Our constantly changing visual world in an iPad app nutshell, as Reuters sees it …
By Dominique James
Whenever we get around to talking about what it means to be human, we oftentimes fall for the nebulous idea that is born out of our natural inclination to aggregate, and then summarize, the totality of human experience. We take a deep breath, and then try to describe the concept in a sweeping and all-encompassing way; which is sweet, but we know such attempts never really satisfy. It is lacking, and therefore failing, because by doing so we really have nothing concrete to hold on to. It is a bubble that bursts to the touch, so to speak. We really have no handle on the idea.
Until now, that is, in perhaps what can be considered to be in the humble guise of Reuter’s new iPad app, The Wider Image. (Link to free download on the Apple App Store.)
If you don’t know it yet, Reuters, the news division of Thompson Reuters, is the world’s “largest international news agency.” And Reuters Pictures, under Reuters of course, is a ‘global network of 600 photographers [that] distributes 1,600 pictures each day—over half a million each year.”
Naturally, for such an organization producing a growing treasure trove, it is obviously not enough to simply license 5 million images to media outlets, not when there’s an opportunity to tell the many compelling stories from these images directly through its own iPad app.
Reuters says that through The Wider Image iPad app, it hopes to “reimagine the way news photography can engage through evolving platforms, to position imagery at the heart of multimedia and to realize the unique potential of photojournalism.”
Now, that sounds quite lofty, but there is something about this guiding principle that’s actually true and downright honest, and it becomes very apparent once you experience news and information via The Wider Image iPad app.
Unlike most news and information that may be consumed through the iPad or other media and platform, the pictures and stories from The Wider Image iPad app does not try to grab and shake and jolt you out of your wits and sensibilities. Though many of the news and information are, by its very nature, somehow unusual or different, and therefore compelling and newsworthy, nothing appears to be sensationalized or spun. And other than telling you as-is, it also gives you the right and proper context to understand it for what it is. What it does is that it ever so gently holds your hand, and leads you slowly to paths where the labyrinth of human affairs from all over the world are revealed. What a way to show respect for its audience!
At first, many of the stories may seem remote and far removed from the cares and concerns of your day-to-day life, but as you look at the pictures, and read the texts, and watch the videos, you will be struck by connections. You will soon realize that there are indeed countless threads, seemingly invisible, that actually bind us, and therefore of inherent interest to us all.
It is not hyperbole to say that, perhaps, when looking at each and every magnificent, powerful picture, you will be moved to tears—not of sadness, not even of joy, but in being able to actually learn from, and more essentially, to share in and connect with, the many amazing and incredible facets of the so-called human experience.
The individual and the sum total of photographs in Reuter’s The Wider Image iPad app, its presentations, through each and every story that is told, touch something deep inside us and make us feel what it really is like to be a part of, or to belong to, humankind. It is an emotional embrace of humanity. Ultimately, the pictures and stories tell us something we already know but keep forgetting (or even ignoring)–whether we like it or not, we are inescapably all in this together.