Think Space: A Visit to the Boston Globe Idea Lab

On Thursday evening our class took a field trip to the Boston Globe Idea Lab, an open area of space at the Globe’s headquarters where new ideas are discussed and trends are analyzed. Creative technologist Chris Marstall led the tour,  while Damon Kiesow, Joel Abrams, Andy Boyle and Miranda Mulligan also spoke about their work.

Our class took a Thursday evening visit to the Boston Globe's Idea Lab (Photo: Michael Morisy).

There is always talk in the journalism industry regarding how newspapers are constantly evolving in order to keep up with changes in how people get their news. To see the Globe’s Idea Lab was to see this evolution at work. I did my second coop at the Globe in 2010 and have been doing some work in the sports section on and off since then. When I first began working, the Idea Lab was in its infancy as the building’s layout was being rearranged to make room. I had walked past the Lab before but never actually seen it until Thursday.

Our class got to see several interesting endeavors, including how the BostonGlobe.com website has been designed to allow for easy formatting on mobile devices, how stories are being shared on Twitter and what social media programs might be useful in the future.

These presentations were all intriguing, but the most interesting aspect to me was the creative aspect among the people there. It seemed like a fun place to work and with a great chemistry between those involved.  In many ways it reminded me of the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Ca. The Lab features lots of open space and seems to encourage branching out and always thinking outside the box.

Certainly not every newspaper can afford to devote an entire area of their office to having an idea lab, but I certainly think some of the larger papers would benefit from such an endeavor. The Lab workers admitted that not everything they collaborate on will be used by the company, but the hope is that some will, and that a big breakthrough could help the paper in a big way. It’s nice to see a newspaper be aggressive in improving its product and always working toward the future.

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