fredag 29 november 2013

News trends

In my project course "Future of Media" (spanning the whole autumn term), this year's theme is "The Future of News / News of the Future". My previous blog post discussed the difficulties of "grading the future" (i.e. grading these students projects).

This year we think long and hard about technological, economical and other aspects that have made the news industry into what it has been (past), what it is today (present), and what it will become tomorrow (future).

The news landscape is changing quickly today and the opportunities have never been greater when it comes to introducing new content or new business ideas. Anyone with a computer and an Internet connection has unlimited choices regarding what to read – or can become a news channel (of sorts) and publish his or her own news. However, the threats facing traditional publishers and broadcasters have never been greater than they are today. Traditional business models struggle and new business models might – or might not – be forthcoming.

So what will the future bring us? What genres, what purposes of consuming news, what content, what technologies and what business ideas will emerge and become important in the future? These are questions that my students are exploring and attempt to answer in this course. In short, what will news look like 10 or 20 years from now?

Ten groups of students are right now exploring ten different futures for news. The students will present their suggestions and the results of their projects in front of a live audience on December 12 (welcome - sign up here!). The results will also be available online, at

All ten project groups are aiming at futures that will come true sometime in the next 10-20 year, i.e. sometime between 2023 and 2033. All the groups have also had to limit themselves to, or at least orient themselves towards, a Swedish (Western, relatively affluent) context. The proposed futures might, but do not have to, assume large technological breakthroughs. Some technologies and ideas are already around today, or are being explored in laboratories at this very moment, but might take many years or even a decade or two to germinate – to spread and take hold among a larger proportion of the population. The challenge might not always be to invent a purely technological future, but to imagine patterns of usage and new business models emerging when current (or future) patterns of usage among pioneering groups of early adopters spread to larger groups in our society.

Despite widely different ideas and scenarios, there are still at number of "trends" that the ten project groups assume will happen. How do we know what these trends are? We of course asked the students. Instead of each group using up their supply of limited, precious words to describe a trend that several other groups also assume, we asked them to suggest trends to offload to the introductory chapter of the book we are producing. We did this last year too and identified seven different magazine trends. This year we managed to identify no less than eleven (sometimes interlinking) technological, economic or lifestyle/usage trends that are of importance to "The Future of News / News of the Future". Each trend is important for at least a few groups, and sometimes for many project groups:

1. More mobile devices
We will use more mobile devices in the future, such as smartphones, tablets etc. Just as virtually everyone today owns a mobile phone, they will own a smartphone and/or a tablet in the future, and will to a large degree use these devices for media consumption.

2. Multiple devices used
People will use and switch between multiple devices, depending on their moment-to-moment situation. Even when moving between different rooms at home, people can switch between different devices. This will lead to a high demand for shared or uniform security and “sensible” subscription or other payment plans.

3. Always connected, always synchronized
As we will use our mobile devices more in the future and switch between different devices, there will be a higher demand for seamless solutions. Devices will always be connected and perfectly synchronized with each other. These always-connected, always-synchronized devices will be a natural choice for consuming media.

4. More news channels
Besides current media channels, there will be alternative channels in the future. These could for example include individual channels, such as “ordinary” persons publishing blogs or podcasts, or corporations starting a TV-channel, or non-governmental agencies with their own Facebook and YouTube channels.

5. More (co-)creation and sharing
There will be a greater volume and variety in the news landscape, because of more co-creation and sharing of content, for example via blogs, Facebook, and other social media. Ordinary persons who cannot be regarded as full-fledged news channels (see above), will produce news-related content that will be shared among smaller or larger groups of people.

6. Personalized/individualized news
Beyond mass media, there will be real individualization of news, according to each individual’s interests and preferences. While there are some attempts to go in this direction today, we have really only seen the beginning of this development. In the future, you will read articles from sources that you haven't heard of before.

7. More non-text formats for news
News will to a higher extent be consumed through non-text formats, such as video, images, and audio. Today’s popular cat images and YouTube videos hint at this growing trend. In a time-pressed future, short news items will win out over long complicated in-depth stories.

