By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

At GlobeLab, hacking their way toward the future

Did you know that the Boston Globe employs someone whose business card reads “Creative Technologist”?  The holder of that card is Chris Marstall, who hosted a meeting of Hacks/Hackers Boston at the paper’s GlobeLab space Tuesday evening.

Several dozen of us gathered to watch demos of projects that GlobeLab is working on — among them a mash-up that displays geotagged Instagram photos on a huge, six-screen map of Boston, the Big Picture photo blog repurposed for the new version of Google TV, and a tool that makes it easy for folks to see what a page of will look like on various devices.

To me, the most intriguing experiment involved a smartphone app that automatically calls up the online version of a story when you take a picture of a headline in the print edition. From there you can email it, tweet it or whatever. I’m not sure whom it will appeal to — if you’re reading a print newspaper, you’ve already made certain decisions about the place of technology in your life. But it was fun to watch.

I also think it’s pretty interesting that the Globe has committed itself to thinking about the future in ways that might not pay off immediately, but could yield something useful down the line.

Bob Brown of Network World has written a more thorough account of the evening.

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  1. L.K. Collins

    Solutions in search of a problem.

    But many innovations start with this sort of tinkering.

  2. Mike Saunders

    @L.K.: We sort of agree. Doing things the same way, ad infinitum, because they were always done that way is part of the reason legacy media outlets are sucking wind trying to keep up with online journalism.

    The days of painstakingly developing a solid idea and sticking to it are gone. Places like Google ask their people to try dozens of different things, knowing that many will fail…but there will be some real winners from the process.

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