There was a bit of noise on Twitter both during media140 and after it on the extent of ‘obvious stating’ going on at the event. Much of this comment was of a critical nature – ‘they don’t get it’; referring to the somewhat Twitter-sceptical journalists in the room. The bigger players there (Sky and the BBC) indulged in a bit of un-necessary and rather tedious sparring. Both of them, I suppose, feeling secure in their knowledge that their respective ‘market’ power and ‘broadcast’ mode will leave them largely unchanged by the openess and pervasiveness of social media generally and Twitter in particular. Hmmm.
Following media140, I’ve been reading blogs and the press coverage – reportage mostly; who said what and with little commentary or analysis about what it all means. Perhaps it’s too scary for the Potential Legacy Media (currently known as MSM) to think about? And sometimes that means the obvious needs a bit of stating.
As part of the ‘post match’ coverage there was an interesting if largely self-referential segment on pods and blogs on R5Live with journalists and a thoughtful comment from Mark Jones of Reuters who also provided some excellent comment and analysis on his Reuters blog.
Those of you who liveblog events will know the level of concentration it needs. Using Scribblelive actually increases the level of complexity as you try to bring in other people’s tweets, try to avoid too much duplication (most sole tweeters at events do so in realtime and there’s often duplication in the aggregated stream). Trying to join in, provide some realtime feedback and combine inputs is ‘not for the faint-hearted’ as the Scribblelive people say!
In the next sections, I provide some thoughts on media140 after reflecting on the issues, the coverage and my own liveblog and Audioboos made at the time; I name the presenters in the Audioboos and you can also refer to the Agenda.
The 140 Character story
This panel kept bouncing off the argument – they had a silly discussion about whether Twitter was journalism or not. And we kind of forgot the ‘realtime news’ tagline of the entire event. What was missing for me was:
- What the aggregation of information carried across Twitter enables (the analogy from Bill Thompson of the Twitter ‘seismograph’ is insightful);
- The speed at which news can propagate through memes and hashtags and the level of self-organisation enabled by this form of cooperative production (Retweets, comments, links to blog posts, realtime and near realtime video streams and websites); and,
- The need to filter true signals from the sheer noise and volume of the information available.
Sources, editorial control and workflow
The panel did discuss the risks of ‘opening up’ the news process and the potential impacts on the way news is made and perceived. I wonder what happens to the ‘news cycle’ in a General Election when many of us have access to realtime video production on our mobile phones or can report events directly as they happen over Twitter? We’ll find out soon!
The panel focused on the risks. An example of the risks seems to have been happening while the event was on, but I’m not sure anyone realised it.
Skynews.com used Coveritlive to add a Tweetstream to their site. There seems to have been no filtering so there was lots of spam. And seemingly little editorial control over the Tweets. Just what risks Sky may have been running can be imagined; the links to ‘goldencasinoflash’ could have been links to anything. Anything at all….
My Tweets were being carried live by Skynews also – even though I was effectively doing competing realtime coverage using a rival platform to Sky. I don’t know to what extent there was active editorial control of the Tweetstream – the amount of spam they let through might suggest very little?
One of the few times in the event when the room went really quiet and people listened really hard was when Guy Degen, freelance journalist and a member of the Frontline Club, played some audio and video footage from Tblisi. He was sent there on his own for Deutsche Welle; he had no gear and no time to get any, no crew and used a mobile phone to cover a riot. Frontline indeed.
Kevin Anderson was insightful on the impact of social media on reporting on a roadtrip style assignment in the USA.
Local and human
Local news = newspapers? #fail
Joanne Jacobs ably chaired the final panel session and brought the whole event back pretty much on time so kudos to her. It was an interesting and stimulating panel – and you can pick up some of the flavour of the discussion from pp 6-8 of the liveblog.
Given what’s happening in local and regional news, the discussion after the short presentations seemed to spiral into being about newspapers. But surely local news is going to be much more than papers – but I can see there’s a painful transition to go through for a lot of people. Some of the more ‘gung ho’ social mediarati might like to think about that.
No-one mentioned the ‘backchannel’
The backchannel (what happens in the social media space during an event or presentation) didn’t get a mention.
Here’s an example from media140:
I first came across the backchannel in tech conferences in the USA about 5 years ago – using chat room software over local wireless networks and, in some instances allowing external participants ‘listening-in’ to audio streams to interact with the chat. All these messages were projected on a screen behind the speaker so it was generally impossible both to present to the audience and watch the backchannel at the same time. The backchannel often had more stimulating and interesting stuff on it than was happening on the panel. And dangerous sometimes for both speaker and audience. I remember taking my PowerBook onto the stage and using it in a panel session both to contribute to the backchannel and comment on what other panelists were saying. Apparently, this was unusual at the time. The audience reaction was interesting!
So it seems to me that the Potential Legacy Media faces the same risks as a pompous or tedious speaker in perpetual broadcast mode with an active backchannel. Like a politician giving the answer to a question the interviewer didn’t ask, the risks of audience alienation are high. And when the real backchannel turns against you, as it has for our MPs recently, life can get very unpleasant.
Being Human and Connecting
Jeff Pulver over a quite good Skype video link finished off on an optimistic note. We can move from a position where the one-way broadcast mode can become much more interactive. It has to be more than ‘promotion’; it must be much more about connection. Above all, it’s about being human and taking that humanity with us into social media spaces and connecting.