Social media as the news

The last couple of posts on this blog have been stimulated by the scope and very public use of social media as tools during the US Presidential election campaign. This morning I shared some discussion on Seesmic with two contacts, one in the US, one in the UK. We chatted about the way the BBC and VoxAfrica had used Seesmic as well as Phreadz and 12 Seconds to grab vox-pops for their own website presentation Have Your Say. Some of these grabs were also screened on television. You can trawl through my discussion by clicking on the My Seesmic Conversations box.

Twitter made it through the madness of election day without any fails by the whale. Indeed, in the past couple of days I’ve been aware of a growing awareness and use of Twitter here in Australia. Numbers of users are increasing … there’s a Twitter survey doing the rounds to find out which city has the greatest number of users … and those users are Twittering the heck out of the service.

Calling sports events … well you’d expect that down here … was all the rage during the Olympics, the AFL Grand Final, and the Melbourne Cup earlier this week. I noticed the same thing happening during the baseball World Series a week or so ago. Sports fans can call the games a little too enthusiastically. If you don’t like the stream of scores and comment, you can mute it all and turn your contacts back on after the game with a smart-looking little Twitter client called Twalala.

Of course Twitter has its sober side. After SMS texting, Twitter is perhaps the most accessible of the array of social networking tools that include blogs, video reporting on mobile phones and online in other sites like YouTube. Weather reports, ideas and information transmission, calls for help and disaster reports have all been Tweeted. Yesterday, as the US election results were emerging, Twitter did service in providing the latest calls and commentary to a world bursting for news. The immediacy of Twitter provides the sort of instant gratification and social activity that we crave, with a sweet subversion of centralised media networks.

Here’s a video from TED by James Suroweiki who speaks about the day social media became an equal player in news gathering. On Boxing Day 2005, parts of South East and Southern Asia were devastated by a Tsunami. Social media reported and chronicled that event. News gathering has not been the same since.

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4 responses to “Social media as the news”

  1. tj sondermann Avatar

    Thanks for the mention of twalala! Just wanted to let you and your readers know that we're working furiously on an updated version that will fix the bugs in the current incarnation as well as add some requested features.

    I'd be keenly interested in what your readers think of twalala, specifically if they have ideas for improving the client.


  2. CharlieO Avatar

    Hi Kate,

    I really enjoyed your contributions to Paul Bradshaw's thread on Seesmic. I particularly agree with your suggestions that a Seesmic thread is akin to an academic seminar. Do you think this 'feel' can be maintained as the service grows in size?

    I hope they manage to avoid YouTube-comment-syndrome (where you find endless pages of abusive, mindless 'contributions'). I think Seesmic is really benefiting from still being a closed alpha/beta service at the moment – the quality of the people makes for cracking conversations. Acadmeic seminars are good because the door closes when a group of like minded people with a common interest have sat down in the room. How can a web service do the same without putting new users off I wonder…

  3. Kate Foy Avatar

    Thanks Charlie. I hope the feel of conversation can be maintained as Seesmic grows. It's been promising 'rooms' where special-interest groups or 'seminar spaces' could be established to help structure and focus the flow of conversation. Meantime it's possible to have private conversations and these can and do happen off the public timeline if the topic is tricky or personal!

    Early, intriguing days … and we're still wrangling our relationship with the medium. Fun too.

  4. Kate Foy Avatar

    I've been watching some grabs from the current Web 2.0 summit posted on to Seesmic. The formidable Al Gore who was addressing the summit is certainly aware of the political and commercial implications of social media … and as for the role government should have in the internet … “very little indeed.”

    Oh and you can follow Al on Twitter @al_gore

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