Truth, Lies and Perception

The highlight of yesterday’s 17th Hewlett-Packard Colloquium at Royal Holloway University of London was an excellent talk by Ian Curry, CISO of Reuters, which gave a fascinating insight into what Information Security means to a top Information Provider. As Ian put it, we are on “the cusp of a fundamental change in the way we consume information”. And Reuters – like all media companies – must re-invent itself to respond to the revolution in personal communications generated by the Internet.

For Reuters, amongst other things, this means becoming more of an editor of privately generated news items (like mobile phone photographs) rather than relying solely on a private international network of trusted reporters and photographers. It also means taking great care to control the integrity and accuracy of its information. Because a single, doctored image discovered by the Blogosphere might be spun into a crisis of confidence. It’s a real challenge but a great opportunity for Information Security. It will involve, for example, exploring new technologies that might help confirm the provenance and accuracy of text and images. But at the heart of it all is the importance of strengthening and maintaining Reuters’ core values of independence, freedom from bias, integrity and accuracy. Because your reputation is only as good as your last story or photograph.

As a futurist, I’m always interested in the long-term impact of new trends. So what’s my take on the future of News? Well, personally I’ve always been cynical about the doomsayers’ claims that real news might eventually die. If you’re interested in their line of reasoning then you must watch the flash movie EPIC 2014, a classic, visionary piece of work, which introduced the word Googlezon to the English language. But this is the same logic that predicted that Movies would kill Theatre, that TV would kill Film, that Video would kill TV, etc. Old media don’t have to die, they just need to adapt their business model and marketing.

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