8. Increased need for high-speed, high-quality infrastructure/networks
In order to cater for higher volumes of data traffic, there will be an increased need for better infrastructure. According mobile traffic forecasts from 2010, the amount of traffic will increase by a factor of 33 between 2010 and 2030, and the broadcast network of 2020 will be ultra-high speed and ubiquitous.

9. Hurried, time-pressed news consumers
The future will be high-paced, with hectic lifestyles and impatient users. This implies a need for shorter visual news items and more overviews presentations. Multitasking is on the rise, which will lead to an increasing use of audio while performing other tasks.

10. More commuting
People will spend more time commuting due to continued urbanization and a continued spatial and geographical expansion of cities. This trend implies that we will access and consume news on the move; in subways, on buses, etc. This will also be a driver for using more mobile devices in society.

11. Big data & surveillance
More data will be collected and more surveillance will be performed – for good and for bad. This has important implications for issues having to do with integrity, but it also brings about possibilities for more convenience and better service in many different areas of society.

söndag 24 november 2013

How do you grade the future?

In my project course "Future of Media" around 50-60 students work with a different topics every year. This year's topic is "The Future of News/News of the Future". These students are divided into 10 project groups or each group work on developing a scenario for the future.

As we are nearing the end of the term and the end of the course, each group has to (as part of the examination):
- Produce a text that will become a chapter in the jointly produced book.
- Develop a design representation of the results. This could be done in the form of a mock-up, a prototype, a short film, a website, or through visualizations of visions and scenarios.
- Develop an oral presentation that is part of the joint public presentation at the end of the term.

That is all and well, but, how do we evaluate and grade the work that these project groups do? In the course PM, it is written:

"Since this is a project course and the nature of the task and the results are very open-ended, it can be difficult to examine (judge, grade) the final results. It is not possible to specify in detail and in advance exactly what conclusions project groups should arrive at without at the same time limiting the ability to freely explore those aspects of the theme that you find to be most interesting"

Having said those nice words, how do we in practice evaluate and grade the work that these project groups do? This is a question that we have struggled with more or less since the course's inception ten years ago. We have of course had criteria, but after having used a set of criteria for two years, I was quite dissatisfied with them after last year's run of the course and I wrote a blog post about it back then.

We have now revamped the criteria (sometimes just slicing the criteria we already use in new ways and sometimes adding or subtracting stuff that was hard to judge or deemed less relevant (or even irrelevant). Below is our new-and-improved list of criteria that we will utilize at the end of the course a couple of weeks from now. The list has been published in the course blog and this means that students have the chance to evaluate and use these criteria to improve the deliverables they are working on, i.e. a win-win situation.

Some of the criteria below are coupled to a specific deliverable while others are more general. A few criteria even relate to the whole package and possible synergy effect between all the three deliverables.


Criteria 1 - Process. Running work that you have done since you were divided into groups and starting with the project plan and finishing with your last weekly status report on Friday next week.

Criteria 2 - High quality text. The text (book chapter) should be correct and easy to read (worst-case scenario: a text that requires a lot of effort to be understood). The text should furthermore have a well-developed line of reasoning and analyze, reflect and argue for whatever it is you want to say (and it's much better to say a few things clearly than to raise too many different issues that point in different directions). The text should be coherent and with no internal contradictions. To explain and exemplify is fine. To identify, categorize, differentiate, contrast, combine, modify, conclude (etc.) is better.

Criteria 3 - Creativity. Your project (your Big Idea) will hopefully have a lot of "innovative potential" ("idéhöjd"). To what extent are the results of your work innovative, original and perhaps surprising? Are you onto something interesting and have worked in a creative way to "solve" the problem/challenge of your choice? Does your solution meet real needs? Does the underlying idea raise the pulse?

Criteria 4 - Grounding. To what extent are the project group's results credible? Are your solutions backed up and strengthened by literature you relate to, empirical material you have collected or own experiences that are relevant?

Criteria 5 - Professional design representation. Your design representation (most often a film but other forms are also possible) should be characterized by a high level of professionalism and craftsmanship. Does you design representation communicate the concept (your Big Idea) well?

