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Trading One InnovationCon for Another

banner is (c) European Journalism Centre

banner is (c) European Journalism Centre

Life conspired against me Thursday and I ended up missing the Creativity & Innovation Conference at the AINSI building. Lucky me, the other Innovation conference happening in Maastricht this week has a LiveStream feed; allowing me to listen in on the day’s activities.
The European Journalism Centre’s Innovation Conference is one part of a greater series trying to address the “field of innovation ecosystems”. This Thursday & Friday, the topic is “Innovation in Youth Media and Next Generation Classroom” and speakers from a variety of backgrounds discussed the effective of the “innovative ecosystems” on education. Based on what I heard on the live feed, “innovation ecosystems” refers to the changing world of media, information, and entertainment, and the technologies used to access same.
I have to say that while I am interested in the way people discover and use information, as well as new media technologies, I don’t really care about the activities of teenagers. Despite my own biases, the presentations & discussions were still informative and insightful.

This is a trailer for the conference. I like the bananas but think that the comment about innovation equals money to be short-sighted.
I missed the introduction and most of the keynote speaker, but I did catch some of the later presentation and question and answer sessions. Day one was primarily focused on the way teens (and by inference older people) interact with media, technology, and information. Here are a few impressions:
- Nicholas Covey, of the Neilsen Company, presented some pretty compelling data about what teen media consumption is really like. My thought is that young people are choosing other news outlets than TV news because they don’t trust the traditional sources. The biases (Fox News) and the unwillingness to cover certain important issues fully (CNN) mean people who want news on some subjects have to find it elsewhere. Blogs and alternative news sources do that. I also thought it was condescending to refer to teens as “little people” (as opposed to big people who are the adults I suppose).
- I liked the image of the classroom presented by Prof. Anne Balsmo, from the School of Cinematic Arts & Annenberg School. Multiple screens with students providing “Google-jockeying” web searches and chat “Backtalk” during academic lectures sounds like it would add layers to learning and help rein in students who need a more interactive learning experience. I know I Google constantly during lectures to look up websites or mentioned subjects of interest to me.
- Stephens Sayers, from FutureLabs, sang a song familiar to any of the librarians out there. We need to teach information literacy that will last into the future. Students have “high confidence, but low competence” when dealing with information technologies (such as Google) and when they learn to evaluate online sources for value they will also start questioning the status-quo resources. Good stuff.
- Jeanne-Emmanuelle Hutin-Gapsys, from Ouest-France (the largest French newspaper), spoke about an initiative to get 18-24-year-olds to read newspapers by giving them free subscriptions. This seems rather like forestalling the inevitable. It’s the content that should be focused on, not the medium. But maybe there is a cultural issue here that I’m missing. Me, I might take the free subscription but that doesn’t mean I’m reading.
- Grzegorz Piechota, from Gazeta Wyborcza (Poland’s largest daily newspaper), was by far my favorite speaker; both funny and insightful. His paper clearly is making a connection with the younger generation by addressing issues important to them, publishing on the web, and creating opportunities for social action. The Q&A seemed to have some, relatively polite, knee-jerking from other newspapers’ editors/employees about methods, money, access to talent, etc. I’m no specialist in newspapers, but I do know that in the US there is a perception that they are dying and that news in dying with them.
I wonder if there is a cultural divide here between Polish newspapers and other European and American papers. In the US, we expect at least a perceived neutrality from our newspapers. For example, the Boston Globe can report on a grassroots movement to stop some governmental building project, but it would be frowned upon if they were instrumental as a paper in starting said movement. The Gazeta Wyborcza sounds more active, but probably less neutral (in that weird news-outlet sense of the word). But it’s working for them.
- Finally, you may be interested to hear that I actually am using my Twitter feed to jog my memory writing this post. How’s that for new media use?
There should be another LiveStream today of the second half of the conference starting at 9:30 AM. Day two is dedicated to innovative teaching techniques being used now in classrooms. Once the final videos are made available, I’ll try to link those as well.

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