Month: June 2014

News on paper or online?


I keep on repeating, article after article, on this blog, the concept of the “new web”, how this is a phenomenon much wider than all of us succeed in perceiving today, a dimension, a space, which will change the customs of this century. In a previous article, I have used some statistics in order to describe better this change which, in short, confirms that many of us are “always online” and that this “cyber presence” will continue to grow as far as involving everyone. The numbers give us important indications but, in my opinion, they don’t succeed in representing concretely the change. Much more is needed, therefore I would like to highlight, with the help of a real confrontation, what was “before” and what is “after“, the “real” and the “virtual“.
To do this I have analyzed an area of great interest where the two models, the descriptive sequential one of the 20th century cohabit daily with the new model, visual, fast and interactive of this 21st century, therefore of our times.
Last Monday I bought a papery copy of one of the most important Italian daily newspaper, and that is “Corriere della Sera”, and I read every single page, and soon after the same day, I browsed the version online of the same daily newspaper taking also some screen shots.
To my astonishment the two versions have very little in common. The papery version has a page structure on vertical columns, nine columns differently positioned with six main articles that continue within the newspaper and other six titles corresponding to articles also present inside the newspaper.
On the first “papery” page we find nine images, among these we find a cartoon and, in the four angles, small and middle advertising inserts. We find the same scheme the following pages, mostly characterized by long texts, with an average of two or three images (and some extra image on the sport page, it is Monday after all). The advertising is set aside in big “showcase-pages” made ad hoc.
The symbols used are only a few and the “infographic” elements are practically absent except for the page devoted to weather.
I think, considering the topics raised, the space devoted to football and motorbikes as well as the publicity offered, that this newspaper is oriented toward a predominantly male over 40 audience.
Let’s give a quick look to the version online! The first consideration is related to the contents, they are way different, the version online is updated, the dematerialized information can be updated at every moment, this is why the online site brings today’s news and the papery version yesterday’s news. The main news are all different, which is no small thing. The second difference stays in the number of the contents offered, the web page has an indefinite length and it is opportunely divided in horizontal areas, thing that imposes a certain visual order allowing an easy reading on horizontal sections, from left to right. There are dozens and dozens of articles. I counted the images and only on the homepage they are 142, I remind you that the papery version had only nine and almost all of them in small format.
On the version online they are more articles but shorter, many of them I wouldn’t even consider them as articles, but rather news. Their structure is rather simple and the terms used are basic, sometimes even elementary.
The page contains lots of interactive elements, slide showcases, photo gallery like “Photo story”, videos. Considering the high-level of innovation reached, personally, I would increase the use of the hypertexts, especially the hipertextual weave among the articles.
Paradoxically, the version online, though having much more contains and images, results simpler to visualize, browse and read, in some cases so simple and immediate to seem even banal compared to the “structured” papery version.
My tone in this comparison is deliberately simple, we are on a blog, even if, to say the truth, for an instant I have had the temptation to analyze the “wireframe” or rather the graphic model of design and communication on which the two daily papers are based on.
Seeing the different morphology of the “two daily papers” I’m inclined to believe that the audience is created by different types of people. The version online is oriented to young people and “medium” young people who use internet every day, and therefore who look for a quick reading as well as the latest news and who often choose on the strength of the visual impact due to the terms used and the images provided. The papery version is more reflective, for a less reactive audience, probably more cultured and less frantic.
The papery articles follow the tradition of the “printed paper” , they propose conjectures and showan analytical context. They have a sequential and progressive line.
The articles online are easy and immediate. Most probably the editorial office online is composed by different resources compared with the papery version. Maybe it has different work schedules, always active working on news in brief in contrast to the papery editorial office, more reflective and characterized by the “daily delivery.”
To put it in a nutshell, we have two types of audience, two editorial offices and two ways of operating the information. The splitting between real dimension and virtual dimension becomes more evident when we talk about the journalistic information. Two ways of spreading information, two excellences situated in two different universes, each of them with its rules and its audience.
In conclusion I would like to pay tribute to the “page footer” of the web version where we can find indicated various blogs and forum, a modern and dynamic version from which we cannot leave out of consideration the new ways of communication along with the new tools. My compliments go to the editors online who decided to make such a visionary choice transforming journalists into bloggers and bloggers into journalists.
Returning to the opening question, I consider absolutely anachronistic the diatribe between the information online and the real information, therefore also between the papery information and the information online. They are two complementary universes characterized by different dynamics of use, different services and, often, different audience. The auspice which closes this article stays in the hope that this difference would help to growa plural and well informed society.



