Researching the Future of Media

Jan Kallenbach
Aalto University
School of Science and Technology

The future of newspapers, magazines or books is digital. The recent availability of tablet computers with touch displays, such as the Apple iPad, accelerates the already ongoing trend to consume also print media more and more digitally. Entirely new forms of media products are about to emerge and the market for eReading contents, such as digital interactive magazines, is still in its infancy. Exciting times lie ahead for consumers and publishers alike as new combinations of digital contents, social media, and information technology shape the media products of tomorrow.

The Media Factory research project Doing Cross Media (now NextMedia) creates and investigates this future of digital (print) media.  With researchers coming from all three Aalto schools we have started to investigate how people use and read digital newspapers, magazines, and books in detail, e.g. what they like on them and what not. How important is it for a reader, for example, to watch a video while reading a corresponding news article? In other words, what functionalities do people desire and need? What impact has the design and interactivity of digital contents on people’s likings? And how will the new services and devices enable and support people’s established reading habits and use practices?

These questions are just a few that fuel our passion for media research. The results benefit from combining our interdisciplinary backgrounds and methods. For example, we use eye-tracking to find out how people read books on the Apple iPad or Amazon’s Kindle. We enquire people’s emotions to learn their preferences and likings about novel digital magazines. And we observe and aim at understanding people’s reading habits and use patterns in their real life to be able to inform design of new media products. In short, we are creating the knowledge that expands and advances media research and from which media users and producers benefit.

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