Today’s digital media landscape spans a wide range of innovative technologies, from 360° cameras to social media platforms, each creating new storytelling opportunities and a chance to reach new audiences. Some well-established digital media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, have launched live streaming experiences. Others, such as Snapchat, have broken ground with innovative reconceptions of social sharing. And some historically print publications, such as The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, are thriving in the digital realm due to bold and experimental online storytelling techniques.
As the curators of the Science Media Awards Summit in the Hub (SMASH), we believe storytelling is a common thread in our shared human experience, and that new media allows us to convey the wonders of scientific discovery in new and compelling ways. We want to share some of our favorite science stories of 2016 so far, told through innovative use of new digital media platforms.
Facebook Live: Mark Zuckerberg's live chat with the International Space Station
Published: June 2016
On June 1, Mark Zuckerberg hosted a Facebook Live event with the International Space Station - the first ever Facebook Live event to be streamed from outer space. During the 20-minute interview, Zuckerberg asked ISS astronauts Tim Peake, Tim Kopra and Jeff Williams about the experiments they’re conducting in space, future Mars explorations, and relayed questions from Facebook users. As of June 6, the archived video had been viewed 5,886,965 times.
New York Times Virtual Reality (NYT VR): Seeking Pluto’s Frigid Heart
Published: May 2016
On May 19, The New York Times published an ambitious Virtual Reality experience in which the viewer follows NASA’s New Horizons during the Pluto flyby. The story can be viewed on a computer as a 360 flat screen video. However, the Times intends for this story - as well as its 15 other VR stories - to be viewed on the NY VR mobile app. The Times and Google have teamed up on a simple “headset” called Cardboard, a cardboard hat that creates a VR experience, with the viewer’s smartphone as the screen. The Times worked closely with NASA to re-create Pluto’s landscape and surrounding objects in a 3D world, and the resulting experience feels like hitching a ride on the New Horizons flyby.
Ezalel Academy of Arts and Design: Histography
Published: April 2016
This data visualization timeline is unprecedented in scale, spanning more than 14 billion years of documented history, starting at the Big Bang. Though a seemingly unwieldy amount of information to pack into one data visualization tool, the timeline breaks up chunks of time in a with a fluid and intuitive user interface. The data is pulled from Wikipedia, meaning the events update automatically as information is changed and added to the the crowdsourcing platform.
Snapchat: National Geographic Discover
Published: January 2015 (ongoing)
National Geographic is making waves with its Snapchat Discover channel. As of May 2016, NG’s content was viewed 780,000 times per day. Snapchat’s Discover channels are a chance for traditional publishers to tap into Snapchat’s explosive popularity among 18-25 year olds. NG’s channel is a roundup of important stories, quizzes and short videos. And, as one would expect, the storytelling experience is fleeting, disappearing from view once each story has been played out. Tune in on any given day, and you won’t be disappointed.
As the curators of the Science Media Awards Summit in the Hub (SMASH), we believe storytelling is a common thread in our shared human experience, and that new media allows us to convey the wonders of scientific discovery in new and compelling ways.