But instead of serving up platters of steak and buttered mashed potatoes, this kitchen dedicates its time to finding ways to combine technological innovations with the news media.
“A lot of it is about mixing up a bunch of ingredients that are emerging more from computer science,” said Steve Outing, the director of the Digital Media Test Kitchen. “The idea is really to merge some emerging technology that can address aspects of problems we have in the news industry.”
Outing said the idea came from a discussion between SJMC Dean Paul Voakes and Outing about working on potential digital media, which then later evolved into the Test Kitchen.
The Digital Media Test Kitchen is not funded by university funds but instead by philanthropy groups and foundation grants, Outing said.
Outing said the goals of the Test Kitchen, which launched earlier this year, are to better reporting techniques through technology, introduce these technologies to more classrooms and look at new business models for the news industry.
By then introducing the innovations to the classroom setting at CU, Outing said he thinks the news industry can start to move forward.
“We have been going through a dramatic change in the media landscape,” Outing said. “It’s evolving continually and rapidly, if you look at the news industry, which is mirrored in academia as well … both institutions haven’t kept up with the pace of the innovations.”
One way the Test Kitchen can do this is by introducing some of the new companies to classes in the journalism school, Outing said.
Earlier this semester, the CEO of Tagwhat.com gave a guest speech to the SJMC digital newsroom class about mobile augmented reality, a new technology that stores information in different layers over real world images, according to the website.
Taylor Ricci, a 22-year-old senior integrative physiology major, said that although she had not heard of the program before said she thinks the Test Kitchen is a good idea.
“It’s a good thing because you got to move with the times,” Ricci said.
One current project the Digital Media Test Kitchen is working on is the recently launched beta site SlicesofBoulder.com. The site, Outing said, tries to identify all the news sources in Boulder from news media sources like the Daily Camera to neighborhood blogs.
“We did it because obviously traditional media has been cut back a lot … and things aren’t getting covered like it used to,” Outing said. “It’s hard to keep track of, and the idea was to make something that would make Boulder citizens better informed.”
Outing said the Test Kitchen plans on testing new innovations by collaborating with the CU Independent through several projects.
One such plan is to introduce a CU version of the Facebook and free iPhone trivia game application, QRANK, to campus.
The CUI would be the first college publication in the nation to use QRANK to promote readership by testing players’ knowledge of history, current events and CU social events specifically covered by the publication.
Through QRANK, Outing said the Test Kitchen can test if social gaming helps promote social awareness. As competition increases and players want to better their scores, they will read more Independent articles.
“Hopefully it’ll give people more incentive to read the Independent every day,” Outing said. “By keeping that constant, we will have some data whether this had an impact on social awareness of these headlines.”
The Test Kitchen and the CU Independent plan to launch a trial run of a CU-sports-themed QRANK game for the Friday and Saturday of homecoming weekend. The game’s release of the full version has yet to be determined.
In addition to testing new technology, Outing said the Test Kitchen looks to promote interdisciplinary relationships among students.
“It’s very likely that [the possible restructuring of the SJMC] will be very interdisciplinary,” Outing said. “Obviously the news industry has many problems to work on, and they need to cooperate with technology companies and business people. There needs to be a lot more crossing of the lines.”
The Test Kitchen, Outing said, is working with the Leeds School of Business by researching digital pricing models for the news industry.
Michael Scheimer, a 23-year-old first-year music graduate student, said he thinks the news industry needs to work creating a better business model.
“[The news industry] has to think of different ways to make money,” Scheimer said.
While the program is still fairly small with few members, Outing said he is optimistic for the future.
“It’s still a small program, but it’s growing,” Outing said. “I hope to get more and more students involved.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Rose Heaphy at Josephine.firstname.lastname@example.org.