Orihuela: “IoT tears down the walls between virtual and physical world” (II)

Published by Telefónica IoT Team IoT General

In this second part of our interview to José Luis Orihuela, the author of Mundo Twitter (Twitter World) and 80 claves sobre el futuro del periodismo (80 keys about the future of journalism), elaborates on how m2m technology will impact the media and society itself. He highlights some of the challenges we’ll be facing when managing the huge amounts of data allowed by this technology. 

[The first part of the interview to José Luis Orihuela is available at: Orihuela: “m2m allows evolving from responsive design to responsive content” (I)]

You’ve mentioned that the future of the mass media lies in analysing them separately from their analogue media. Which role could m2m technology play in the survival and evolution of media such as the newspaper?

In addition to the university initiatives I’ve mentioned before, the future of the media will have a lot to do with what Pablo Mancini has called Hacking journalism and, in general, with what the Hack/Hackers movement is doing in cities around the world: bringing together journalists and technologists “to rethink the future of the news and information”. The Knight-Funded Ideas of the Knight Foundation also provide a wonderful catalogue of projects currently underway, which reveal a future marked by the cross-polinisation of data, devices, connected users and stories. 

What about other areas such as advertising, where today intelligent and personalised ads can be delivered automatically?

The use of barcodes, QR codes and RFID labels allow turning products into advertising media while “virtualising” the objects, making it possible to monitor and interact with them remotely. In this regard, the potential of the Internet of Things in marketing and advertising represents a full revolution.

By way of example, we could mention the campaign run by the company EVRYTHNG for Diageo in Brazil on occasion of Father’s Day in 2012. This campaign enabled those buying a liqueur product to scan a code, produce a video and upload it to the cloud associating a personalised message to the gift that its addressee could download. 

Which would be the benefits and the aspects to be considered when integrating m2m technology into relationship systems involving the client/reader/audience?

The benefits would be providing a better customer service, thus offering personalised predictive services. Then such services must be balanced out with improved security, privacy and ownership of the data generated by a growing number of smart devices. 

You have affirmed that the Internet is like the printing press of the 21st century, since it “has facilitated the decentralised dissemination of multimedia contents rendering public communications democratic”. Now then, which is the biggest contribution that the Internet of Things could make to our evolution as society?

The metaphor used by Piscitelli to title his 2005 book, Internet, la imprenta del siglo XXI (Internet, the press of the 21st century) fulfils the educational purpose of putting the most disruptive information technologies in history into perspective. Internet started by connecting machines (ARPANET), it then evolved to connect information (Web 1.0), and then people (Web 2.0). Now it’s about making machines process the semantic value of information better (Web 3.0), while the network continues to expand towards the world of physical objects and becomes ubiquitous (Web 4.0). The phrase the Internet of Things finally tears down all barriers between the virtual and the physical worlds, and faces us with the dilemma of redefining reality in a hyper-connected world. 

How do you picture your day-to-day life once m2m technology becomes more widespread? Which advantages and which challenges could it pose?

Two of the major challenges posed by m2m technology is understanding what we can do with the data and what control capacity we’ll be able to keep over machines. In the area of communications, these challenges will come along with Robot Journalism, a type of journalism for which several experiments are already in progress.

In Los Angeles Times the algorithms programmed by Ken Schwencke in the Data Desk section generate stories automatically using data from the U.S. Geological Survey (earthquakes as from a certain magnitude) and from the Los Angeles County Forensic Medicine Office (homicides).

Examples of these pieces can be found in Forbes website, such as the piece signed by Narrative Science, an algorithm that transforms data into stories as a result of the work of a start-up born under the umbrella of the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications of the Northwestern University.

In turn, The Washington Post uses Truth Teller, a data verification software aimed at verifying the accuracy of the statements made by politicians in their speeches, television spots and interviews.

The new scenario will remain filled with the old controversies about the intelligence of machines and that of people - an environment about which the only thing we can anticipate is that the Turing Test  will be ever more exciting.

jose orihuela
José Luis Orihuela
PhD in Communication, speaker and writer. Professor of Multimedia Communication and New Media


Telefónica IoT Team