Monday, September 26, 2011

Seminar 4 topics

1. The human need for radio
What basic human needs do/can radio satisfy? Objective information (news, weather, traffic etc.)? Entertainment (sports, gossip)? Music (decreasing?)? How would those needs be satisfied if there for example was no public service radio, or if broadcast radio was dead? What makes radio - someone (intimately) talking right in your ear - special? How can those needs and those experiences be emulated or replaced by other media? Are, or how are these needs changing in modern society?

2. Displaydio
Radio as a social marker. How do you integrate your (non-music?) radio listening into your public presentation, i.e. how do you show other people what you listen to and who you are as a person? We know how to do this through clothes when it comes to music, but how could this be extended to radio and radio shows?

3. Radio for the deaf?
People who are deaf should not be excluded. Also deaf people want objective news and information about a crisis. Is there some way of bringing, or creating radio for people who can't hear? How can everyone be part of the community of radio listeners?

4. Bringing the Internet to radio
There is a lot of talk about bringing radio to the Internet, but little talk about bringing the Internet to radio. Blogs, Facebook and Twitter create "waves" of information cascading across the Internet. How can dispersed and potentially unreliable information be vetted/audited and broadcasted, bringing the latest Arabian spring news or the latest political chatter to a truly mass media channel by monitoring, summarizing and reporting on what is happening on the Internet right now?

5. On the synergy of old and new media
Competition is a point of view, synergy is another. Old and new media do not only exist in parallel, but depend on and strengthen each other! Radio and the Internet complement and blend into each other! New developments forces "old" media to find its unique strengths, to refine these strenghts, and ultimately strengthens its form and expression - just as the arrival of commercial radio in Sweden (1990's-) forced public service radio to improve. How will radio be strengthened by recent developments in media technology?

6. Finding a balance between active and passive listening
Some people want to have total control and might spend a lot of time deciding content they will listen to on the radio. Others prefer to press one button once and then lean back and let others do the selection (filtering). How can these two modes of listening to radio be combined; what are the ways of finding a "balance" between "active" and "passive" listening?

7. The ratings industries
Michael Forsman mentioned the ratings companies that measure who, what and where and then sell their results back to the radio channels. What is the history of measuring ratings and the specialized companies that do these measurements. What is the impact and implications of their activities - how does feedback affect the radio industries (content, economic decisions, radio personalities etc.)? What role will measurements, ratings and the rating industries play in the future and for the future of radio? This proposal can be linked to, or compared to last week's "Radio advertising of the future" proposal.

8. Language radio/podcasts
Some of you mentioned listening to radio to uphold language skills or when you learn a new language, for example foreign students listening to Swedish radio to hear more spoken Swedish and train their faculties of understanding spoken Swedish. What is state of the art and what is the (future) role of radio broadcasts and/or podcasts in language learning?

9. School radio/podcasts
Some teachers have made experiments with using podcasts in education (for example Björn Hedin, some of you have taken his (Swedish-language) course on "Interactive media technology"). What is state of the art and what is the (future) role of radio broadcasts (in different countries) and/or of podcasts (or "enhanced podcasts" with powerpoint slides?) in (higher) education?

10. Place-bound glocal radio
There was a glocal radio topic last week, but what if glocal radio was not something that just customized the radio content according to where you are at the moment and your personal habits, but rather tied to "places" that you could actively subscribe to? Perhaps people could subscribe to different geographic places or areas in different parts of the world to follow what is happening there?

11. HCI challenges: always-present radio
How could technological/human-computer interaction (HCI) solutions allow us to always bring radio with us? How about tapping the phone against the computer to continue to play the podcasst when you leave the office and tapping it against the car stereo to switch to the speakers when you sit down in the car and later to your home stereo? Sharing a podcast by tapping on someone else's phone? What other HCI ideas and challenges could make radio more useful and fun?

12. The audio pool
Intelligent algorithms monitor your choices and add (similar) stuff to your "audio pool" based on your previous selections and feedback ("I like this", tags etc.). You can affect and alter the flow with a few "dials" and "buttons" (?); the proportion of talk/music, different "modes" (at-work, in-the-car, walking-the-dog, moods etc.). Perhaps people with subscribe to your audio pool or you to theirs?