LEGO bricks and 2.0 web communities

Often real situations and virtual situations end up by influencing each other and each of them activates behaviors, countermeasures, attitudes, beginning with impulses from the “other space”, whether real or cyber.
The case I am about to introduce you is certainly one of these, but before giving you the details, a short encyclopedic premise is needed.
The definition of community offered by garzanti’s dictionary is a little bit archaic but very clear: “a group of people who lives on the same territory or who has origins, traditions, ideas or common interests.”
The community represents one of the main elements of development in human history. Belonging to a group conceded the safeguarding of our species as well as its evolution. The sharing of perceptions, intuitions, tools, etc permitted us to improve ourselves, to create new and more complex social models and life styles. The confrontation gave energy to our ideas, we explained ourselves, even if sometimes we offended each other, in the end we stood up for each other, we built and improved our habitat, we refined our tools and our lives.
We belong to a community, we have ideas, traditions and common interests and thanks to this physical proximity as well as to the same thought and language we stay united and, consequently, become better each day.
The virtual community, “made” online, has analogous characteristics. It mixes interests, opinions, people and actions. Those people who belong to a community feel they have “something” in common.
I know I repeat myself, but I have to remind our readers how web, as an open system, permits each of us to belong to a network of people in an easy way and free from infrastructures, therefore,to share thoughts and actions with the other cybernauts, known or unknown in the real world, in no time.
The virtual community is, from the sociological and relational point of view, comparable to a real community. It replaces the intensity o a physical contact with the immediacy of a chat or a video and the empathy of a look with the infinite relational weave available online.
Let us go to the point, and that is to our example.
Who among us has never played with the LEGO bricks? For the undersigned, a child in the 1970s, years deprived of video games and commercial television as well as color tv, the LEGO bricks were an explosion of colors, a wall to be climbed with the imagination, they were “my” game.
A game apparently simple, where manual skills and imagination permit a child to plan, create, experience.
In the 1980s and 1990s, LEGO was subject to a strong competition of the interactive games with a “high-technology content”, therefore, a progressive loss of market which put the company in great difficulty.
At the beginning of the 21st century, LEGO, maybe at its height of the financial crisis, tried to reach the young ones with a new product range, the mindstorm LEGO.
The idea, on which the new range is based on, is excellent; it offers a kit for the construction of a robot by mixing bricks and technology.
I suppose the main purpose is to attract the interest of the youngest ones, the preteens, with a complex planning target and a high-level technology in condition to compete with the electronic games.
We live in a world in constant change and, as in this case, may happen that an idea, a production line, turns out to be, from the very beginning, something totally different from what was supposed to and designed for, from what was thought by the LEGO managers as a “good product” for the youngsters.
A different target of consumers, sometimes even older than the one I mantioned before, has adopted these kit and has begun to mix the components creating new innovative forms, new robots.
As a result, a community of planners mindstorm has been created spontaneusly online, capable of subverting the original project, creating new things, sharing them, modifying and remodifying them over and over again.
From what I’ve read on internet, from unreliable sources (who knows, if true), the LEGO leadership didn’t expect this change. It was written that the managers found themselves in great difficulty and that they were thinking of untrusting the work to inventors in training who might well revolutionize the product’s nature.
Later on, or perhaps immediately after, we will never know for sure, the change happened and Lego made room for the mindstorm designers, creating a place only for them as well as additionals features like “Upload your robot” that gave the possibility to present one’s own innovative solution, unique. Today a “mindstormer” can expose his creation, explain how to disassamble it, reassamble it and turn it upside-down or how to create a new robot. In this way a community has been created, a community based on imagination and on originality.
Shortly after, to the community LEGO, were added assemblies organized by the same company, collaborations between LEGO and some of the community’s protagonists as well as the implementation of a new generation of software tools able to create, along with LEGO, new social thematic spaces devoted to the planning.
Today LEGO is a company which has succeeded in loyalizing new consumers, as we may say in jargon, it “repositioned itself” by succeeding in creating new spaces and new opportunities, by listening to the consummers’ wishes and allowing them to express and share their own creativity.
We are dealing with a history 2.0 where internet has functioned as a communication tool and a social network and where the absence of obstacles has permitted the spontaneous creation of a web community capable of sharing a sincere interest, of revolutionizing, renewing and amplifying a trade proposal.
As happens lots of times, the real world didn’t know how to anticipate this necessity, but it was succesful in observing attentively what was going on and, progressively, in becoming an active part of it.
Today LEGO is the propeller of this community of underground designers.
Brick after brick we are building a world more and more 2.0.