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Immediacy and Augmented Reality in a Digital Age. 

By: John Matthew Simon


Today’s April Fools joke may just be tomorrow’s reality. Where as the land of print media has come to a near standstill in terms of technological advances, expeditious runs, and readership gains. Digital media remains a frontier full of failure, tranquil success and endless possibility. This past April, the British newspaper, The Guardian, ran a bit of rhetorical tomfoolery, which may, within the not so distant future, nip them in the butt. What they deemed as “Guardian Goggles” may be a satirist spin on Google’s ‘ProjectGlass,’ however Google Glass is a reality currently being test-run by individuals selected by Google to implement and integrate the technology into their daily lives. Sometimes our finest jokes become our staunchest realities because they expose our naivety, prescient speculation, predictable nuance and supposed, but yearned for, consensus. 


What is Google Glass you ask? Google Glass is “an augmented reality system that will give users the full range of activities performed with a smart phone — without the smart phone.” Wearing our smartphone, why? Accessibility would be the primary reason; nevertheless as we integrate technology further into our increasingly digital dependent lives, hands free or 'phone free' would clearly be the next technological innovation. While the Guardian may joke about a product that “will beam its journalism directly into the wearer's visual field, enabling users to see the world through the Guardian's eyes at all times.” This ultimately is the future of how we access our news, social networks, and ongoing digital footprints. For not to long ago, think ten years, we would have been hooting and hollering over the speculation of touch screens, 'smart' phones, tablets, readily accessed media, real time communication and sharing, the '1-hour' news cycle, and more. However, in the age of immediacy digital reigns supreme, assuming the role as the primary source for news and information for most youthful (millenials), tech-savvy, economically viable, globally connected or real-time driven Americans.



A prime example of this directional change and certain integration would be the music industry’s failure to recognize signs of impending innovation and rampant digitalization of it's retail platforms, business model and ultimately it's products at the turn of the millennia. As David Carr of the New York Times put it in a recent interview on the Charlie Rose show, "What it makes me think of is music where people said, 'everything is going to change...' and then everything changed" in regards to the developmental changes of how television is devised and delivered at the moment. This is analogous to the print media’s failure to recognize digital media as not only a new means for revenue and readership, but as the ultimate modification in how news is delivered in a modern society. Carr went on to say, "once the consumer decides, it doesn't really matter what companies decide, what government's decide, that they're the ultimate authorities." And this decision to further carry the caravan towards digitalization, and essentially augmented reality, is occurring by way of ad-revenue allocation. 


We find ourselves at a moment in time where analog formats like television and radio are no longer the single conduit to reach market specific demographics. While television and radio remain the main recipients of brand advertising dollars, there is a shift of ad related dollars to the digital world. Even traditional periodicals like the New York Times are beginning to see a furtherance of pay-to-play subscribers, around 640,000 + according to David Carr. A prime example of this loyal readership reshaping the proverbial landscape is Wired Magazine’s uptick in ad-revenue from the digital sector. According to Ad Age, a publication about the advertising business, Wired saw 45 percent of it's annual ad-sales revenue from it's digital publication, a significant percentage for a periodical who remains vigilantly print oriented. 




In an era of constant repurposing, aggregating, development and immediacy, American’s are hard pressed to wait for the news to hit their Twitter or Facebook news feeds, real-time blogs, video snapshots and so forth, let alone discern if it is actually news. As Steven Levingston and W. Lance Bennett point out, “We (the American public) are interested in event-driven news, defined as coverage of activities that are, at least at their initial occurrence, spontaneous and unmanaged by officials within institutional settings.” Therefore, we tend to take what we get, rather than sifting through the malaise and milieu of mayhem that is real-time communication.


We are more inclined to add to the rumor mill, with the purpose of being the first to exclaim or herald, in lieu of participating after educating ourselves. Whose fault is this? Is it the fault of those delivering these innovative social media platforms? Is it the fault of editors, journalists, and the conglomerates that own their news media platforms? Or is this simply our culture as it stands today?  These are issues of immediacy and real-time communication in the digital age, that are not only positive, but also a necessary reality. The next question delves into the cultural change in the dissemination of news to our current and future devices. How will augmented reality, a quintessentially mobile technology, affect how we are taught to discern news? Will it turn our focus to local news? Will it make us shy away from reading all together? Or will it further this digital renaissance?


Digital media is here to remain, not just as a confluence of information for entertainment and education, but also as an increasing augmentation of our real world lives and how we interact within them. Yes, there are hiccups, road bumps, and issues to be pondered. For example, a bar in Seattle has banned Google Glass from being used inside its friendly confines, bringing up issues of privacy and legal prohibitions against digital devices. Nevertheless, this is the present scope of how technology companies, like Google, see our future interaction within this hyper-digital world. While some of us refuse to change, clinging to the familiar with the hope that the authenticity of old will remain, the world continues to evolve with or without us. Print media may be a nostalgic, however that doesn’t mean it’s going away. And we shouldn’t treat it like an old fogy, rather we should embrace it by utilizing its greatest characteristics to better our future augmented realities. 




Farlo, Lois. “Guardian launches ‘augmented reality’ specs to offer immersive liberal insight.” The Guardian. 31 March. 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.



Carr, David. Interview with Charlie Rose. Charlie Rose Show. New York, New York. 09 Apr. 2013. Television.



Livingston, Steven & Bennett, W. Lance “Gatekeeping, Indexing, and Live-Event News: Is Technology Altering the Construction of News?” Political Communication Vol 20, Issue 4, 2003. 363 - 380. Web & PDF.



Levy, Steve. “Google Gets Transparent With Glass, Its Augmented Reality Project.” Wired Magazine. 04 Apr. 2012. Web. 22nd Apr. 2013. Web.



Ives, Nat. “Digital Cracks 50% of Ad Revenue at Wired Magazine.” Ad Age. Web. 03 Jan. 2013.



Gershman, Jacob. “Seattle Bar Declares ‘No Google Glass Zone.’ Wall Street Journal. 11 March. 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.


DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.