I guess I'm not the only person to think that Grafedia -- which brings the idea of hypertext into the real world -- has potential as a journalism tool.
I received an email from John Geraci, the man who invented Grafedia, saying much the same.
"That's exactly the sort of thing I envisioned when I started Grafedia," John said. "But it's hard to find someone to take on a project like this, and the ordinary people who come to the site and try Grafedia out don't seem inclined toward that sort of thing."
Well I'd like to think that the readers of this blog aren't ordinary people. And I suspect that someone will pick up on the idea of immersion journalism.
For B2B journalists, the easiest immersion story would involve a trade show. Visitors to the show could use cellphones and email devices to access stories about companies at the show, find product reviews, retrieve video interviews with company executives, etc.
But I think my friends at College Media Advisers may find more complex and interesting concepts to explore through immersion journalism.
For example, imagine that a historic and well-loved school building in your town was slated for conversion into apartments. Story "users" -- we can't really call them "readers" -- could wander through the building. Grafedia could direct them to photos in context -- showing what the room they stand in used to look like. Grafedia could also point users to audio files of children in the playground, to videos of a school basketball game, and give directions to the home of a nearby elderly person willing to share his memories with visitors.
Or imagine that it's budget season. Some social-service agencies in your community will be getting an increase in funds. Others are slated for cutbacks. An immersion story could lead users through your town as they visited agencies, listened to interviews and met with politicians, agency workers and clients.
I can imagine dozens of such stories. I'm sure you can as well.
People who couldn't "visit" the immersion story could visit a Web site with a simpler multimedia version with many of the same components.
Not only could immersion stories prove to be remarkably moving and effective pieces of journalism, they would be a fantastic way to teach multimedia skills to journalism students.
What do you think?