Criteria 6 - Professional presentation. Your presentation should be characterized by a high level of professionalism; you have to be able to clearly communicate your message (your Big Idea) to the audience. Was the presentation well structured, was it fun and did the presenter(s) do a good job? You should also be able to provide good answers to potential questions you get from the jury.

Criteria 7 - Credibility. How easy is it to understand your solution? Are your conclusions/solution believable and convincing? NOTE: your conclusions/solution doesn't have to be probable or even desirable, but they have to be believable!

Criteria 8 - Coherence. Does the text, the design representation and the presentation cohere and interlink? Do they support each other (or do they instead pull in different directions)? Can the results be regarded as a well-integrated whole that is more than the sum of the constituent parts?

Criteria 9 (updated 2014) - Relevance (in relation to the theme). How does your scenario relate to this year's theme? How is it relevant to (future) media and media technology?

The future is by definition unknown, so how do you evaluate and grade the future? Do you think these criteria make sense and are useful or is something missing or wrong? Do comment if you have any opinions (or praise?). Any feedback is welcome since this really is a tricky thing!

söndag 17 november 2013

Social media & politics

I read an article in yesterday's morning newspaper (SvD) about "Lobbyists whispering in politicians' ears on Twitter" (different title online for some reason, "Twitter confirms politicians' own world view". It was an ambitious article with complicated graphics and I acutely felt that this could have been the result of a bachelor's or a master's thesis written by students at my department.

Since 2014 is an election year, politics and social media would be an excellent topic for a thesis this spring. I have been the advisor of two theses on the topic of social media and politics:

1) Per Engberg and Tobias Joneby wrote a good bachelor's thesis during the spring of 2010 about metrics and about the results of measuring members of parliament's blogs in terms of popularity, activity etc. They found 126 blogs, they weighted and measured the blogs and also got in touch with 14 random members of parliament. Half of them answered a battery of questions by email. A (to me) quite remarkable results was that few politicians had any clear idea about why they blogged (i.e. they didn't have any specific purpose or formulated goals with their blogging). The (Swedish-language) thesis is called "Blogg: Med metriken i fokus" and it is available online.

2) Meri Kavak presented her bachelor's thesis during the spring of 2012, "Sociala medier i politik - En studie av hur svenska riksdagspartier använder social medier" [Social media in politics - A study of how Swedish political parties are using social media]. Meri chose to interview members of the parliament and she concentrated on two political parties; Moderaterna and Sverigedemokraterna. She got hold of seven politicians and interviewed four of them in their offices in the parliament (the remaining three answered the same questions by mail). Meri's thesis is unfortunately not available on the Internet as she was one of the last students to hand in a thesis in a now-defunct program.

Some years ago (in 2010), I wrote a Swedish-language blog post/thesis proposal called "Den gröna blogosfären" [The green blogosphere] where I suggest thesis topics on mapping the green (environmental) blogosphere in Sweden. Any particular part of the blogosphere (green or otherwise) could be mapped in a variety of different ways and it is of course also possible to have a look at some other part of the blogosphere such as the political blogosphere, the sport or literature blogosphere etc. It is furthermore of course not necessary to look at blogs - any other online space could be of interest to map.

I hope that some students will take the opportunity to write a thesis about social media and politics this coming spring. Based on earlier experiences, a good, topical and timely political-social media-thesis definitely has the opportunity to make it into mainstream media (or at least a press release from KTH).

fredag 15 november 2013

Competency based methods for recruiting ph.d. students

I went to an extended lunch seminar earlier this week about "competency based recruiting". The focus of the seminar was on using competency based methods for recruiting ph.d. students in an academic context. This was the second of three lectures in a series about this topic and the speaker was Maln Lindelöw of Lindelöw & Partners. Two of my colleagues went to the first seminar and thought it was great.

The starting point is that many traditional tools for selecting a person for a job - such as documents of different kinds (CV, cover letters etc.) or job interviews - aren't that good. There's actually scientific research supporting that statement. Years of education or years of work experience say very little about future work performance. The best methods are instead structured and/or competency based interviews, work samples and ability tests.

