Category Archives: Uncategorized

9/11 and The Birth of New Media

In 2001  I was in year eight. Yet its still a struggle for me to remember that new media didn’t exist the way it does today. I was reminded of that after reading news stories and personal reflections.

Fast Company

Decade Of Disruption: 9/11-Inspired Innovation

Content

The article speaks about different types of innovation. When talking about “social media and crowd journalism” the article reminds us that “ubiquitious social media sharing” didn’t exist, the internet was much less sophisticated and smart phones with in-built cameras weren’t around making it difficult for non professional journalists to share information and images.

The comparison it makes between now and then makes it very easy to see the differences and appreciate how much has changed. It is a very relevant article both because it is timely and because it reminds us that the knowledge we take for granted on a daily basis was not always accessible to us.

Layout

I’ve noticed a difference between Fast Company’s web page layout and the layout of other online media sources. Fast Company puts all the written info on the left and all the extra information such as related coverage and ads on the right. Lots of websites I’ve seen do the opposite or have a three column layout.

Decade of Disruption

The way Fast Company has done it is easier on the eyes because you are not bombarded with as much information and are more focused on the written content. It’s a ‘keep it to the basics’ approach which is great.

Media Rhetoric Blog

How the Internet Changed after 9/11–Citizen Journalism, Social Media and Mobility

Content

This reflection from a university lecturer  (Janet Johnson) who specialises in media described the lack of citizen journalism in 2001 and the void that it left in the coverage and the information flow of the attacks. Here’s a quote which sums it up pretty well.

“Trying to connect to the East Coast during that time was hard. The overload on phone lines was tremendous. I resorted to e-mail to ask my brother what it was like where he lived. My brother and my friends all lived in central New Jersey about an hour from New York City. I tried to connect to CNN.com during that time, but remember the web site’s message that said CNN.com was over capacity and to check back later.”

The writer feels that new media and citizen journalism became prominent to fill a need, a gap that the traditional media is unable to satisfy when unexpected disasters strike. Only those present while it is unfolding can share the most precious and useful information.

The entry was written on September 11 so it is timely, relevant and has currency in the news which are likely to continue covering September 11 from different angles even after the date of the anniversary.

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Anna Politkovskaya

Today Digital can take a back seat. I need to write about something else. Today in Russia Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, a retired police officer has been arrested on suspicion of conspiring to murder Anna Politkovskaya. Chances are you won’t know who she is or why I care.

I shall tell you.  She was a Russian journalist who had the misfortune of being a person with strong moral convictions and democratic beliefs. She did something that most Russians consider extremely stupid and unnecessary-she criticised the Putin administration and the war in Chechnya.

So she was assassinated. Those who cared knew Putin ordered the murder, those who didn’t care said she deserved it for refusing to conform and suck up, like journalists of the state owned media.

Today the media has reported that Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, a police officer who was originally assisting in the investigation of her murder is now a main suspect. Politkovskaya’s family comments that the murder will be solved only when the person who ordered Pavlyuchenkov to organise the crime is named.

I of course looked at both the Russian and Western coverage of the story. Partly because I was skeptical about finding much information in the Russian media. Thankfully I was wrong to doubt Russian coverage and found a few detailed articles about the development of the case. Both Novaya Gazeta and Lenta. Ru covered the story. I liked the fact that Lenta backtracked and explained how Politkovskaya died (gunned down in the lift inside her apartment building), because it provided a more comprehensive picture of the current event.

Politkovskaya worked for Novaya Gazeta which provided no background info as to who Politkovskaya was, indicating that readership would probably be familiar with the story. Novaya Gazeta didn’t insert hyperlinks into the text but Russia is not as tech savy as the West so that really doesn’t surprise me. Lenta on the other hand did provide hyperlinks although the rest of the layout was a bit too ancient in comparison to such online publications as the Economist or Fast Company. At least there were a couple of images to distract from the ugliness of the actual site.

RT also ran an article and reported it on their tv channel (and on youtube).  For those of you unfamiliar with RT (Russia Today), RT is a westernised Russian news media, bringing you an image of Russia, with a western spin. I’m pretty sure its propaganda,(very subtle but still)  but then again I just don’t trust anything originating in Russia….except Airflot airplanes. Something I haven’t seen on an online media site is the ‘download’ button that allows you to download the video news item. Me like, (but me no bothered to use).

