Chris O'Brien

Chris O'Brien is a business reporter at the San Jose Mercury News where he has covered Silicon Valley since 1999. Previously, he was a staff writer at The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., for seven years. He graduated from Duke University in 1991, and was an editor at the student-run, independent daily newspaper, The Chronicle.

by Chris O'Brien

Over the weekend, TechCruch’s confessed “old media snob” Paul Carr posted an interesting response to my call for more newsgames. In the post, Mr. Carr was quite complimentary to my overall reasoning, but differed in one fundamental respect: Maybe I’m getting old. Certainly I’m an old media journalism snob. But the fact is, when faced [...] more »

by Chris O'Brien

This past weekend a group of 25 game developers, academics and journalists gathered at the University of Minnesota’s Journalism Center to examine the state of newsgames. While it can be a slippery term to define, generally speaking newsgames covers a wide range of game-like experiences from puzzles to graphically-rich presentations that convey some kind of [...] more »

by Chris O'Brien

One of the biggest emerging conversations over the past year in Silicon Valley is around “gamification.” Simply put, this is the idea of applying game mechanics, particularly those found in videogames, to all sorts of non-game experiences. After following this conversation for many months, I’ve come to believe that over the next decade gamification will [...] more »

by Chris O'Brien

Why will people spend $1 to send you a virtual beer on Facebook, but not to read a news story online? On the surface, it defies logic. I think most people would agree that whatever economic value news and information has, it’s greater than a virtual piece of clothing, or something that gives your avatar [...] more »

by Chris O'Brien

Something that’s been lurking just below the surface of the San Francisco Bay Area news scene for several months finally bubbled up to the top last month. Financier Warren Hellman announced the creation of a new, non-profit news organization. This news organization will partner with KQED, the the Graduate School of Journalism at the University [...] more »

by Chris O'Brien

Earlier this week, I spent two days at the TechCrunch 50 conference in San Francisco. The conference organizers pick 50 web companies who officially launch at the conference. The overall group was pretty mixed, but a few start-ups offer interesting services or ideas that might be of interest to folks thinking about the future of [...] more »

by Chris O'Brien

My post last month — Future of Local News About More Than Paid Content — generated some thoughtful discussion and comments. But there was one thread that I want to highlight in order to elaborate on an important concept for news innovators. Before I dive into the details of the conversation, let me summarize my [...] more »

by Chris O'Brien

During an otherwise mundane story about Microsoft’s recent decision to offer a free, web-based version of its Office suite of products, I was struck by this sentence in an Associated Press story: With Office 2010, Microsoft must decide how much software it can give away online without undermining its lucrative desktop software business. If it [...] more »

by Chris O'Brien

One of the great tragedies that I see in the current debate about the future of journalism is the way the discussion continues to be framed around a series of binary choices. Newspapers or blogs. Print or online. Journalists or algorithms. In each case, there seems to be a simple-minded belief that the future will [...] more »

by Chris O'Brien

A few weeks ago, I was reading an interesting story about the state of the Columbia Journalism School that appeared on the New York Magazine website. In short, the story tried to examine concerns about how well Columbia was making the transition to the digital journalism era. After reading the story, I dutifully tweeted a [...] more »