The seminar was partly a brainstorming exercise for coming up with methods for eliciting suitable work samples in an academic context and for building cheating-proofed recruitin processes. The first step in the process though is to determine what skills and (personal, social, intellectual, leadership) abilities are most important for the job/position in question.

I was selected as a ph.d. student partly based on my bacholor's/master's thesis. A better idea would be to ask each applicant to top the thesis off by also submitting a 2-3 pages long letter where they judge the merits and the weaknesses of their own thesis. Perhaps their reflections about what they would have done different had they started to write that thesis today (i.e. lessons learned) are just as interesting as the thesis itself?

Let's say there is space for a ph.d. student in a research project that has just started. Why not send over the original research grant application and ask the applicant to (in a limited amount of time) write up a specification for the master's thesis they themselves would have liked to have done in that project. That would test many things at the same time, including what their own skills and interests are. It's also a good task as it doesn't test things they will learn in the future (as a ph.d. student), but rather things they should have learned as a master's student. You could even add another layer onto the task by setting up a 15-minute appointment (say a Skype meeting) where you give some feedback and suggestions on their master's thesis specification and ask them to (in a limited amount of time) send back an updated version after they have received feedback on their first attempt. That could also weed out having someone "help you out" with the original specification a little too much.

The thing about competency based recruitment is to think a little deeper about what the prospective ph.d will do and about the skills and abilities that are important in this project (or at this department or for you as an advisor) and then think about ways to test these important skills and abilities. Less emphasis can be placed on formal documents or references - and every recruitment process could (or should?) be customized (and different).

Perhaps best of all was that my colleagues Mario and Eva-Lotta also were at the same seminar. That means I have sparring partners to bounce ideas with should I go from theory to practice and need to recruit a ph.d. student.

söndag 10 november 2013

Books I've read recently

"Books I've read recently" is a recurring topic and here is the previous blog post (same topic, different books). Below are books that I read back in May and June this year. Two of the three books below relate to "future studies". 

Herman Daly is one of the founding fathers of ecological economics. His book "Beyond growth: The economics of sustainable development" (1996) is a collection of 15 shorter texts and articles that have been divided into seven different parts. These parts have titles such as "International trade and sustainable development", "Population and sustainable development" and "Ethics, religion, and sustainable development". The book is excellent and has a much higher concentration of powerful ideas per page than most other books. his ideas about the (environmentally) detrimental effects of (too much) international trade are for example novel to me. 

"the United States imports Danish butter cookies, and the Danes import U.S. butter cookies. Somewhere on or above the North Atlantic the cookies pass each other. Surely the gains from trading such similar products cannot be large. But regardless of their size, could not these gains be had more efficiently simply by exchanging recipes?"

I have also never ever before heard anyone argue for thinking seriously about restricting immigration and closing off borders in the name of social sustainability and so as to not encourage a "race to the bottom" that only benefits the very richest in society. I think the following argument is hard to swallow for many modern enlightened persons, but I think it deserves to be heard (which is patently not happening today):

"Humanitarian advocates for the poor [illegal immigrants] often argue that they only take menial jobs that Americans would not take, and therefore cause no harm. I wish it were that simple. But the reason no American will take such jobs is that competition from illegals has lowered wages and working conditions below the acceptable minimum standards. Many American used to work their way though college at menial jobs because those jobs paid enough. Now that is not the case and students have to go into debt instead. Alternatively it is argues that the U.S. unemployed are just not qualified for the new jobs generated by our economy, and therefore qualified immigrants are needed. But if those qualified immigrants were not available we would invest more in raising the quality of skills among our own unemployed."

As a correlative to the term "underdeveloped countries", Daly suggest that the term "overdeveloped country" should be attributed to any country "whose level of per capita resource consumption is such that if generalized to all countries could not be sustained indefinitely". Spot on! 

