While reading MapMyFollowers is a Great Twitter Data Visualization on ReadWriteWeb this morning, I saw this ad for a new graduate program offered by Columbia University:
I know, the fact that someone paid attention to an ad is almost newsworthy unto itself these days.
But what a fascinating program! I’ve remarked before that journalism is one of the few professions that’s suffering more disruption than marketing (for many of the same reasons). Here’s an attempt by one of the world’s leading journalism schools — now partnered with a top computer science department, if I may stroke my alma mater — to tackle this challenge head on with deep integration between journalism and hard-core software engineering.
If you visit the school’s page on Dual-Degree: Journalism & Computer Science, their program brochure starts with this call to arms:
Columbia University’s innovative dual-degree program, accepting its first students in 2011, will offer a Master of Science in computer science and journalism. Students will receive highly specialized training in the digital environment, enabling them to develop technical and editorial skills in all aspects of computer-supported news gathering and digital media production. The goal of the program is for its graduates to refine and create new news gathering and digital media technologies that will redefine journalism as we know it.
If you substitute “journalism” with “marketing,” and replace “news” with “customer,” this would sound like a killer program for fostering a new generation of marketing technology leaders. Instead of two semesters in the journalism school and three semesters in the engineering school, simply swap those two semesters in the journalism school with two semesters in the business school on a marketing concentration track.
Wired wrote a terrific article on this program earlier this year, Will Columbia-Trained, Code-Savvy Jouranlists Bridge the Media/Tech Divide? The heart of their vision is not merely aligning IT and journalism, but fusing the two disciplines together:
The Columbia program … seeks to attack the barrier between journalists and the increasingly important IT professionals whose web and digital savvy are crucial to any form of news gathering, reporting and delivery. The problem: users really don’t know what to ask developers for (or how), and developers have no real idea what their software will need to do in the hands of the users.
“The IT Department [at a news organization] comes up with software programs that the journalists don’t use; the journalists ask for software that is computationally unrealistic,” said Julia Hirschberg, professor of computer science at the Columbia’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. “We aim to produce a new generation of journalists who will understand both fields.”
Again, substitute “journalists” with “marketers.” The list of technologies that Wired reports these new graduates are hoped to contribute include:
- Automated journalism modules
- Data visualization
- Deep data mining and analysis
- Device-driven journalism
- Digital trust
- Identifying under-reported events
- Next-generation narrative
Who will create the marketing/computer science version of this? A master’s degree in computational marketing?