A design fiction for the ABC - imagining a new but familiar media experience

For a while in the middle of the last decade I had the honour of leading the wonderful R&D team at the ABC, our national broadcaster. Now, one of the lovely things about working at the ABC is that internal any team has access to their peerless video production capability. When I said I wanted to shoot a design fiction my brilliant producer Astrid Scott got in touch with the production resources team, who knew exactly who to assign. We got a creative and thoughtful videographer and sound recordist who worked collaboratively with us to produce exactly the feel and story we were after.

This story is for an imaginary product – an ABC news feed delivered with your morning coffee, personalised just for you and printed on your receipt. We called it ABC Ticker.

To make the reactions authentic (and as a bit of a research probe) I put out the casting call on Twitter and didn't tell people what to expect. Then we actually built a custom ticker for each of the people based on what we could glean from their social media activity (which it turns out was quite a lot). We stayed up late the night before the shoot updating them so they would be fresh. We asked them to order a coffee and filmed their reactions in real time. So the delight you see in this video is the real thing.

The ABC Ticker never made it into the real world, but what we learnt went into a cycle of research that informed the ABC's approach to personalised news. In a later research phase we built Spoke – a series of experimental apps – launched  in controlled trials around the country. Spoke delivered hyper-localised and personalised news from multiple providers, and showed that it was OK to break a few rules along the way.

The ABC took a lot of that on board and I'm proud to see resonances of Spoke in their approach to news today. But there are still more lessons in that research, and in the spirit of open knowledge sharing we published it. So if you're at the ABC or elsewhere thinking about local and personal news, here's the full report: News, Place and Relevance.