Introducing OtherWorld: The nearest news to you now
“A city is more than a place in space, it is a drama in time.”
announcing our latest project...
I’ve seen the future of news.
Truth be told, this is misleading. I believe news has many futures.
Some people will still enjoy newsprint. Just as they do today. For a lot of people it’s the feeling of paper in their hands. For others, it’s the freedom to dictate their own reading experience. That could be front to back or back to front. Skim reading or getting lost in supplements. Or simply choosing cherished time away from a screen.
Some people will want news they can dip and in out of online. Snacking on tabloids for scandals. Visiting broadsheets for reportage and analysis. Turning on Vice TV for a gonzo view of emerging issues. Or Twitter for heated debates. A balanced news diet requires many food groups.
Some will want to add their own commentary and share it to their networks. We all like to have an opinion if we can and be seen to be adding something to a subject. (you are reading this on Medium after all!)
Some will seek to remain within their bubble. Others regularly drift beyond it, if only so they can report back on their contrarian discoveries.
Some people will avoid news altogether. Skipping channels and muting keywords. Some with take a longer leave of absence. Detoxing and retoxing when the mood fits.
The reality is that most people will do all of the above. Media habits are increasingly unpredictable. Which makes for an unpredictable future for the news industry. Working across many sectors, I find change and disruption to be incredibly exciting. The problem is that very few news organisations find comfort amongst the chaos.
Another future for news: Introducing the concept of ‘Living media’
I believe there’s one area of news that’s still being overlooked: On-the-go local news.
I’m talking about news that stops you in your tracks in the street and feeds you stories relevant to your current location. News that breathes new life into the world immediately around you and adds something special to your day. News that is free from the treadmill of traditional news cycles and sources of revenue. News that you feel compelled to act upon.
This kind of news doesn’t rely on an app to be pre-installed or social network loaded up. It doesn’t need to resort to clickbait to trick people into reading it. Living media is so different (yet radically simple) that it has no competition.
Say ‘hello’ to beacon technology and our experimental news project, OtherWorld.
So, what’s it all about?
In short, OtherWorld is trialling a highly agile and contextual type of news built for mobile. We’re calling these ‘moments’.
These will be serendipitous experiences that are easy for newsrooms to produce and distribute right to the very location those stories happen. Once its there they won’t stand still. They can be tested, updated and replaced at the press of a button. They can change with time of day, the weather and even footfall. In a nutshell: fluid news serving fluid communities.
It will do all of this using Google’s proximity technology Eddystone (we’re fortunate to have the backing of Google’s Digital News Initiative to put our ideas to the test). Many sectors have woken up to the potential of beacons and are doing some interesting things in the space, however it’s relatively uncharted territory in news. We think it’s a potential game changer.
No longer do users need an app to interact with your beacons and content. Gone are the days when stories are devoured without an accompanying real-world experience. The secure EID format also addresses privacy concerns.
We’re experimenting at very beginning of the technology. Whilst it won’t change the world overnight, we’re excited to offer a new experience to readers and test a new storytelling platform for newsrooms. And I’ll make sure we share lots as we go.
When and where is this happening?
We’re piloting in Manchester (UK) from Summer to Winter 2017.
How can I keep up-to-date?
From there you can follow the project or, even better, get involved. We’re interested to hear from anyone with a story to tell (including local businesses, charities, community groups, PR agencies, event organisers, and more).
We’re also having a meetup for potential users in April to hear more and help shape the service.