. It's amazing how far technology has come in such a short amount of time! And this time, I want in!!

1 comment:

jenna said...

I looked into the Microsoft Tag. Yes- definitely cool!!!