Media and technology: Reality redefined

Students crave visuals, but reading still essential

At Jurong West Secondary School, students use an online annotation tool to analyse visual text.
At Jurong West Secondary School, students use an online annotation tool to analyse visual text.PHOTO: ST FILE

Q. While discussing the media, a related question is how much and what sort of content people consume. In this country, the Government is encouraging people to read more widely and deeply. What's driving this?

ANG Reading is essential because what reading does, which visual doesn't do, is that it frees you to imagine. As Einstein says, imagination is more important than knowledge. So reading allows you to imagine what Red Riding Hood looks like or what Snow White looks like. It makes you more creative, more curious. So reading is really quite critical to our entire development.

I completely understand why people would prefer to see it visually; reading is work, you have to sit down and try to make sense.

I tried an experimented last semester to give an entire lecture without a single Powerpoint slide. The reaction from students was: "Please have at least some Powerpoint slides."

Q. So your audience was demanding it.

COMPELLING CONTENT

At the end of the day, what matters is content, whether it's a written work, it's a video or a game; content has got to be immersive, it's got to engage.

GABRIEL LIM, on engaging the reader with an issue or media product.

ANG Exactly.

MEHTA There are a number of ways of doing this. One way is offering a combination of choices. So, say you're writing a story on Syria, you can offer something in virtual reality or in video. You could invite users to build a game around a scenario planning what they would do in situations.

LIM At the end of the day, what matters is content, whether it's a written work, it's a video or a game; content has got to be immersive, it's got to engage. It's got to bring the reader, the viewer, into the world of possibilities and imagination.

That's something that's important to do, especially from a young age. Today, when you read many websites, for example, it is not just about text and better videos, but also about related complementary pieces, whether it's a game or additional insights, or a separate interview or a quote.

It's building an ecosystem around the consumers, to get them immersed in that, and engaged with a particular issue or media product.

Increasingly, we see this for many media companies. It's no longer just about the game or the TV show. It's about the complementary pieces, including real- life interactions with viewers, through roadshows, events, even licensing and merchandising.

It's called transmedia, or 360 media. But really, it's how you can have at its core, content that's compelling, that's exciting, that engages your consumer - and surrounding it with complementary pieces that deepen that relationship with them."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 24, 2016, with the headline 'Students crave visuals, but reading still essential'. Print Edition | Subscribe