Nov 1, 2009

Interactive Multimedia Journalism: NY Time's 5-part series, "Held by the Taliban"

I came across a link to this information below  via the Innovative Interactivity blog:

-NY Times

David Rohde, a NY Times reporter, was travelling in Afghanistan to interview a Taliban commander when he was kidnapped with two Afghan colleagues on November 10, 2008.  He reported his story in traditional format, Held by the Taliban:  7 Months, 10 Days in Captivity  in print and on-line in a series that spanned over five days, along with an epilogue

I found that in just about 10 minutes,  the on-line multimedia version of the Rohde's story provided me with a deeper understanding of the complex nature of the conflicts in the region, as well as a sense of what what he might have felt during his long ordeal. 

Rohde tells the story through narrative, photographs, animated maps, video scenes of his experiences, propaganda-like content from the videos watched by young men of the Taliban, and a 3D representation of how his escape from captivity unfolded.The on-line interactive feature included five video clips, each corresponding to one of the articles of the series.  What I appreciated about the video clips was the opportunity to  view each of the video clips sequentially, or in an any order.   The animated maps provided a meaningful geographic context to the story, and the fact that the story was narrated by the author gave it a sense that the conflict in and around the Afghan region is immediate, real, and urgent.

Rohde's story continued with a Q & A on a NY Times blog, further enhancing the meaningfulness and life of the story.   Before the digital era, a story like this would have been thrown out with the paper, or watched by a few on a television news documentary, remembered by a handful of historians, and forgotten by most people. 

Interactive multimedia journalism provides a chance for readers/viewers/users a glimpse of history and culture related to the news story,  and also provides a means of documenting history-in-the-making for current and future generations.  

As I read Rohde's story, watched the video clips, and viewed related multimedia content, I thought about the  increase in the number of people who now access the internet, including the NY Times, from their mobile devices.  I wondered how story might be interpreted through the small screen, and also wondered how Rhode's multimedia story and others like it could be played out on  screens installed in public spaces.  

With some tweaking, this form of multi-media journalism could be accessed on large screens, or even touch-walls, in variety of locations.  Airports, trains, visitor centers, museums, libraries, and shopping malls come to mind as places where this might be useful.   Similar interactive screens are out there, such  the GoBoard digital concierge at the Courtyard Marriott, created by Four Winds Interactive using Microsoft's interactive technologies.

Figure 1. A GoBoard in a Courtyard by Marriott hotel lobby
-Mariott GoBoard, Microsoft

-Hard Rock Cafe's Memorabilia Wall, Engaget

Charlie Rose interview with David Rohde

Sensory-Mind's Ring Wall, an interactive multi-touch wall you don't even have to touch!
The Ring Wall is an interactive information display that looks like it could support an interactive multimedia news story.

The link above is to a post by Tracy Boyer, the author of the Innovative Interactivity blog, and discuss techniques that multimedia content producers can use to recreate past events, along with some examples.

Tracy Boyer's Blogroll
I'm sure that many of my readers will appreciate this list!

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