Monday, May 6, 2013

Spotting Future Trends - - - Things are going to change

After a busy week I was surfing in front of the old TV and started watching an interview with Daniel Burrus about his new book Flash Foresight. His specialty is predicting the future, and claims to be better than most. He showed the audience how they could make predictions, polling them on whether they computers would get smaller and more powerful. Everyone said yes.

Film days by J.G. Domke 1974
He made some interesting points on how the desktop computer evolved, but is it getting obsoleted by the cellphone?

No, these tools are just getting "re-purposed."

Burrus calls this a "soft trend," where the roles change. Which then I relate to the horse and carriage, the automobile didn't kill off horses. In some parts of the world they're still a daily part of life, but in the US they've evolved to be a hobby, recreation and a sport. Not work. This is a soft trend of the 20th century.

A "hard trend" is how video tape and the 8-track tapes have been replaced by DVDs and the Internet. They "can't be changed," says Burrus so they disappear from daily life. 

This makes me, the journalist, start thinking about media. I wonder will print newspapers go the way of the VHS tape? Will all books be eBooks?

I predict the large coffee table books will survive, they are art, they are portfolios and a record of life to preserve. No batteries, they capture history. I predict they will be more expensive, but still be printed on paper. However, a lot of books and magazines will be online only.

Where do newspapers fit? I've thought for years that the old daily newspaper printed on paper should go back to a weekly paper, like the Sunday Times of London. Reporting on the past week local, state and national stories, along with previews of the coming week. A leisurely way to spend a Sunday breakfast reading articles in the Sunday paper. (After spending the rest of the week staring at a computer screen.) We need to be aware of what's happening around us, the facts not gossip. A weekly paper will do this. 


So what about the photo?  I watched how newspapers went from Linotype to offset. From Black and White to Color. Word journalists reluctantly gave up newspaper space to the photo because they felt it pulled readers into reading the story, pulled people into buying the newspaper off the news stand. Color caught their eye better than B/W. So as we evolve to the Internet it is the video that keeps viewers on the page. Smaller photos, but you need to scroll over and click on the picture to see it bigger!? Who has time to take the trouble to do that? Still photos are clip art.

Slide shows of 40 plus photos all the same size, good photos mixed up with so-so photos of the same thing? Where is the editor?

As an in print newspaper photographer, I cover the event and then edit it down to one or two of the best shots. Looking for photos that told the story!

The whole idea was to capture the story. In sports it was get a great photo of the player who scored the winning touchdown doing something amazing. (That was the goal anyway.) I always was striving to get the who-what-where-how in one single shot. I liked the challenge of getting one photo that told the story. Let the words fill in the details around the photo.

I liked the picture page in magazines and newspapers we picked a main picture. Ran it big. A headline pulled you to look at the main photo and then 3 or 5 other photos filled in with detail shots. Close-ups of people, maybe an overall view, photos of things that supported the main photo. The layout took in eye-flow. Hopefully guiding the viewer in a proper sequence. There were also captions under photo and a brief story. 

A picture page told the story better in pictures than words!

I see the slide show best used when showing the top ten this or that. It isn't a picture story. 

In his Fort Worth Star-Telegram column Bob Ray Sanders comments on the future of newspapers and journalism. For him paper or online is the same, it is opinions from blogger versus journalistic reporting.

Journalists find the Internet a great tool for research, they find sources and can verify what actually happened. But the viewer doesn't take the time to be a reporter. They just take everything as fact.
Photo by J.G. Domke - Color or b/w?

So what does this say about the future? Burrus defined "crisis management" as being forced the change. 

We are flooded with information and what we need now are editors. Photo editors, word editors to verify and get to the real story.

Video works, it tells the story. 

But you still have to admit that a BLACK AND WHITE photo of the event lets you study the surroundings, see what really happened.

Watching change the B/W news photo needs a place. I think the Boston Bombing photos needed to be black and white. Color is a distraction. Make it bigger! Gray scale file is smaller so the bigger photo will load just as fast as a small color photo. Edit down to just photos that add information. Just like the word reporters are writing shorter stories, pictures are important to telling the story.

But we are going from 17" laptop screens to 7" tablets. More reason to have a bigger photo. No photo? Just video? A still photo that tells a story is a quick read and helps viewers know/study what happened. This works for news, but will features just be told with video.

I wonder where the still photo will be in the future.

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(In my family I also use to try to pick up the roll of film from the drugstore and edit it down before I got home. My wife always found some detail in every photo and wanted to keep them all. Fewer photos focused on the event and made the memories inside your head come back.)