Professor Andrew DeVigal, Chair of Journalism Innovation and Civic Engagement in the UO School of Journalism and Communications, shared his broad vision of the trends shaping the future of media and communication, as well as a review of the technological developments that have brought us to this point.
Professor DeVigal, who has held multimedia positions with the Chicago Tribune, Poynter Institute and The New York Times, began with a review of the evolution of the Internet in conjunction with his own education and career, a span that stretches from the early days of “Web 1.0” in the early 1990s to what is known as the “Semantic Web” in the modern era. In that time, the internet has grown from a rudimentary means of communication to a quasi-intelligent system of interconnected devices.
DeVigal identified three trends influencing the media landscape: the “Internet of Things”, the tendency of technology to be immersive and continuous, and the concept of the “Semantic Web”.
The Internet of Things refers to networked devices that use the Internet as a part of their inherent functionality, such as the line of home management products produced by Nest.
Using clips from the film Minority Report, DeVigal discussed the second trend, the tendency of technology to become immersive and continuous; in other words, technology will become seamlessly integrated into our daily lives. DeVigal cited as an example the purchase by Facebook of the virtual reality company Oculus Rift, and the use of its goggles in immersive journalism by Nonny de la Peña.
Finally, DeVigal explored the rise of the “Semantic Web”, whereby the Internet becomes so sophisticated that multiple data points are assembled to aid (or control) humans without prompting. Eventually, he said, we won’t even be conscious of the technology running in the background all around us, much as we’re barely aware of the electricity upon which we depend each day. Striking an ominous tone, DeVigal pointed out the implications for surveillance and privacy. He concluded his formal remarks by quoting the late Jim Morrison: “Whoever controls the media controls the mind.”