Geographic literacy and news apps
July 26, 2010 2 Comments
ABC News has launched a new app for the iPad that, according to some, as a “third dimension” to the display and navigation of news stories. The new app uses a globe covered with headlines and photographs of the stories offered up by ABC News. TechCrunch has posted a somewhat interesting article and video interviews with anchor George Stephanopolis , Executive Producer of Integration and Innovation Andrew Morris and VP Product development for ABC News Digital Isaac Josephson. At about the 2:47 mark in the Stephanopolis interview TechCrunch’s Lora Kolodny asks if “geographically challenged Americans will respond” to the app. Having not seen the app, and being a geographer, I rushed to the app store to download it. Could it be that a news organization is promoting geographic literacy? I imagined a Google Earth-like interface where news items were placed in the location of where they were or are happening. To my dismay, the app is nothing more than a stylized globe segmented into a variety of captioned images.
So, Ms. Kolodny’s question was totally irrelevant. Even the most geographically illiterate can “respond” or use the app. The app in its present form requires no knowledge of geography to interact with it. As Mr. Stephanopolis points out, all you do is flick the globe. It is a pretty piece of eye candy for accessing news, but sadly, does nothing to promote geographic literacy. It is a very nice application for getting your news. It provides access to not only current news, but allows you to reach back into the ABC News archives too
The power of devices like the iPad could provide the personal mobile platform that does link geography to current events. If it hasn’t happened yet, I’d love to see a developer try.