A principal researcher at Microsoft Research describes what a culture of innovation means to her and raises questions she thinks media companies should be asking themselves.
Editor’s note: At a recent conference at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, we asked Kate Crawford, a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, about how media companies can build a culture of innovation. To hear other perspectives from the conference, click here.
How do media companies build a culture of innovation?
Kate: You know, innovation is such a buzzword that I’m, these days, almost unable to say it without putting “scare quotes” around it. In the end, what we’re really talking about is a relationship between imagination and creativity and building on history to try and make better things in the future.
And that involves a lot of issues around the values behind what you’re building. I actually think innovation for innovation’s sake is just not that interesting. And doing something just because it can be done can actually be the worst reason for doing something.
Instead, I’d like us to be asking, “What are the things we need to be doing? What are the serious gaps? And what are the problems that we have to be addressing now?” And in the case of thinking about news and information, those questions are really about, “What is the public trust here? And what kind of responsibilities do privately held platforms have to the public trust? How do we understand the concept of a news ecology anymore when people are seeing radically different versions of what the news might be that day?”
We’ve got to a point in personalization now where people are really getting used to seeing just the things they normally see. So, what does that do to our understanding of shared social conversation about what’s important in the world?
These are actually difficult questions that I think we do need new solutions to. I think innovation just as a culture isn’t enough. I think we have to be holding ourselves to a higher standard.
Jake is the text and multimedia product manager at The Associated Press and the former editor of Insights. He previously covered college sports as a reporter for AP and helped design its multi-year strategic plan.