Future of Media panel led by ibiblio’s Paul Jones searches for answers

13 04 2010

To Paul Jones, the future of media will be based on a successful business model and new innovations working hand-in-hand with the Internet.

Jones, director of the archival project, ibiblio, and professor at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will host the panel of the future of media and the Web at FutureWeb 2010.

Panelists will include Penny Muse Abernathy, Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at University of North Carolina, Michael Clemente, Senior VP of News for FOX News, Dan Conover, experienced news reporter and blogger, and Doc Searls, Berkman Center Fellow at Harvard.

“My panel members are from all different media, they’re all from different levels,” Jones said. “So there’s some tough questions out there for all of them.”

Panelists will discuss different topics on the future of the media and how they relate to the ever-changing Internet.


Jones said convergence of the Internet and new technology will alter how consumers use different kinds of media.

“What becomes of television when it is on demand?” Jones said. “You don’t go to it, it comes to you.”

Jones relates this instantaneous receiving of media as a change in how technology is being developed and distributed.

“A lot of these people are remaking themselves,” he said “(They are) looking at business models, looking at trying to understand what the impact will be whether there’s actually convergence…whether we’re converging socially or personally… The real challenge is what indicators, what kind of history, what kind of past we can put together to do some sort of intelligent guessing.”

The business model and technology

Jones said one of the major questions posed to consumers now is what innovations will arise in the next several years and whether or not they will even come from the United States.

He stressed again that a majority of this will be based on how the business model adjusts to the changing technology.

“One thing we do know is music players were not very successful for a long time until someone combined the business model with a really cool device,” he said. “And it was not consumer electronics people, it wasn’t music people, it was Apple.”

Journalism and Credibility

In terms of how technology may change the face of journalism, Jones said it will be based on how individuals choose to consume media.

People base credibility off of a source’s track record, he said.

“People choose how they look for information,” he said. “We like for it to be fact-based.”

A new age of living “in the cloud”

Today more and more information is being stored through data center and built-in servers through internet-based computing, otherwise known as “cloud computing.”  Companies such as Google and Amazon allow information to be stored through servers than can be accessed via the Web.

Jones said there is some risk of privacy intrusion but it is similar to putting money in the bank, where it could be stolen.

“Data is no different,” he said.

But above privacy needs, people want to get more out of these platforms, he said.

“You have to wonder what degree that you’re giving and getting back whether it’s an Amazon service or Google service,” he said.  “The answer is I think more people want mobility, multiple access points and greater synergy derived from their data than they want data privacy to any extreme degree.”

The concept of privacy, though, has changed due to technology, Jones said. He attributes it to change in living environments, where people used to live in smaller town environments but now live in a more fast-paced suburban environment.

“People had anonymity and the ability to remake themselves constantly,” he said. “Now they all seem to know each other.”

His work with ibiblio

Jones runs ibiblio, a data archival site that hosts open source software and is run by the School of Information and Library Science and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UNC. Formerly known as SunSITE.unc.edu and MetaLab.unc.edu, its partners include the Center for the Public Domain, IBM, and SourceForge.

New cloud computing platforms are the way ibiblio will grow in the next 18 months, Jones said. His hope is to create a more virtualized way of managing storage for higher access and more flexibility for users.

With these platforms, ibiblio will achieve higher service levels and allow for more creativity, he said.

The future of media

“I think there will be lots of doors into the cloud,” Jones said. “Some of them will be large- like your television screen.”

Jones also predicts technology will change a great deal in size and purpose.

“Generally (technology) gets bigger or get smaller and the middle kind of drops out or is just kind of there.”

As far as the new iPad goes, “I’m not drunk on it yet,” Jones said.

He said the kinks need to be worked out first before anyone can really see how much of an impact it may have in changing how one receives and uses media.

Jones also said the use of projection technology may become a new trend and elements of the Sixth Sense technology (which allows for augmentation of the physical world with digital information) http://www.ted.com/talks/pattie_maes_demos_the_sixth_sense.html will become prevalent.

The major element of importance for consumers of new media?

Jones said it is all about participation.

“I think one thing we’re seeing is media is more participatory than ever,” he said. “We know what people like about local newspapers: it has a picture of their child on the cover or the winning local basketball team, much more over hard news. People care about what matters in their lives.”

 -By Laura Smith

To learn more about the future of media and the Web, register for the FutureWeb conference.  More details about the conference schedule and speakers can be found on the FutureWeb site.




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