The following is a transcribed version of an audio interview with Gillian Shaw, technology writer for the Vancouver Sun, made at the Fresh Media Forum on Saturday October 24th, 2009. This interview was originally published as part of BCIT's 3 Blog Nights.
What’s it like being from the boomer generation working in the new media space?
It’s really exciting actually. Our business has changed so much since I started. I didn’t start when they had typewriters but close enough. At that time we had one-dimensional writing. We could write our stories and they would land on your doorstep in the morning and that was it. It was a one shot deal. You had one chance to talk to the audience and they had a limited chance to talk back to you. Even with email you just don’t have that 24/7 interactive opportunity that you have today. Between that and being able to tell our stories in so many ways - video, podcasts, blogs - it adds so many dimensions and I love everything about that.
It seems like the local tech community in Vancouver is reaching a critical mass. What’s your feeling on the current state of the local tech community?
I write in this space and I am a journalist but I am also really enthusiastic. I am a really big booster of our homegrown technology and what people are doing here. One of the things that’s often said, I think it’s true, is that some of our best companies, best talent and best innovation are recognized more on the world market before they are recognized at home. I try to change that with what I do and what I write. I work to shed light on it and tell the stories of some of the great innovation that’s going on right now in our city.
What do you think the importance of understanding and using new media is to new graduates, specifically in journalism?
I think it’s totally important. It is really key and crucial and really just a lot of fun to be able to use all the different tools we have available. I don’t think there is space for a one trick pony anymore. I don’t think you can just say, “I write and my stories appear in print” or “I just create one kind of media or another”. Although there are specialists, if you are going to be in journalism I think you need to take advantage of all the different ways of sharing your stories.
Do you teach your co-workers about new media?
I try to help whenever people ask and a lot of people ask me. I am a bit of a social media evangelist so I really like to share that information. I am very fortunate because I learn a lot from the people in my network and my community who are very kind and generous with their time and expertise. They pass that along to me so I try to do the same.
What is your favourite part of the democratization of media and journalism?
As a journalist, the most important thing is that now everybody can be a publisher and everyone can be a reporter. We’ve seen some very important cases, such as the Dziekanski death at the airport, where it was having a citizen there with a camera that made the difference between that case being buried and his death going unremarked or investigated and the braidwood inquiry that we see today.
In your opinion how will the democratization of journalism affect the Olympics?
I think the Olympics are a really great opportunity for Vancouver social media to showcase itself to the world. I think Vancouver’s social media scene is already regarded as being quite leading edge. People look to Vancouver and its social media to see what people are doing here. The Olympics will provide a broader forum and spotlight it even more here. I think it can only be good.
What do you think is next in media both traditional and new?
I have ideas everyday about the technological inventions I would like to see. Coming off a talk about the future of media, which is area I focus a lot on, I think that one of the jobs ahead is for people to figure out how to continue this on and continue the expansion. In some ways the problem is how to make money in the delivery of news in our 24/7 world. We’ll all be better served when some of these questions are answered.
What is your favourite app on your iPhone?
I just love the video capability of the new 3GS because I had the 3G, which didn’t have video. The second I got video everything and everybody in my life when online. Even though I carry a little a mini video recorder I just love using the iPhone. I like the fact that is such a multipurpose tool. If I go somewhere and just have my phone in my pocket I can still be posting my videos to YouTube.
Thanks so much for taking sometime today, Gillian. Gillian can be found at her blog and her column in the Vancouver Sun.