13. Pay for performances
Daniel Johansson indicated a shift when it comes to music from paying for recordings (a CD) to paying for performances or actual music "use" (concert, Spotify). In Spotify, a flat fee is divided into small pieces and sent off to the artists you listen to (although, as we have heard, most of the money stops at the record company). Flattr ("flatter" + flat rate") allows you to donate an amount of money that you decide and divide it evenly among all the great content providers on the Internet that you like. What would a payment model that rewards "performances" on the radio (or podcasts or web radio) look like? This topic is related to the seminar 3 topic "economic models of (future) radio".

14. The competition channel
Also traditional "one-way" (broadcast) radio has experimented with listener feedback through call-in talk radio ("Ring så spelar vi"). How can listeners become more involved through radio events and competitions? Could we imagine "user-generated content" where listeners create the entertainment value themselves? How is this done today, what could be done tomorrow? Is it possible to imagine a dedicated "competition channel"?

15. Changing conditions for radio workers
Gunnar Bolin mentioned the generous conditions and the expensive costs for Swedish Radio of maintaining 16 foreign correspondents abroad. He also mentioned the increased use of "stringers" or freelancers. Will increased use of freelancers lead to decreases in quality? Or, could it be possible to improve radio and widen the "intake" by using an extensive network of freelances or even "natives" who cover events and produce content that are later utilized/bought/payed/summarized and edited by editors creating great radio?

16. Radio/audio blogger
Is there a space somewhere between radio, pocasts and radiotwitter for audio bloggers? Some blogs, notably young women writing about fashion, have become among the most popular of blogs in Sweden. Could blogging go audio in the future? Could audio blog posts, perhaps automatically downloaded to you iPod/cell phone become a trend? Could the best, funniest and most popular audio blogger make it to broadcast radio much the same way that some bloggers start to write chronicles for newspapers and some radio personalities start to make TV?

17. Listening habits of the young generation
Commercial radio forces public service to mind their quality, to not lean back and take it easy. Commercial radio also fosters a new generation of radio listeners to develop radio habits. These radio listeners might at a later point develop public service habits - so public service "loves" commercial radio. But what happens if/when young people stop listening to radio? Is that, or how is that a loss for society, democracy etc.? Could (or how could) radio become more popular among young listeners in today's saturated media landscape?

18. The future of digital radio
Is digital radio broadcasting dead before arrival? DAB+ (ongoing experiments being conducted in Sweden) is technically superior to both DAB and FM, but will that matter? Will digital radio make inroads and eventually take over, will FM broadcasting be terminated, or will we just stay with FM and go for Internet radio instead?

19. Future of the electromagnetic spectrum
If the death of (broadcast) radio or the transfer from analog (FM) to digital radio frees up a lot of frequencies in the spectrum, what would the future of radio communications look like? The electromagnetic spectrum is used for many different things, of which radio is only one. What is the spectrum used for today, which uses are "on the rise" and how could the "frequency pie" of the future be divided up (and why) if radio exits the scene?

20. Future of copyrights
With abundant, niche (web) radio channels and an infinite number of podcasts, how will music copyright practices and laws adapt? Will there be no money in music, or is it possible to imagine systems that balance revenue for artists and composers on the one hand with listeners/consumers on the other hand in a "fair" way? What are the laws today? How have they developed and what are possible futures in this area?

21. Public service of the future
What is the role of public service in the future? More important than ever? A relic, a dinosaur looming towards its extinction? What is public service? Radio and TV, or, using available media/tools (including blogs and the Internet) in order to do [something important]?

22. The end of broadcast is the end of democracy and the balkanization of society.
Everyone should have access to the reliable and inexpensive news and high-quality information. Public service radio fertilizes the public sphere. A lively public sphere is crucial for a democratic society. What are the risks to Western democratic and to other societies if radio declines in power and scope? Is there a value to many people or even a whole nation listening to the same thing at the same time? Is radio (and limited choice) good for you, or, at least good for society? If so, how should societies work to "restrict" (?) diversity and choice (encourage mass audiences) for a better future together?

23. Radio as the master storyteller medium
Nancy Updike passionately argued that human being are hardwired to listen to stories, and that radio isn't old-fashioned, but rather a timeless medium for telling stories. Radio is intimate; the reporter is right next the person being interviewed in the sofa and radio is right in the listeners ear. Radio is also inexpensive both in terms of time and money, so you can afford to throw out and redo something, or try something that would be much more expensive on TV. This group will describe the future of radio and why radio rules!


There were several more suggestions given, but while some ideas seemed promising they were sometimes also hard for me to (re-)formulate into topics (for example Maryam's far-out "Radio as religion" concept).

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