By Nora Paul
Cristóbal Cobo, professor and director of the communication and information technology department, FLACSO-Mexico (Faculty of Latin American Social Sciences), is pictured with Nora Paul, director of the Institute for New Media Studies. Cobo was the featured speaker for the institute’s first new media research breakfast of the academic year.
Photo by Aaron Westre
INMS launches groundbreaking Eyetracking Research Consortium
Ten national news organizations responded to INMS director Nora Paul’s call for partnering and funding to support a new round of eyetracking studies. For the past two years, DiSEL, the Digital Storytelling Effects Lab (www.disel-project.org), in conjunction with University of North Carolina assistant professor Laura Ruel, has conducted research aimed at evaluating how multimedia news design decisions affect user behavior, information retention, and attitudes toward a news organization.
Time, USA TODAY, Yahoo!, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Star Tribune and other U.S. news organizations attended the research agenda-setting consortium meeting at the University of Minnesota Feb. 1-2, 2008. Paul and Ruel presented recent research findings on slideshow navigation, breaking news placement, supplemental links design, and the impact of multiple news “story tools” and information links on news pages. Attendees toured the University of Minnesota’s state-of-the- art usability lab and saw demonstrations of eyetracking technology. As partners, the news organizations were asked their input on research questions to study and worked with Minnesota and North Carolina graduate students on constructing research projects.
The information gleaned from the research consortium’s efforts will be shared worldwide with multimedia storytellers through an Online Journalism Review column and industry presentations. Also, the results will be published in the DiSEL series of research reports.
The latest round of DiSEL research was funded by a University of Minnesota Digital Technology Center grant, written in collaboration with College of Design Professor Sauman Chu.
New media research breakfast features e-book “Planet Web 2.0” author
In October, the INMS and the University’s Digital Technology Center hosted Dr. Christóbal Cobo, director of communication and information technology, FLACSO-Mexico, for its monthly new media research breakfast. Cobo reviewed different concepts and principles from the collective intelligence perspective (also described as the “wisdom of crowds”, “architecture of participation” and “intercreativity”) and the idea of the Internet as “fast food” mass media (cheap, short lifespan and low-quality content).
Cobo’s new e-book, “Planet Web 2.0, Collective Intelligence or Media ‘Fast Food,’ ” is a mosaic of academic reflections oriented to understanding the implications of the evolution of the Internet and its current applications. He reported that, in the first week of its release, the book had registered 40,000 downloads. A podcast of his presentation is available at
2008 Emerging Digerati to appear in new format
This spring, Emerging Digerati will bloom in a new format. Now in its sixth season as a once-a-month evening program, the Emerging Digerati spring offerings will be consolidated into one week. INMS staff and Emerging Digerati curator Anne Preston will lead attendees through the various digital labs on campus with a series of “open house” tours beginning March 31, 2008. The weeklong program will culminate in a daylong gathering on April 4 at the Weisman Art Museum. The day’s events will include demonstrations, presentations, posters and digital installations by University departments, faculty and students. The afternoon program will feature performance and art using new digital tools and techniques.
This showcase of innovative technology labs (transportation, health, archaeology and design) as well as the individual projects presented in the April 4 activities will give both University of Minnesota and community attendees a taste of all the rich and creative ways digital technologies are being leveraged at the University. For more information on the program, go to