Daly even delivers persuasive arguments that could be used in the struggle over intellectual property rights in our present age of infinitely replicable information (texts, music, movies, games etc.). Daly's point is that current IP laws are quite arbitrary and probably don't even serve their purported social and economic purposes any longer:

"Might there not be a better way to reward creators of knowledge? Prizes? Grants? High salaries? Something that does not require that knowledge be kept artificially scarce? Knowledge is so largely a social product in any case that it is quite arbitrary and unjust to give property rights for minor applications of basic knowledge but not for the discovery of basic knowledge itself. Do the genetic engineers, eager to patent new organisms, share their royalties with Watson and Crick? [...] The early Swiss economist Sismondi noted that inventions motivated by a desire to serve mankind are less likely to be socially destructive than inventions motivated by the desire for personal enrichment. [...] Yet free traders emphasize the importance of strengthening intellectual property rights and making knowledge less and less "the common property of mankind." Their argument is that unless new knowledge is kept expensive there will not be sufficient incentive to produce more of it. But even granting considerable force to that point, I am still inclined to favor the hypothesis that the benefit of rapid sharing of the knowledge we now have is greater than the cost of any consequent risk of slowing the creation of new knowledge. [...] Of all things, knowledge and information are what should flow most freely across national boundaries, and especially form North to South. yet this is what today's free traders least want to be free."

It is ironic that my first acquaintance with Daly, and excellent 2008 New Scientist article called "Economics blind spot is a disaster for the planet" is locked up behind a paywall... You can read the first three paragraphs for free, but you have to pay to read the rest... The book is excellent though.

"Bilder av framtidsstaden: Tid och rum för hållbar utveckling" (2007) is, sort of, the end result/final report from a large research project called HUSUS, or "Households and urban structures in sustained cities". One of the appendices contains a list of all the reports that have been published in the research project and contains no less than 45 reports published between 1997-2004 by 24 different (first) authors. The 500 pages long book itself consists of 30 chapters and 5 appendices that have been written by (different constellations of) 14 authors and under the auspices of the three editors (Anders Gullberg, Mattias Höjer, Ronny Pettersson). The book has been translated into English - "Images of the future city: Time and space for sustainable development" - but it is unfortunately prohibitively expensive

The book consists of four parts; 1) starting points, 2) building blocks, 3) images of the future and 4) perspectives on the images of the future. In the second part of the book, building blocks, three different areas are explored:
   - Urban structures (i.e. "room"/space)
   - Household action patterns and time use (i.e. time)
   - Efficiency in terms of different ways of using energy (i.e. technology)

The reason I read this book is very instrumental. I'm working in a research project that Mattias Höjer (one of the editors) leads and it borrows/replicates some of the structures and ideas from the HUSUS research project. There is also an overlap in terms of research methods (future studies etc.) but not at all in terms of personnel with the exception of Mattias himself. 

The decision to read this book had very much to do with "work" and very little with "leisure". Some parts were (instrumentally) good for me to read and some other parts were interesting. I especially liked the chapter about "time and consumption". Since the concrete images of the future city primarily are images of a future Stockholm, I also learned a lot about (the history of) the city I live in.

I read Karl Henrik Dreborg's Ph.D. thesis "Scenarios and structural uncertainty: Explorations in the field of sustainable transport (2004) for the same reason I read the book above. I learned more about futures research, which was good, but it would be a lie if I said it was pleasurable. I try to make sure that around one book in ten that I read is a Ph.D. thesis.

onsdag 6 november 2013

UC Irvine next!

In previous blog posts I've none-to-subtly hinted that this autumn has been very busy, with me teaching two different courses as well as myself attending a course in research supervision. Another reason this has been a busy autumn is due to the fact that me and my wife will go on a sabbatical and live in the US during the spring. We will more specifically live in Irvine, California - an hour's drive south of Los Angeles and an hour's drive north of San Diego (and the Mexican border)

So, what's in Irvine? Well, the University of California at Irvine (UCI) is there and we will be affiliated with the Department of Informatics at the School of Information & Computer Sciences (ICS). What especially draws me to UCI is the fact that Bill Tomlinson and Donald Patterson, who have done work on "collapse informatics", are there (c.f. "Collapse informatics: Augmenting the Sustainability and ICT4D discourse in HCI" - presented at the CHI 2012 conference (pdf here)). Bonnie Nardi is also there and have been known to work will Bill and Don on these issues. I have an invitation from Bill and Don and Tessy has an invitation from Bonnie. I reached out to Bill and Don during the spring, and received a formal invitation to visit them and their respective research groups. "Their groups" are Bill's Social Code Group (SCG) and Don's Laboratory for Ubiquitous Computing and Interaction (LUCI) at ICS.

