Micro-Conference

The 3rd annual StoryLab Micro-Conference

Embedded in the course ARTE5901-02 Special Topics: StoryLab, Spring 2017
February 7, 2017, Northeastern University, Snell Library, Room 90, 6:00 to 9:00 P.M.
This program is available as a PDF Document.

Raison d’être

Journalism is being reinvented: The way it’s made, the way it’s disseminated, the way it’s consumed, and its role in civic engagement. Media makers today are experimenting with new platforms, learning new tools, developing new skills, and developing new relationships with their subjects, colleagues, and readers. To innovate, we must be bold, curious, and fearless.  The presenters will highlight a range of contemporary concerns and innovative practices in order to frame the context of the course, answer questions, and provoke further inquiry.

Sequence of events

After a brief welcome, we start with short, focused  presentations from each speaker. The idea is to get us thinking. Then, after a break for refreshments, we’ll continue the engagement between students and speakers in a dynamic, moderated roundtable discussion.

Presentation abstracts

Jeff Howe: AR and VR in Journalism
Jeff will discuss the potential of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) in Journalism. These new technologies introduce new aesthetics, ethics, challenges, and opportunities for journalists. Experiments to date indicate that storytelling techniques borrowed from traditional media have their limitations and new languages need to be developed as we introduce immersion and interaction into our work.

Celia Pearce: Playing with Reality: Documentary Games in the Real World
Celia will talk about the application of pervasive and alternate reality games, primarily focusing an “art history game” she is developing with Northeastern students about the controversy surrounding Fontaine, the infamous urinal voted by curators to be the most important artwork of the 20th Century. Because they interface with real-world places and events, pervasive and augmented reality games such as Pokémon Go, pose a particular challenge and opportunity for media-makers engaged in telling “true stories.” Do these games suggest new forms of activism?

Dan Kennedy: The Bezos Effect: How The Washington Post Is Using New Design Concepts to Drive Readership and Profits
Dan will discuss The Washington Post’s National Digital Edition, a low-cost magazine-style app for tablets and smartphones. Under the ownership of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the Post has emerged as our leading digital newspaper (along with The New York Times), attracting some 100 million unique visitors a month and returning the Post to profitability at a time of economic decline in the newspaper business. Bezos has transformed the Post into a technology company as much as it is a news organization; Shailesh Prakash, the Post’s chief technologist, has called Bezos “our ultimate beta-tester.”

Terry Marshall: Design Fictions
Terry will explain how diegetic prototypes as media interventions can be used to create dialogue on social issues. Through the lens of narrative and world building we will look at how the Black Body Survival Guide is a Design Fiction project that is intervening in the dialogue around the issue of police brutality and the movement for black lives.

Karen Weintraub: Freelance Journalism: Seeking a New Normal
Magazines still pay freelancers at the same rate—or lower—than they paid in the 1970s. Newspapers are even worse. And many websites pay just a token amount or nothing at all. Trying to make a living in this climate has gotten trickier, but isn’t impossible. It takes strategy, patience, flexibility, luck—and, of course, the ability to turn a good story fast.

Kim Patch: The InSite System: Record, Transcribe, Organize, Publish, Navigate, Share
What if interviews were more accurate, transparent and useful for journalists and their audiences?  Kim will discuss a Duke University project that’s connected the dots—from recording and transcribing through publishing and sharing—with a system of best practices that includes open-source software for publishing. The InSite system saves reporter’s time, and gives viewers interactive transcripts and the ability to share video quote playlists. Learn more about the Rutherfurd Living History site at Duke University by visiting Interactive Transcript implementation and Repository for research related to this project ( includes the full slideshow).

