Michael Rogers was announced as the first “futurist in residence” at the NY Times R&D division last week, and iwantmedia.com is now running a brief interview.
What’s interesting is that I came across this via a link that suggested that Rogers had a lot of good things to say about the new Times Reader — and as you may recall I have a lot of questions about the value of that particular offering. Turns out, though, that it’s really just a passing reference. Says Rogers:
The new Times Reader, on a tablet PC, is already a pretty good experience. Spin that forward five years and you’re starting to have a compelling alternative. Finally, in another decade, a substantial part of our audience will have grown up already doing much more of their reading on screen, and they’re not likely to have the same emotional attachment to paper as does much of the current readership.
Rogers is an interesting guy with some nice thoughts on what it means to be (or employ) a futurist, well worth reading the interview. I’m also pleased that the quote above is really about screen and paper, rather than the specific Times Reader implementation. You’ve all heard it before, but while the TR sounds like it has some interesting features, I absolutely believe that trying to make the screen experience of a news publication more like the paper experience is a dead end approach, particularly when you create software that’s locked in to a single news source.
The Times’ R&D group is still very new, but I’m hoping to see a lot of interesting work coming from that direction. The very existence of the group is promising: where some organizations still view newsprint as their core product, with “online” or “new media” as a secondary outlet, there are a few companies that are making the shift to thinking of themselves as information based and format agnostic.