Bill, Don and Bonnie (together with Debra Richardson) have all been involved in the creation of the just-approved RiSCIT center at UCI, "The Center for Research in Sustainability, Collapse-preparedness and IT" and I will most probably also be affiliated with that center in some way. One of the goals of RiSCIT is to "Provide a central focus for research on the role of informatics and computing in supporting the transition to sustainability and addressing the potential to prepare for civilization-scale collapse". Other goals of the center is to attract funding for research projects and to maintain and increase national and international visibility and "differentiate our research group from others conducting research on sustainability and computing".

Me and Tessy have worked hard since the summer to overcome a large number of practical issues that are associated with an extended stay abroad such as getting visas, getting health insurance for us and our children, renting out our apartment, finding somewhere to live in Irvine and finding a local school for our children (very complicated). I think that almost all of the big things are fixed now and it's really hard to see any possible show-stoppers ahead of us - I can only see practical problems at this point in time. We just ordered the airline tickets and are negotiating the very last details in the contract for the house we will rent in Irvine (the owners are academics and will be on a sabbatical of their own). We will live right next to the university campus and less than a 10 minute walk from the School of Information & Computer Science.

The whole point of going on a sabbatical is to create the conditions and to free up the time to meet new people, to get new impressions and for doing things that you usually don't (have time to) do at home. I've been thinking some about how I will use my time in the US. I will not work full time, but here is my current work-related "wish list" of things I would like to have done when I come home to Sweden next summer:

- Write academic papers (I hava a number of them in the pipe).
- Spend quality time reading books and articles.
- Work with two sets of data (interviews) that I haven't had time to transcribe and analyze yet.
- Work in a research project I'm involved in (at a distance).
- Hopefully work on another research project (if the application is granted) or on some other, smaller research project(s) (if we get the money).
- At the end of the spring term I will need to spend some time preparing for my autumn 2014 courses.
- Last but not least I will of course also participate in UCI academic life and interact (especially) with RiSCIT and with Bill and Don's research groups.

The list list above summarizes work-related things/tasks that I would like to have done when I return to Sweden next summer. What actually gets done is an open question. It's hard to gauge how much time I will spend working and how efficient and goal-oriented I will be when I work, but you will of course be able to read all about it here on the blog. No matter if I'm here or there, my ambition with this blog will be the same as ever and I expect to continue to post a minimum of one and a maximum of two blog posts per week also during the spring.

Any questions or comments? Please pose them below!

måndag 4 november 2013

Blog week accomplished

I set a goal for myself a week ago and that was to write a blog post every day of the week this past week. Last week was my first-ever "blog week".

There were a couple of reasons for this decision of mine:
- There are so many things I have done lately, but doing all those things have also precluded me from being able to take the time to write about them.
- I didn't want to push them forward and probably eventually not write about the majority of these things.
- After a seriously heavy period of teaching, it looked like last week was pretty empty in my calendar.

I have indeed accomplished this goal and I have published a new blog post every day during the previous week. The October blog count (13 blog posts written) will probably not be surpassed for a very long time.

The lack of meetings in my calendar has unfortunately not been matched by the opportunity to decrease the pace at work. All the things that have been put aside for a month has become urgent and so I have had to write more or less every blog post late at night. That is unfortunate and it has been a little stressful. I will for sure think twice before I promise to pull off another "blog week" but I'm happy to have done it. Should I do another blog week, it would probably be a great idea to already have begun a couple of blog posts beforehand or even to have a few finished blog posts waiting in line to decrease the pressure some...

söndag 3 november 2013

Research supervision course

I've hinted a couple to times on the blog that I have been very busy this autumn and beyond the two courses I've taught (Future of Media, Sustainability and Media Technology), I have also myself been a student (of sorts) since I'm taking a course called "Research supervision":

"The course [...] is customized for research supervisors at KTH" and we work through a lot of different themes in the course:
- The framework for postgraduate education
- The quality of postgraduate education
- The craft of supervision
- Leadership - fostering independent researchers
- Gender and cultural diversity
- Leadership and relationships
- Supporting the development of researcher skills
- Ethics and completion
- Reflections on supervision

