I recently returned to Baghdad from a holiday visiting friends and relatives in Asia, and during the course of that trip, I visited my brother and his family in Singapore. While in Singapore, I spent most of my time playing with my 16-month-old nephew, who is walking and has an expanding vocabulary that is, for the moment, limited to a few dozen one and two-syllable words across English, Hindi and Marathi.
One of those words, though, is iPad.
That’s probably because he knows that it’s through the iPad that we show him 1980s Bollywood music videos like his favourite and my childhood favourite (which I introduced to him while there, of course) when he’s grouchy. But the thing I loved was the fact that he knew exactly what to do with my iPad when he had access to it — he would press the Home button, try to run his finger along the arrow key to unlock the iPad, and then fling his fingers around moving through app screens, opening apps, and whatever else he could manage.
It’s gotten to the point where he now assumes all LCD screens are touch-friendly, so when he first learned to walk, he would waddle up to the family’s 46″ television and bang his hand on it, to no avail, and would do similar things with their 7″ digital photo frame.
It makes me wonder — when he’s old enough to consume and understand some news, say nine or 10 years old (Is that right? I don’t have kids so I have no clue about child development), it will be around 2020, and the devices he uses will be absolutely nothing like the ones I used when I was nine or 10 (I was mostly playing NBA Live 95 on an aging x486 desktop while my dad fruitlessly tried to convince me to learn computer programming). What kind of journalism will be around? Will I still be a text reporter? Will my kind of position still even exist?
I know it’s not a particularly original thought, but to me, a lot of the debate over the future of journalism has always felt somewhat academic — news reporting may change, I’ve always figured, but I would change with it.
But when I think of, some day in the future, sending my nephew a link to a cool Chicago Bulls highlight video, or some interesting article, it gets me wondering: How will I send him that link? How will links, as we know them now, change?
Ok — enough of that. Back to good old-fashioned reporting. I’m working on posting a few stories in the next week that I’ve been putting together photos for: a football match I attended in Baghdad’s national stadium in 2009 (with photos from my BlackBerry 8900!); a visit to a Christian town in northern Iraq; and a story about anti-government protesters and sports officials complaining about new rules for street rallies.
In the meantime, let me know what you think — comment!