Glassed up

Posted on March 28th, 2014 by Bernie Russell

The University of Southern California is starting a course where students will learn to tell stories using augmented reality and Google Glass.

Journalists as techno trailblazers?
My first job-related thought: interesting; and course leader Robert Hernandez makes a good point when he says journalists have never been technology trailblazers (which is putting it mildly), but that “the industry has a chance for a head start with Glass”.

I spy with another little eye
My first non-job-related thought: Yay! more surveillance; just what I’ve always wanted.

The UK is already the most spied-on nation on the planet, with one surveillance camera for every eleven people (at least—this piece is dated 2013).

Yes, I know there’s  difference between being spied on by the state and being spied on by journalists.

But I’d just as soon not be spied on by anyone, to tell the truth.

Spies ‘R’ already us
There’s nothing new about journalists using surveillance technology, as we found out during the Leveson inquiry.

But do tools like Google Glass take it to a new level?

Should we be so keen to add these new surveillance tools—cheap and getting cheaper; more pervasive; and more suited to fishing trips, rather than targeted news-gathering—to our toolkit?

Droning on
Journalism schools in the US are already running courses on using new-gathering drones to find stories.

(Though not over Deer Trail, Colorado, where residents last year wanted to issue licences to shoot down drones flying over their air space;  the plan has been postponed while a spoilsport court decides whether it’s legal.)

And there’s a strong argument that as more sectors use technology like this, it makes no sense for journalism to be left behind.

All in all, I’d say this is clearly an issue that should go to our ethics classes before it reaches our production workshops.

My own view:

  • Google Glass: don’t make a spectacle of yourself; or anyone else.
  • Drones: I’m with the good people of Deer Trail, Colorado: if it flies, it dies.

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