Each theme above corresponds to one of the nine meetings in the course (the course started in September and it ends in December). The course is meant to support teachers/researchers in their ph.d. supervision efforts:

"The overarching objective of the course is to provide you with tools for a more reflective approach to research supervsion. In the course you will get acquainted with rules and literature, you will meet lecturers, guests and a number of peers and colleagues. Together they represent valuable resouces in the form of rules, science and experience. Your assignment is to mirror all these aspects and reflect on them in order to determine your own conscious and reflective way of supervising in the context of KTH and your own research area."

During the first meeting in the course I was handed a book (course literature) for free, "How to get a PhD: A handbook for students and their supervisors" (Phillips & Pugh, 2010). While I have read all the other articles as part of the preparations for our meetings, I have to admit I haven't opened the book yet - but I promise I plan to read it from start to finish!

In mid-October we all went away on a two-day retreat where we treated and completed three of the nine themes in the course. I will attend the seventh meeting in the course this coming week and I hope I will eventually be able to pass the course even though I have realized I will miss the very last course meeting (and the attendance requirements are draconian).

There is quite a lot to read in the course and we typically also have to complete an assignment before each meeting, but the main purpose of the course is, I guess, to discuss and reflect upon own and others' experiences as well as common challenges when supervising ph.d. students. By attending the course I'm also developing my networks and contacts with other teachers/researchers at KTH. That's nice since it's very easy to work at KTH without ever meeting or interacting with people from schools other than my own (The School of Computer Science and Communication, CSC).

The assignment for this week's meeting is the most arduous yet. I had to interview two experienced supervisors and then add my own reflections (1-2 pages of text) about the strategies they use to "shape" their ph.d. students into independent researchers. The task was on the other has pleasurable as it forced me to interview two colleagues and have a nice chat with them about stuff we don't usually talk about. The course gives you a reason and a pass to go out of the way and do things you usually don't.

While the course is valuable and perhaps even fun, I can't stop wishing that I had taken it this past spring when I had more time. It is what it is though and the course has (unfortunately) been one more reason for this autumn having been very busy this far.

lördag 2 november 2013

"Future of News / News of the Future" projects


The students in my course "Future of Media" formed 10 project groups almost three weeks ago. From having been a course with lots of guest lectures and seminars, the students are now for the most part working independently and they are taking this year's theme "The Future of News / News of the Future" in 10 different directions. Which directions? These directions!

- Future of Ads ("Not intrusive but exclusive")
- ScreenWorld - Rise of the Second Screen ("Breaking into the future")
- GISMO - Geographical Information Systems for Media Orientation (was Interactive visualization of news) ("Get a grip on global news")
- The Morticians (was Death of Reading) ("Quality news beyond the written word")
- Gossip (was News aggregators) ("Emotional news")
- You've got bias (was Manipulation and bias online and offline) ("Everything is biased - we show you how")
- Responsive news (was Individualized news) ("Have it your way")
- Crowdopolis (was Citizen journalism & crowdsourcing news) ("We live it, we watch it, we report it")
- DEAFining news (was Broadcast new/public news) ("DEAFining the future of news")
- Newsify (was The future of audio) ("Get serious - Get Newsified")

We will set up a website pretty soon where these projects will present themselves (same as we did last year). They have already now submitted images and short descriptions (that might be updated). One example is the Death of Reading image above and this is (currently) the summary/pitch for that project:

"Since the 15th century, when the printing press was invented, the literacy rate has risen, and today it is one of the Universal declarations of human rights. In the 21st century something happened: People started to send text messages, to use Twitter and other social media. These changes resulted in declining willingness to write and read among society, and this new paradigm is just the beginning. In the next 10-15 years we will witness the most dramatic change in the world of news, when written news no longer exits."

Above is another example of an image, and below are the summaries/pitches for the project groups ScreenWorld and You've got bias:

ScreenWorld pitch:
"The increase in mobile technologies and decrease in attention spans has caused new habits to form when people consume their media. One screen is no longer enough, so a second screen has emerged into our routine. The second screen trend is gaining popularity in entertainment media, but what does that mean for news? We hope to provide a framework based on qualitative and quantitative analysis of the current trend on how to increase the use of the second screen for news of the future."

