The Institute for New Media Studies was one of four key components of the U's New Media Initiative, which started in 1998 to take the journalism school into the 21st century. The institute's mission was to be a center for creation, innovation and examination of content and messages and the effects of new media technologies and techniques on their forms and functions.
Nora Paul arrived in July 2000 to establish the institute as a cross-departmental, interdisciplinary center intended to be "internationally recognized for innovation, experimentation and creativity in new media and a focal point for building partnerships with the communications industry."
Paul initiated more than 100 leading-edge programs, seminars, lectures and workshops over the 10-year span of the institute's exploration of new media impacts. Her expertise was sought across the country and around the world, leading to travel in 13 countries in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and South America.
The first key research project the institute undertook was the Elements of Digital Storytelling, which defined the taxonomy of terms and "elements" that make up digital stories: Media, action, relationship, context and communication.
New Media Research Breakfast
The New Media Research Breakfast series was launched as a gathering of industry professionals, U students and scholars interested in current new media research. These popular breakfasts ran through the duration of the institute's programming.
The Geo Wall
Often a technology gets developed before an application for its use is entirely clear, as was the case for the Geo Wall. The wall was developed for presentation of three-dimensional images and virtual site visits of topographical maps in the geology and geophysics department. The institute was awarded two grants for further development of wall technology and for addressing the creation of content. The Joy of Wall summit created a content cookbook with "recipes" for taking 2D content and converting it for display in a 3D wall presentation.
Top 10 Wired Women
Paul was named one of the Top Ten Wired Women by ABCNews.com and was featured in the Last Word column of the Mpls.St.Paul magazine in 2002.
This popular monthly series was produced from 2002 to 2008 and showcased student and faculty "digerati" using new digital tools and techniques to do old things in new ways. The Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum co-sponsored the event at the museum and drew from such diverse disciplines as visual art and game design to architectural and scientific simulations.
New Research for New Media
This conference series addressed the current state of and future trends in research methods used to examine new media. The 2004 conference was held in Spain in collaboration with the University of Tarragona. Each fall the New Research for New Media conference brought together researchers from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds to talk about their research approaches.
The Game Research and Virtual Environment Laboratory (Gravel) was a joint project between the institute and the Digital Technology Center. Founding members included people from colleges and departments across campus exploring the implications of the game environment on various social science, design and technology questions.
This anthology of essays by 22 multi-media producers and innovative thinkers from around the world and across disciplines was published.
In follow-up to the Elements of Digital Storytelling research findings, Paul proposed the DiSEL project (The Digital Storytelling Effects Lab) with co-researcher Laura Ruel of the University of North Carolina.
Multimedia News Producers Workshop
The institute co-hosted the Multi-media News Producers Workshop with the Minnesota Journalism Center and invited online news producers from across the U.S. The three-day workshop provided instruction and hands-on training to improve audio, video and Flash storytelling skills.
Playing the News
Paul and Professor Kathleen Hansen received a $250,000 grant from the Knight Foundation 21st Century News Challenge program to test an interactive news game against traditional news methods for complicated, on-going news issues. Their virtual game environment project, "Playing the News," allowed citizens to "play" through a news story to see how it impacted understanding of and engagement in the news topic.
Paul and Ruel published their Digital Storytelling Effects Lab research findings and embarked on a new round of studies. A consortium of 12 United States news organizations helped develop the research agenda.
MN Job Skills Partnership
The institute and the SJMC received a $238,000 grant from the state of Minnesota to train newsrooms and advertising staffs at the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press in digital age skills.
Eyetracking Research project
An examination of the New York Times Topics Pages provided insights into how students engage with "curated" news content.