Nathan Felde: Eventual Design for the Emergent World
As design becomes more universally recognized, understood and accepted as a force at work in the constructed world, a meta-practice has emerged which improves its conduct, efficacy and impact. I suggest we call this “eventual design” and will attempt to trace its recent history and propose its possible trajectory and goals. The focus on “event,” which Slavoj Zizek defines obliquely as whenever effect seems greater than cause, is instructive with regard to human affairs, especially when environmental cause and effect relationships have uncertain interactions, magnitudes and consequences. Ultimately, how we act toward and amongst each other determines the quality of life. What would it mean for each of us to be indigenous? Can design, as speculative change with intentional benefit, provide the fictional account of the future that leads us out of danger? Watch The Pearl Button (Patricio Guzmán, 2015)  to change the history of planet Earth.

Dramatis personae

Jeff Howe (@crowdsourcing) is a long-time contributing editor at Wired magazine, where he has covered the media and entertainment industry. He has written for The Village Voice, U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Post, and Mother Jones. He co-wrote the new book Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future with Joi Ito and is the author of Crowdsourcing: How the Power of Crowds is Driving the Future of Business. Jeff is an Assistant Professor of Multimedia Journalism in the School of Journalism at Northeastern.

Celia Pearce (@gamegrrrl) is an award-winning game designer, author, researcher, teacher, curator and artist, specializing in multiplayer gaming and virtual worlds, independent, art, and alternative game genres, as well as games and gender. She is an Associate Professor of Game Design at Northeastern and the Interim Lead for Media Arts & Games in the Department of Art + Design.

Dan Kennedy (@dankennedy_nu) is a nationally recognized media commentator who teaches news reporting, digital storytelling and other journalism courses at Northeastern. Dan is the author of The Wired City: Reimagining Journalism and Civic Life in the Post-Newspaper Age (2013), exploring the evolving ecosystem of online local and regional journalism. Dan is an Associate Professor of Journalism at Northeastern and a regular panelist on WGBH-TV’s “Beat the Press.” He writes a weekly column on media and politics for WGBHNews.org and blogs at Media Nation.

Terry Marshall (@BajanCool) is founder of Intelligent Mischief (@IntelMischief), a creative action design lab using culture, narrative and design to hack social change, they specialize in using artifacts to spur discussion, such as their Black Body Survival Guide. Terry has been involved in social justice for over 20 years and sits on the board for the Center for Artistic Activism.

Karen Weintraub (@kweintraub) is a health/science journalist and a regular contributor to Scientific American, USA Today, STAT and others. She teaches at Boston University and Harvard Extension. Karen has co-written books on autism and adult ADHD.

Kim Patch (@patchontech) is a user interface expert, writer, editor, software developer, and musician. She’s lead researcher for the Rutherfurd Living History program at Duke University, and an invited expert for the W3C Accessibility Initiative. Kim got her start 30 years ago as a metro reporter in Washington D.C. for UPI, and later founded the Internet beat as a Senior Editor at PC Week. She’s freelanced for many publications including Associated Press, Reuters, Technology Review, and others.

Nathan Felde (@feldesignal) founded Lightspeed Computers and directed Verizon’s broadband media research. Nathan’s work may be found in the collections of MoMA, Smithsonian, Cooper-Hewitt and Musée de la Arte Decoratif, Paris and is recognized by the American Academy in Rome. He is a classical violist, mariner and Kentucky Colonel, he conducts design studies, “kindergarten-to-PhD”, globally and posits attention and trust as coefficients of aesthetics and etiquette in the behavioral arts. He is a Professor of Design in the Department of Art+Design at Northeastern University.

David Tamés (@cinemakinoeye), conference organizer and moderator, is a documentary media maker who has worked on a range of web-based projects including a music community for Universal Music Group in London and MIT TechTV. He sits on the board of Filmmakers Collaborative and co-created the StoryLab course with science journalist Aleszu Bajak. He is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Art+Design at Northeastern and blogs at Kino-Eye.com.

StoryLab is a collaboration between the School of Journalism and the Department of Art+Design in the College of Arts, Media and Design at Northeastern University. Special thanks to Dina Kraft, Nathan Felde,  Jeff Howe, and Aleszu Bajak for their contributions to the design of the course.