You've got bias pitch:
"In the future there will be even more news sources where corporations and personal news channels will compete to break news. How can we as readers trust what we read when the publisher is unknown? "You've got Bias" is an automated system that will analyze news in real time to:
- Connect relevant data about the author with the news-iten.
- Put then news-iten in context to other articles on the same story.
Thanks to "You've got bias" I can finally decide for myself what news I want to believe in."

I very much look forward to the mid-term presentations this coming Friday when the 10 groups will present their ideas and try to convince me (head teacher), Malin (assistant teacher) and Åke, Milad and Ola (guests/jury) of the merits of their ideas as well as where they plan to take their projects. The students will present their finished projects at the end of the term (Thursday Dec 12 at 13-16) and the presentation will be open to the public. You are welcome to attend and I will (same as last year) get back with an invitation and more info about the final presentation later.

fredag 1 november 2013

Future of Media 2013 line-up

My project course DM2571 "Future of Media" went though a phase shift two weeks ago when we moved from the start-up phase to the project phase of the course. This time last year I took the opportunity to write a blog post that listed all the great guest lecturers we had heard in the course. I'm doing it again. 

We change the theme in the course every year and this year's theme is "The Future of News / News of the Future". Last year's theme was "The Future of Magazines / Magazines of the Future".

Below is the 2013 line-up of our (no less than 19!) great guests lectures. Ten different student project groups will present their visions of the future in the form of a larger (250+ persons) public presentation (welcome!) between 13-16 in the lecture hall Q1 on Thursday December 12, 2013.

-------------------- Lectures --------------------

- Stefan Melesko, Associate Professor, Ph.D. in Media Economics. The International Business School at Jönköping University, "The challenges facing legacy media companies"

- Gunnar Springfeldt, Springfeldt Media AB, Ex-Vice President of Development at Stampen Media Group, "International trends in news"

- Sofie Abrahamsson, CEO trainee at Eniro and former KTH Media Technology student, "Local news in a flash - media houses, trends and classifieds"

- Lottis Bergson, Digital Director, IDG Sweden, "Changing business landscape of specialized media"

- Martin Jönsson, Deputy Director, Programs, Swedish Radio (SR), "Can you charge for content/quality?"

- Kerstin Pilhage, Director Business Development, The Swedish News Agency Group (TT Gruppen), "The challenge facing News Agencies in a changing media market"

- Ulf Johansson, Chief Editor News, Swedish Television, "Public service in the Future of News"

- Oscar Westlund, Associate Professor at the Department of Journalism, Media and Communication at the University of Gothenburg and the IT University of Copenhagen, "Mobile news consumption gaining traction"

- Halvard Kristiansen, Head of Behavioral Targeting, Schibsted/Web traffic, "Behavioral targeting and the future of ads"

- Ola Henriksson, Editorial project manager at Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) and Olle Zachrison, Business editor at Svenska Dagbladet, "Engage readers to contribute to the news"

- Nicklas Lundblad, Public Policy Advisor at Google, "Thamus dilemma - Truth and technology"

- Ambjörn Naeve, Senior researcher in Knowledge Management and Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL), head of the Knowledge Management Research group at the KTH/CSC and the KTH/ECE School, "From news to views: Mapping knowledge that connects the dots"

- Lars Wilderäng, author and blogger, "On being a personal news channel"

- Malin Picha Edwardsson, Ph.D. student in Media Technology, "Carbon footprint of news publishing"

Anna Swartling, Ph.D., Usability architect at Scania CV AB, "Project TEAM work"

We unfortunately had a few guests cancel their lectures, and there was one person I really would have wanted to listen to, but alas, in the end it turned out to be too difficult to get her to visit us. 

During the previous month, I have written one additional text on this blog that relates to the this year's Future of Media course: Handbook for project-based courses. Two more texts that I wrote last year is still however very relevant: - How should student project groups be put together? and Student project groups - ambitions and grades.