Journalism students explain SXSW, share internship experiences

Members of Bloomington Press Club heard a bit about the next big wave in technology from IU students and the journalism professor who teaches their class, Devices of Wonder.

IU journalism assistant professor Hans Ibold and students talked about the class’ visit to the South by Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas, in March, where they attended workshops led by leaders and innovators in communication technology.

Ibold described “South by” as a venue for creative people working in media and technology who are hungry for ideas. The come to show their work and look for the “next big thing,” he said. For example, Twitter was unveiled at the 2007 conference.

“It’s the place to experience what’s unfolding in the world of media and technology, and it has a global reach,” said Ibold, who recounted several of the international gurus and company reps at the festival.

And what of the “next big thing”? He said social media tools continue to lead the way, and the future may bring a “social discovery,” or way of integrating all sorts of info as soon as one arrives at a place of venue. You’ll receive data in layers, he said, as you walk into a business, restaurant or airport, based on your needs.

Of course, all that depends on data, which is the driving force behind many new developments, he said. This data comes from social media users, for example, who are willing to put much of their personal content online. This will bring to the forefront privacy issues, which already are contributing to social change through technology, Ibold said.

Students in the class who attended the conference talked about their experiences. Stephen Hicks has been exploring his interests by taking informatics courses to complement his journalism major, and said SXSW was an open forum for people to “crowdsource,” or glean ideas or solutions to problems from one another while at the conference, and to network for partners or mentors for work long after the workshops.

“Technology is impacting our storytelling as much as our stories are impacting technology,” Hicks said.

Graduate student Yanqin Lu said his work focuses on social media’s use in political campaigns, and he sought workshops relevant to topics such as online fundraising and the Web’s influence on people’s decision making.

Emma Grdina’s experience in the class and the conference changed her career goals. She’s now interested in working in design of social media and learning about how people interact electronically.

Other students at the meeting included the two press club interns who reported on their year-long experiences with nonprofits. Amy Bishop worked with Boys and Girls Clubs, where she said she learned to work independently and was gratified that her supervisors allowed her such freedom. Daniel Byrd worked with Options and said it was rewarding to see his work used in a meaningful way.

Next year’s interns are journalism students Lis Klisser, who will intern at People and Animals Learning Services (PALS), and Jamie Kamen, who will work with Stepping Stones.

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