Category Archives: news

Blackberry Riots

What can I say, the lootings in London once again demonstrate that social media is penetrating every aspect of our lives. Both Mashable and the Guardian reported this week that looters organised themselves using the Blackberry BBM messaging service. According to both sources rioters chose Blackberry as the weapon of choice because the messaging service is free and used by a wide number of people in the UK.

Here’s a video that sums up Blackberry’s role in the riots.

So how did Mashable and The Guardian report on this?

Mashable

‘London riots: Blackberry Messenger used more than Facebook or Twitter’

I’m very impressed with the layout of the Mashable webpage to the point where its more entertaining than the actual content. So I shall talk about it first!

Layout

I often read Mashable and I’m always very happy with the hyperlinks they provide within the text. It’s very relevant and interesting. The hyperlinks themselves almost tell the story in images. In this article the hyperlinked words/phrases were:

‘Blackberry’, ‘Facebook group quickly sprung up’, ‘particular post on the Facebook page’, ‘BBM’, ‘a recent study’, ‘got its hands on BBM messages directing rioters’, ‘Research in Motion’ and ‘this tweet’.

Interestingly, the ‘Blackberry’, ‘BBM’ and ‘Research in Motion’ hyperlinks lead back to Mashable’s ‘topic’ sections which give you the option to follow them to get the latest updates. I guess this is a good way to self promote with out overt…self promotion.

The social media bar on Mashable slides up and down with you as you scroll through the page meaning its never out of sight and you always have the quick option of sharing on twitter, facebook, tumbler and so on. Page itself has a three column layout where the right hand side column has interactive and static ads.

Now to the actual content:

Mashable tends to regurgitate information it gathers from other news sources which also explains why it has so many hyperlinks.

The Guardian

‘London riots: how Blackberry Messenger played a key role’

A quote from the former deputy mayor of London is kinda evidence that reporters actually got out of the office and went to get an interview. The image supplementing the story is not stock footage (it comes from a photographic press agency) and is quite effective to communicate the action of the story.

London riots: a looted O2 mobile phone store in Tottenham Hale retail park. Photograph: Ray Tang/Rex Features
The Layout
The page layout is definitely less ‘social’ than the one created by Mashable. The online Guardian seems to be an extension of the print version, I don’t think they’ve gone far enough to engage with the readers the way Mashable has, but Mashable of course is all about digital tech, so its a bad comparison.

 

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Filed under communication, information, new media, news

goCatch app controversy

Andrew Campbell and Ned Moorfield

GoCatch is a smartphone app that allows passengers and taxi drivers see each other’s current location on an GPS map. Passengers can request the closest cab by making a booking via the app. The app’s goal is to make the taxi system more efficient by providing passengers with a faster service and taxi drivers with more jobs.

Its developers received funding from the government and have since launched goCatch across several states including Victoria, Queensland and NSW.
Not everyone is happy about that though. NSW Taxi Council is not happy, as reported by the media sources listed above.

Sydney Morning Herald

Digital Media

The article has a well rounded collection of opinions from both sides.

I felt the article was slightly biased against the app, but I didn’t know why. After squinting at individual sentences and picking them apart I came to the conclusion that quotes taken from app developer Mr. Campbell are a good device used to emphasize the angle. Here they are:

“So if someone is not a taxi driver, downloads it and drives around in their old beat-up Commodore or something then when they actually arrive to pick you up as a passenger you’ll see that they’re not a driver and you can immediately report them or whatever.”

and

“So when a taxi arrives, you need to sort of use your own common sense and make sure it is a taxi before you get in it. Don’t get into a taxi if it’s not a taxi I suppose.”

The quotes make the developer appear slightly dismissive of the issue, which I’m sure he’s not, but its a good choice of language to manipulate the reader’s opinion.

Layout:

Hyper-linking: present! SMH hyper-linked the words ‘NSW Taxi Council’, ‘goCatch’ and ‘Collaborative Solutions’ (which is the name of the govt. initiative that supported goCatch)

Reporter’s Twitter link: present!

