Friday, February 1, 2013

Where do new ideas come from?

An added bonus of having an iPad is the free Podcasts app. I have become addicted to Ted Talks. Today's inspiring talk: Where do good ideas come from?

Steven Johnson says good ideas don't necessarily come from deep internal meditation and four months in the mountains alone. He talks about networking -- specifically how coffeehouses over history have helped spark major innovations.

Coffeehouses were a space where people could come together and share their ideas -- a space where "ideas could have sex."

Ooh la la.

I have been spending a lot of time lately "mating" my ideas with other people's ideas, on Google Plus groups, Twitter groups, reading blogs, immersing myself in podcasts, pinning tons of articles and ideas to my Modern Journalism pinboard and reaching out to meet other innovate journalists in person.

I recently sat down with Jessica Benes from the Reporter-Herald at -- where else -- a coffee shop.

At first, we simply shared some things we had been doing -- how we use our gadgets, apps we like, projects we have attempted. Here are her top five innovative journalism creations:

1. Taking Trivia to the Streets
This is an example of the power of collaboration. As an almost sidenote, Jessica mentioned to me that she had just launched this trivia game in the paper (first person to call in with the right trivia answers wins money off entry into an upcoming trivia contest). She was bummed because no one had called. No one.

We started talking about potential reasons why not.
- Maybe the "first person" idea put people off, assuming someone else had already called first.
- Maybe no one uses telephones to call anymore.
- Maybe it had not been promoted right.
- Maybe they just needed a little coaxing. Jay Leno style. The video above was the result.

2. The End of the World. Over 100 citizens voted in a Reporter-Herald poll that rated ideas from the community on what people would do if the world theoretically ended on Dec. 21.

3. Joining the community in designing gingerbread houses for a competition. 

Using time-lapse, video and a timeline organization, Benes chronicles as journalists take on this holiday challenge. 

4. Veterans Day. 
I think this is a great use of audio. I love hearing these voices. So powerful! 

5. Online live chat about a local issue. 

Several members of the Loveland community contributed to our live chat among Reporter-Herald staff members about Allegiant Air's decision to move out of the Fort Collins-Loveland Airport. The complete transcript is still available.

These are all great, accessible ideas of ways to use technology to enhance a story (and have more fun reporting it in the process).

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