PROJECT GUTENBERG

The Dallas Morning News wanted to know how young people were getting their news and information. The News figured that, once out of high school or college, they would have new jobs, start families, and subscribe to the paper to be “in the know.” The “kids” had something else in mind.

Research.

We learned early on “kids” were teaching their parents and grandparents how to use the internet to find news and information without the newspaper. They also were influencing younger brothers and sisters that they didn’t need the paper to read about movies, music, sports, or other interests. This had a huge impact on The Morning News.

To better understand this — and to follow up on Ivn’s comment about social information — we returned to research subjects, documented their immediate social networks, what media was available to them, what they chose to use (or not use) to gather news and information, and what they did with what they found or their friends shared with them.

Model: Social Information Networks.

To explain and illustrate the behavior found, we developed a model called Social Information Networks. These were not social networks like Facebook or Twitter (which didn’t exist when Ivn used the phrase social information; neither did YouTube, Pinterest, or Instagram). Social Information Networks referred to how people found news and information using whatever tools (media) they wanted and then shared “snippets” within their social networks.

Personal network maps (see example) showed a subject, his or her immediate network of 10 or more people, and what media they used (or didn’t use). In the case of the DMN, also noted was whether or not a subscription was paid for or the paper was read for free at work or in a coffee shop. We often found that maybe one person in a social network read the Morning News regularly and didn’t subscribe. This behavior ran counter to what News executives believed was happening.

Click to see a larger image.

Concepts.

Social information maps were used by design teams to conceptualize near, mid, and far term products and services that took the DMN years to put into play.

The concept images to the right appear laughably dated, but remember this: Today’s technologies were not ready then, but the ideas behind each were dead on and remain relevant today.

Pizza Box Concept

Picture 1 of 4

This concept explored “blowing up the paper” and presenting consumers with just the sections they wanted to read. Look at how media content is scattered about the internet today.

All concept sketches by Doug Galletti.