In Depth: Web pandering…

I didn’t see this live when it happened but CNN is pushing this photosynth technology segment like it’s such a big deal…like it’s the Magic Wall all over again. Let’s step back a minute and examine this, shall we?

CNN is devoting a segment to look at one image captured in time (allegedly…more on the inaccuracy of that in a moment). Putting John King, Mr. “Magic Wall” himself, on to handle this supposedly “elevates” the importance of this segment in the viewer’s mind. And then there’s the blatant appeal for more viewer photos to be submitted via the web. The theory is the more photos there are the more detail there can be in the assembled image. But it’s all just a ridiculous smokescreen…

What we have here is a gimmick, not quite as bad as the CNN “holograms” from election night, but just as meaningless. First of all, this isn’t a single moment in time frozen. It’s a bunch of individual moments in time cobbled together to make it appear like a single moment in time. In theory you could see the same person in different areas of the image depending on what part of the overall image is examined and what time the photo was taken. And that’s what makes this technology impractical as a journalistic tool because for it to work from an accuracy standpoint everyone needs to shoot pictures within a short timeframe, like a minute or less. Outside of that “window” and anomalies start appearing when one compares the various zoomed in images. The greater the spread in the time of the photos, the greater the disparity in anomalies.

King, now host of CNN’s flagship four hour Sunday program, has been put in the not at all glamorous position of tech shill. There’s little news worthiness in having the ability to zoom in and out and at various angles of a Presidential inauguration. All that’s really left to show off is the technology itself. And that’s all we ended up getting, King showing off how the technology functions without adding anything to the newsiness of the inauguration itself. Change CNN’s call letters to QVC and King would appear right at home.

The other not so obvious angle to all this is the blatant pandering this does for CNN.com. This isn’t citizen journalism or anything of the sort. It’s just a means to bump up CNN.com web traffic, to continue to make CNN.com relevent even when the cause is as weak as it is in this case.

Ever since the Magic Wall, CNN has continued to thrust new bleeding edge technologies down the viewers throats, regardless of the suitability of the technology as a news tool. One would have thought the election night hologram fiasco would have been a wakeup call. Apparently nobody was listening…

Related: Photosynth wasn’t the only meaningless technological thing CNN was pushing today…

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I also want to let our viewers know we’re going to be doing something rather extraordinary in the next few minutes. We’ve ordered an exterior shot of the Mall from way up in space. A satellite image will take a picture of what’s happening here in Washington, D.C. GeoEye 6 satellite, to be precise. We’re going to get the view from space. We’re going to turn that picture around as quickly as we can, and you’re going to see what this would look like if you were flying overhead from space, from a satellite. It’s going to be, Anderson, a pretty amazing shot. I don’t think –

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: How do you work up a satellite?

BLITZER: David Bohrman, our Washington bureau chief…

COOPER: If anyone knows how to call up a satellite, it’s David Bohrman.

BLITZER: … does that. He just makes a phone call. He says, get me the picture from that satellite. And we’re going to show it to our viewers in the United States and around the world. We try, as all of our viewers by now know, to do some unusual, extraordinary technological –

COOPER: Hopefully, there won’t be clouds.

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3 Responses to “In Depth: Web pandering…”

  1. A space shot? Isn’t that called Google Earth?

  2. imusuallyright Says:

    I am sure I saw FNC with a sattelite picture as well. Wolf easily could make the jump to 24hour infomercials.

  3. Coming soon to CNN, photosynth solves the JFK assassination.

    Next month: lightsabers.

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