The interface as mediator

Digital Art and Aesthetics by Umberto Roncoroni
Digital Art and Aesthetics by Umberto Roncoroni (photo of the cover by me)

Umberto Roncoroni:

The interface is a mediation between the desire and the imagination of the user and all the tools one might need and the actual functions of the software, which are limited.

—  Digital Art and Aesthetics: Studies and criticism from Latin America

The above is my translation. Here’s the original Spanish (let me know if you have any suggestions for improvement):

La interfaz es una mediación entre el deseo y la imaginación del usuario y todas las herramientas que se podrían al respecto necesitar y las funciones reales de software, que son limitadas.

— Arte y Estética Digital: Estudios y críticas desde Latinoamérica

Journalism as a software application

Let’s say journalism — as a concept — is a software application. Software is a set of instructions that tells a computer what to do and how to do it. To make this comparison, I’ll use WordPress.

Journalism is a tool to be used, both by those who practice it and those who engage with it.

Journalism is inherently interdisciplinary, both in the subjects it covers and how those subjects are covered.

Journalism can applied to any subject, or theme. There are some basic themes you can start with and modify. Child themes can be derived from parent themes; for example, online learning as a child theme of education.

Journalism has core features. Research, reporting, verification, creation and more.

Journalism has more advanced functionality you could call plugins. These can improve the process or the product (here, meaning outcome). Analysis, visualization and feedback/participation mechanisms, for example. Sometimes that functionality gets incorporated into core.

The point is not to make an arbitrary comparison. And, yes, some of these comparisons are apples to oranges.

The point is to think more abstractly both about the concept of journalism and about journalism concepts. The basic ideas. The individual pieces. The fundamentals.

Journalism should be seen as a modular platform that we can customize, develop and improve.

Journalism is an open-source framework constantly in development.

No one owns journalism. No one controls journalism. Anyone can implement it. Anyone can fork it. Anyone can hack at its core.

What are you developing?

Update: I changed “practice” to “concept” in the first line. I think that’s more the frame I was looking for, as indicated by the 8th paragraph.

Steve Jobs’ legacy and a lesson

A few minutes ago — a few hours after news of Steve Jobs’s death became public — I tweeted the following:

Steve Jobs’ greatest legacy is not the products he created, but what they enabled and who they inspired.

Soon after that, I thought of a lesson for journalism: we shouldn’t focus so much on what we do as much as what we enable, who we impact and what comes from all that. Continue reading Steve Jobs’ legacy and a lesson

Rushkoff challenges Gleick’s idea

Browsing my Google Reader on Sunday, I found a Q&A on Wired with Douglas Rushkoff discussing Program or be Programmed, a book I’d recommend to everyone.

Now before you leave because you don’t care about programming (you should care) or you think this will be too technical (it’s not), I need to clarify that the book is not so much about computer programming as it is about the more general concept of programming, plus understanding the biases of digital technology. As Rushkoff says, you either use the software or you are the software; you’re either the passenger or the driver, but not necessarily the mechanic. Continue reading Rushkoff challenges Gleick’s idea