Nebraska Public Media Labs: Our Vision
Nebraska Public Media has long held that the innovation process is helped by having a space for incubation that is independent of the rigors of deadline-driven line production. As we look toward the future of public media, it’s important that we continue to intentionally create space for experimentation with and exploration of new media for content creation and communication.
In such a space the sting of "failure" can occur without stigma when the result is learning that can benefit the entire organization. Projects that incubate in such a space should result in three successes: first, the testing of ideas that lead to a better understanding of the opportunities in emerging media for Nebraska Public Media; second, the expansion of the content creation technology tool kit available to all storytellers at Nebraska Public Media; and finally, the creation of content and experiences that, when published, create measurable impact while reflecting the values of Nebraska Public Media.
Since 2016, Nebraska Public Media has sought to redefine “digital media” as a type of media which any storyteller at Nebraska Public Media can create. In 2020, we supplanted that term with “emerging media” to more clearly declare our intent in exploring the evolving edge of digital media. To intentionally focus resources on emerging media content creation, we launched Nebraska Public Media Labs.
Labs assesses the state of the art in emerging media and focuses experimentation on projects that lead to an expansion of how we extend the value of public media in Nebraska. To do this, Labs will pursue the research and development of 1) new media and platforms, 2) storytelling techniques and production workflows, 3) new collaborators for projects and initiatives, and 4) new audiences reached via new channels of distribution. Nebraska Public Media Labs will cultivate a distinct identity within the University of Nebraska community for pioneering applications of emerging media (with collaborators like Emerging Media Arts, the State Museum and the College of Journalism and Mass Communication, where appropriate). It will also develop a distinct identity for innovation and thought leadership within the public media and greater emerging media communities.
Increasingly, Labs’ work reflects the belief that public media has a role to play in the creation of experiences that encourage and support play for all ages. As a result, a sizable portion of Labs’ project portfolio will be dedicated to experimentations in the next generation of the internet (sometimes referred to as “the Metaverse”), with specific focus being given to developing the spatial media creation skills needed to build virtual worlds, make use of emerging technologies to digitally augment the real world, and use these new media to communicate information and tell stories. These skills go beyond storytelling to encompass “play” and the ability to experience media beyond traditional linear consumption.
As such, Nebraska Public Media Labs has identified a focus on the following arenas of experimentation:
Develop immersive and first-person explorer experiences based on virtual simulations
- Focus on creating experiences with accessibility designed in from the beginning
- Focus on creating experiences that have educational value for the target audience
- Focus on real-time VR experiences with real time social interactions
- Focus on experimentation with game mechanics in experiences
- Explore animation of objects in 3D space
- Explore motion capture of the human form
- Explore branched narrative content
Develop tools that take advantage of spatial computing to add context to an end user’s specific or daily experience
- Focus on photogrammetry, LiDAR and other scanned asset creation
- Explore creation of location-based interactive experiences utilizing mobile or wearable computing
- Explore AR app development and/or enhancing existing apps with AR features
Develop and cultivate collaborations within University community, with local non-profits, and within the public media system that explore the potential of this new medium
Create and advocate for safe social spaces that allow free expression of identity
Advocate for and create networks of best practice around spatial media, both in Nebraska, within the national public media community, and within the global spatial media community
Develop best practices around data and analytics collection that respect the free will of the individual experiencing - through play or more passive consumption - our creations
Facilitate content created by (and often for) the public media youth audience gap
Champion and advise the production of content driven and guided by youth voices
Grow work-experience opportunities for young creators under the editorial guidance of Labs
Experiment with ideas that take advantage of smart speakers as well as spatialized audio devices
Explore the intersection of these platforms with spatial computing
Continue to ensure that Nebraska Public Media’s web presence is state-of-the-art through the application of new web and mobile application technologies
- Focus on accessibility for all audiences and on protection of user data and privacy
Prioritize the creation of experiences that make use of the browser as a distribution platform for “virtual” experiences
Explore how current best practices for web development can be applied to ATSC 3.0
Nebraska Public Media Labs - Values & Personality
Our departmental core values are the foundation for our identity and strategy. All of our messages, actions, and communications must be rooted in these values and reflect our personality.
Content in Context - We create quality content that provides a context relevant to the subject matter.
Audience Focus - With clearly defined audiences in mind, we design and deliver media products that support communities.
Effective Process - We seek agility and efficiency in all that we do, so that we may afford creativity.
Craftsmanship - We respect skills earned through experience, celebrate curiosity, and value mastery of craft.
Perseverance - We apply discipline and confidence to work through challenges.
Humility - We strive to be humble, trustworthy, and respectful as we work through the creative process with our team, colleagues and collaborators outside the organization.
Versatility - We respect and celebrate the individuality of our team’s members and believe that diverse skill sets and different points of view result in the greatest creations.
Diversity & Inclusion - We are committed to diversity and inclusion in the staff we seek to hire, in the stories we tell, and in the experiences we create.
We support the Nebraska Public Media mission of enriching lives and engaging minds by connecting communities and celebrating Nebraska with services that educate and enlighten. We tell a wide range of stories in the arts, sciences, and humanities; capture dynamic performances of art, sport and intellect; document the majesty of both the natural and manmade worlds; and develop educational media that respect and elevate the learner.
Using traditional and emerging digital and multimedia storytelling tools, we create, curate, and deliver compelling content designed to reflect, engage, and inspire the communities we serve.
Create - We use emerging and traditional electronic media—video, audio, text, photography, xR, and data visualization—to tell stories. We create engaging, trustworthy content and products. We take our time, embracing a laboratory model that allows our content and products to incubate toward success.
Curate - We create with clearly defined audiences in mind and always with the goal of appealing to a wide range of users. We archive and organize materials in consistent and intuitive ways that allow users to either follow prescribed narratives or explore on their own.
Deliver - We seek to reach audiences through Nebraska Public Media content and websites, and through partnerships with collaborators outside the organization. We design reliable platforms and build user interfaces that provide an engaging and immersive user experience.