Comment functionality: absent! How, how, how can the DIGITAL life section of  SMH lack the comment functionality? Ironic, huh

The Telegraph.com.au

This article took an angle that was more sympathetic towards the goCatch app. These quotes from Andrew Campbell highlight a different side of the story to the one told by SMH and Brisbane Times.

“The taxi industry is dominated and some people say monopolised by powerful industry stakeholders.”

“Because it is a largely monopolised, self-regulated industry, there is simply no incentive for improvements in efficiency, customer service, driver conditions, safety and standards in general.”

Layout:

My favourite functionality of the page was the Related Coverage box embedded in the article.

Why? Because it actually contained related coverage.  Stories concerning the taxi industry, taxi drivers and passengers.

On the bottom, a tool bar listing such social media widgets as MySpace, Yahoo and Digg presented itself to readers.

Very useful.

I think covering goCatch is newsworthy because the news is timely (it comes after the Taxi Council’s comments), it has proximity (the app is australian), it is relevant (we all use taxis from time to time), it has conflict (the clash between the new and the old systems of taxi booking) and it has currency (because there are other similar apps and lots of issues both legal and social to explore)

 

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Filed under digital technology, new media, news, social media

Two Ways Twitter has Changed the Way We Consume Information

The way Osama Bin Laden’s Death broke on Twitter gave rise to new questions about its role  as an informational hub and the role of the audience in generating news. In my opinion,

  1. Twitter has changed the way in which people search for information
  2. It has also provided certain individuals with the power to influence and generate news

The truly innovative aspect of Twitter is that people are able to search for and find news that have not yet been broadcast, written about or published.This was the case with the news about Osama Bin Laden’s death.

According to Fast Company the interest of the public was sparked when the White House announced an urgent presidential address. Amongst this demand for information  Keith Urbahn’s news breaking tweet about Osama Bin Laden’s death was spread freakishly quickly.

Urbahn’s power to create  news came because his information responded to the public demand.

It was only because his tweet coincided with the most talked about topic and the time at which it was delivered that it had such prevalence. This demonstrates is that unlike traditional media that used to ‘push’ news towards the consumer, Twitter provides a place where people can ‘pull’ the right information from their network.

Just want to show you a Twitter visualisation that demonstrates how information networks are created on Twitter. I know the topic has nothing to do with what I’m talking about but I thought it was a good visual example!

It seems that information is trusted when it either comes from a variety of unrelated, unbiased sources or if it is provided by influential and credible individuals.

This guy’s quote, published by Arnnet perfectly describes how info trust is built:

“After first seeing one or two tweets on the subject, I quickly did a hashtag search to verify that what I was reading was being referenced by a large number of people and linked to a reputable news source. After that little process, I felt as though I could trust what I was reading and that I had been informed of the news from many different vantage points, each with independent motivations, backgrounds, national histories. I find that process much more trustworthy than listening to a single TV station.”

The way the news broke also makes it possible to suggest a profile of the twitterer who can successfully act as an influential citizen journalist. The key individuals in the OBL case were Keith Urbahn, the former Chief of Staff in Donald Rumsfeld’s office and Brian Stelter, a digital media reporter for the New York Times, who re-tweeted Urbahn’s tweet.

Both were professionals in their respective fields and both were active on Twitter during the crucial time. Although Urbahn had a relatively small following of 1016 people, according to Social Flow he “had the right combination of influential people reading his tweet and confidence in the accuracy of the information.” This of course included Brian Stelter who was not only a reliable source but also had a huge Twitter following of 57 535 people. When he re-tweeted Urbahn’s tweet it was spread by his following, making the news viral.

Based on this information I am suggesting that the successful citizen journalist on Twitter must be credible and reliable, he or she must be timely in providing information and they must have the right twitter following. This can either be a very large following but most importantly it must contain the right people.In other words the twitterer must have influence.

Here is a list of most influential twitter users.

You can use Twitter Grader to find out how influential a particular twitter user is.

I found this tool really cool too. It lets you search for influential people who are interested in the same things you are.

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Filed under citizen journalism, communication, digital media, digital technology, information, journalism, new media, news, Uncategorized