Friday, May 01, 2015

Mobile, Internet of Things, Semi Intelligent Pervasive - and a five year challenge for PR

Over the next few weeks, I will be examining the next wave of digital developments. These new Mobile, Internet of Things, Semi Intelligent and Pervasive (MITSIP) technologies are upon us. They are beginning to affect PR but will be even more pivotal than social media. MITSIP PR is a whole new form of PR and is almost upon us. already uses an artificial intelligence platform provided by the technology company Narrative Science to generate automated news from live data sets and content harvested from previous articles (The Guardian). 

On the 17th March the inhabitants of Los Angeles were woken by a mild tremor. Less than three minutes later the Los Angeles Times website published an initial piece on the subject, at first sight a wire drafted in haste by a press agency: 

“A shallow magnitude 4.7 earthquake was reported Monday morning five miles [8km] from Westwood, California, according to the US Geological Survey. The temblor occurred at 6.25am Pacific time at a depth of 5.0 miles. According to the USGS, the epicentre was six miles from Beverly Hills, California, seven miles from Universal City, California, seven miles from Santa Monica, California, and 348 miles from Sacramento, California. In the past 10 days, there have been no earthquakes magnitude 3.0 and greater centred nearby. This information comes from the USGS Earthquake Notification Service and this post was created by an algorithm written by the author.”
The author in question is on the staff of the Times, doubling up as a journalist and computer programme (The Guardian).
The Associated Press announced in February that it plans to use algorithms to write a number of its sports stories, after already introducing these 'robot journalists' in the newsroom by automating quarterly business reports last summer. So should we expect fully automated newsdesks in the near future? (
In no time automated journalism interfaces with Social Media: 

Hille van der Kaa, who runs the professorship of media, interaction and narration at Fontys University of Applied Sciences in The Netherlands, has been researching robot journalism.

She explained in an email how systems currently being worked on could one day "take over an entire sports desk".

One project currently being worked on by Kaa's students is 'Windcatcher'.

"In this project, we put sensors on cyclists to collect information about their well being, for example heart rate. Further, we install a GoPro on every bike to grasp the view of every cyclist. We collect all the data in a second screen application.

"By doing this, viewers can select one cyclist and automatically receive real time information about the cyclist they like on their tablet."

"To go even further, we can make automated reports for different target groups. Using machine learning technology we can teach our algorithm to write an article with viral elements, using specific words or sentence structure, which will go viral on Facebook."

Could robots be the journalist of the future?

The Internet of Things - the network of physical objects or "things" embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity to enable it to achieve greater value and service by exchanging data with the manufacturer, operator and/or other connected devices. 

Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to interoperate within the existing Internet infrastructure. For example, Google maps on a mobile has turned the journalists' phone into a navigation system complete with spoken instructions which you can share with others on the other side of the world . But, of course, a mobile phone is also an instant television camera and TV set. 

Watching anything from a robin's nest to a sales conference remotely is now easy and, because it goes through a computer, a range of editing options are available, including automated responses (e.g. as the model walks past a small - all but invisible to humans - bar code, the computer transitions images from one camara to another from miles away). Such content can be broadcast via social media to a range of publics or to private networks.

With drones, there are options to monitor things a long way off from the sky and then broadcast to the world or an individual

As one might say 'an image is worth a 1000 words'.

ABI Research estimates that more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the Internet of Things (Internet of Everything) by 2020. 

The Chancellor, Rt Hon George Osborne, posited that the Internet of Things is the next stage of the information revolution and referenced the inter-connectivity of everything from urban transport to medical devices to household appliances.

It has been suggested by Nick Couldry and Joseph Turow that Practitioners in Media approach Big Data as many actionable points of information about millions of individuals. The industry appears to be moving away from the traditional approach of using specific media environments such as newspapers, magazines, or television shows and instead tap into consumers with technologies that reach targeted people at optimal times in optimal locations. The ultimate aim is of course to serve, or convey, a message or content that is (statistically speaking) in line with the consumer's mindset. For example, publishing environments are increasingly tailoring messages (advertisements) and content (articles) to appeal to consumers that have been exclusively gleaned through various data-mining activities.

A view, from the world of the Semantic Web[62] focuses on making all things (not just those electronic, smart, or RFID-enabled) addressable by the existing naming protocols, such as URI. The objects themselves do not converse, but they may now be referred to by other agents, such as powerful centralized servers acting for their human owners.

Using technologies to extend human capabilities is an interesting area of PR potential. The wearable computer is an example. There is a constant interaction between the computer and user, i.e. there is no need to turn the device on or off. Another feature is the ability to multi-task. It is not necessary to stop what you are doing to use the device; it is augmented into all other actions. These devices can be incorporated by the user to act like a prosthetic. It can therefore be an extension of the user’s mind and/or body.

While it may seem that Mobile, Internet of Things, Semi Intelligent and Pervasive (MITSIP) activity is an adjunct to modern PR, we will be mistaken if we do not realise its effect on the practice of PR.

This is an issue for PR courses run by the CIPR, Universities and the training organisations. This is an issue for discussion among the board members of PR consultancies and someone is going to have to explore the evolution of the digital world as it affects PR pretty soon.

There is almost nothing that is being done by a practitioner today that will not have been changed beyond recognition within five years.