Media Futurist to Journalism Students: ‘Winning Internet Isn’t Rocket Science, It’s DATA Science’

By Kayla SodersCMM correspondent

“The physical world is all becoming one giant interactive surface.”

This past Sunday, noted media futurist Amy Webb performed a wearable technology “striptease” of sorts during her closing keynote speech at the 2014 ACP/CMA National College Media Convention.

Throughout her talk — headlined “Amy Webb Sees the Future Of Media — And She’s Not Afraid! (You Shouldn’t Be, Either)” — she sported, shed and let the audience later experiment with a range of tech gear including Google Glass, Pebble and Melon’s brain-tracking headband.

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With the gear as her guide, Webb, the CEO of Webbmedia Group, explained how the innovation of new technology will transform the way journalism is carried out — for better and worse. She also passed along some tips aimed at helping journalists engage with and feel empowered by the many nascent and incoming technological trends.

 

Below is a sampling of Webb’s words of wisdom.

“Winning the Internet isn’t rocket science, it’s DATA science.” According to Webb, it is essential to think about ways to increase website traffic, know your audience, engage with your audience and figure out how to best use the tools and technology.

Bots will not replace journalism, they will enhance it. Webb said that bots can be used for supplemental, time-saving work such as the use of an algorithm to write the first drafts of general assignment articles. Be comfortable using them and learning to create them.

Start encapsulating “Humancentric Design.” Or more simply, place the consumers in the middle of the equation — consumer expectations = X {given Y variables at T time}. Webb stressed the importance of knowing your audience and how they come into play in your publication. And curate for people’s behaviors, not just how the devices work.

Start protecting your digital privacy. From Webb’s perspective, the advancement of technology has made it critical to protect your online reputation. It is only going to get easier to dig up information about you via virtual means.

“Stay aggressively curious.” Webb advised student attendees during her speech to remain as passionately curious as they possibly can. For example, take classes you normally wouldn’t. If your mind is open and you’re curious, the possibilities will be endless.

Résumé tips. Throughout her talk, Webb shared résumé suggestions and predictions that correlated with her tips and the trends she sees as imminent and increasingly ubiquitous.

Among the bullet points she sees becoming popular on future résumés:

– Hackathon participant, Built XYZ, presented in front of ABC

– Experience using A device, B device, C device in XYZ software environments

– Wrote about wearables for “______”

– Took data science class, studied algorithms with ABC professor

– Created a “____” bot. See my code at GitHub.com

– Increased traffic to website A or B

– Increased Facebook engagement, explain how

– Studied storyboarding

– Worked with a developer to create a prototype

– Classes in cyber”__”

– Basic encryption

– Black belt in Aikido

– Fluent in “___”

– Supplemental XYZ classes at “_____”

Embrace, experiment, learn. In closing, Webb noted that it takes a really long time for technologies like the ones she had described to come to the market, but once they do they take off. Her advice: Don’t run from them. Embrace them. Experiment, learn from and engage with these tools so you can benefit from them. They are the future of journalism.

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