What's the content, Kenneth?

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Sims296a3 - Proposed Scope
Digital Commerce Group
Anoop Sinha


  Marshal McLuhan once wrote that "the medium is the message."  The World Wide Web and other modern information sources provide new mediums, and more likely than not, new messages. 

Particularly for the delivery of news, what message forms will follow the traditional newspaper, magazine, radio, and TV?  At this point, the content might take the form of some combination of the four available methods.  The WWW already has the ability to deliver streaming audio and video as well as static pictures and text.  Sites like Microsoft's MSNBC  are already taking advantage of all four forms.  Does the combination of visual, audio, and textual input enhance news presentation and understanding? 

The combination of these four mediums is only one new available feature.  The WW W  also adds interactivity, opening up the possibility for interactive news delivery.  Interactivity will let the user submit preferences, and this is leading to individually customized news delivery.  By way of model, all users could potentially have access to an news information depository, and systems would deliver certain stories to the user based on inputted preferences. 

Interactivity also means that it is easy for individuals to publish their own thoughts or information for others to access.  Each user could be an information source for other interested users.  This in itself is a new sort of news.  The only parallel in current media is the classified ad, which could be displaced by individuals' classified flea market web pages. 

Perhaps at some point news will be immersive.  Rather than reading or watching a video clip, a user might be able to virtually transport himself to the site of a news story and see what is happening first hand, eliminating the middle-man reporter but perhaps changing the psychological understanding of the news story that the user might have seen on the evening news in earlier times. 

Hopefully, the promise of technology is enhanced human capabilities, both mechanical and cognitive.  As far as news delivery is concerned, content that is presently available on the WWW and the future forms of that content deserve careful study to see whether they are fulfilling technology's promise. 



created by Anoop Sinha, 2/24/97, aks@eecs.berkeley.edu
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