Audiophotography and Digital Media

“Knowledge-based innovation has the longest lead time of all innovations. There is, first, a long time span between the emergence of new knowledge and its becoming applicable to technology. And then there is another long period before the new technology turns into products, processes or services in the marketplace”, Drucker 1985, p98).

Out in front of the CoDE team’s unofficial contest for Furthest Travelled this summer is David Frohlich, who is giving two invited talks on his new book Fast Design, Slow Innovation: Audiophotography Ten Years On in Toronto and Rochester NY in August. The Rochester talk is at Rochester Institute of Technology on 29th August and the Toronto talk is at the IARIGAI 2016 conference 24-27th August.

As well as updating the manifesto for an audio photography technology and practice, David’s book addresses issues in design history, the social shaping of technology, and the management of innovation. In particular, it reveals the very different timescales over which design and innovation operate, and the way in which design ideas evolve across different research groups, companies and application areas.

The capture of photographs with sound is a simple idea, proposed 10 years ago, that has still not become widespread. In this new edition of David’s seminal 2004 book on Audio photography, he asks “Why?” A journey through the book’s citations and related commercial products shows considerable progress in understanding the role of sound in photography, and myriad design experiments to support audio visual storytelling as a new media form. The book is a story in itself about the “long nose of innovation”, and a lesson about the need for patience and persistence in the computer industry. To reinforce this point, five of the 2004 chapters are re-published in their original form. These describe invariant properties of ambient musical, talking and conversational photographs, and the possibility of playback from paper as well as screen.

David reports, ‘The two books represent two phases of innovation in this area, mentioned by Drucker in the quote above. Book 1 was 8 years in the making and book 2 about 11.’

Fast Design, Slow Innovation is going to prove invaluable to researchers and designers of new media systems and experiences, and to innovation scholars or managers looking for a ten year case study of innovation in action.

David’s work in digital media always makes for interesting hearing, especially in CoDE’s Research Seminar series, which will be resuming soon. If you’d like to hear what David and the rest of CoDE are working on, please get in touch to find out more about the seminars.

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About the Author : Kris Henley

Communications and Outreach for Surrey Business School's Centre for the Digital Economy, a newly-founded research centre to explore the implications of the Digital Economy for business, government and society.