Seriously though: I read Politkovskaya’s books, watched her Dateline interview and I came to believe and will continue to believe that she has more guts/courage/pride than any Russian man I am likely to meet here in Australia or back in Moscow.Anna Politkovskaya knew. She knew what she was doing was dangerous and she knew she would be killed for it.

Could any of us do the same?

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Online and Mobile Media Series

As of this week, I am embarking on a new series of blogs about the digital world, for uni. So for the duration of second semester Digital Navigation can morph into a more restrained and restricted version of itself. I will still be posting stuff on digital technology and social media but instead of highlighting aspects that I think are contentious or interesting I will be doing a critique of how media outlets report on digital technologies and social media.

Just a heads up….

Smell ya later.

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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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Osama Bin Laden and Twitter

At this point we are all familiar with this:

I could rave on about Osama Bin Laden related issues for the next five hours. I could tell you that I want to write a letter to the American government saying something like “shhhhh, please be quiet and stop celebrating the murder of a terrorist master lord! You might hurt Al -Qaeda’s feelings!” I could ponder the pros and cons of releasing the photos of OBL’s dead body or re-watch old September 11 documentaries in morbid fascination.

Instead I’m going to say what Osama Bin Laden’s death has done for Twitter. In the international relations/war on terror scheme of things, the way his death broke on Twitter is a trivial matter BUT it is important for the future of news and information spread. It’s important for us, the people who have never had much control over news, to recognize that we can all create news now, one tweet at a time.

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?

Because if you know how information spreads on Twitter, you can spread information on Twitter. Fast. Like wildfire. Like the ripple effect. Like a Lamborghini on the freeway.

But it ain’t easy.

How did people find out about Osama Bin Laden’s death and when? May 1st around an hour before the official presidential announcement by Barack Osama (oops Obama). Here’s good timeline.

People are naturally inquisitive and people who use social networking are neurotically inquisitive. They are addicted to information and they hunt for it like…hunters…SO speculation about what-the-hell-is-going-on began as soon as the White House announced that there would be a presidential address. It was after a bit of a wild guessing game that people began to mention Bin Laden. But at that stage it was still just the blind leading the blind.

FINALLY Keith Urbahn (sorry people, not the singer/husband of Nicole Kidman) tweeted the tweet that made the difference.

Urbahn was a reliable source because of his position as Chief of Staff in the Office of Donald Rumsfeld. The trustworthiness of his information meant that it was re-tweeted by 80 people in the new minute.

His tweet also got re-tweeted by Brian Stelter, a very influential tweeter (he is a machine. I’ve never seen anyone do that many tweets in one day).

And that’s how it took off. The crazy tweetering, digital river of information. And then Obama gave his speech.

For the twitter universe, he was a bit too slow (and a bit too triumphant for my liking).

But you know what? I’m glad that he was too slow. Down with the controlled media. We don’t need it to tell us everything anymore. We can tell each other whatever the hell we want. As long as we have access to information and the right twitter following, we can break news. Of course a lot of elements come into play, but that’s the essence of it.

Social flow did an awesome analysis of how OBL’s death broke on twitter zoomed through the wired world (I just like the pretty graphs). Actually I gonna insert the pretty graph;

Based on what I’ve read and the Social Flow analysis this is the way to break news on Twitter:

  1. Have the information
  2. The news has to be timely. No one will care if it happened a week ago (unless its something massive) or if no one knows about it or its significance.
  3. Be well connected on Twitter. That doesn’t necessarily means have millions of followers, just have the right ones.
  4. People must trust that you’re not the boy/girl crying wolf. Reliability is the key.

I actually think that by using Twitter as an information hub, we are making a statement about the world we live in and about our own role in it. We are shrinking the world and growing our individual significance. News is no longer decided by journalists and the media, nor should it be.

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Filed under communication, communications, digital media, digital technology, journalism, social media, Uncategorized

Twitter-Where Art Thou?

It always baffles me when I see a company website that does not have a twitter account. That’s so much additional exposure lost, yet I see this again and again on Australian websites. Let’s face it people, Australians don’t like Twitter. I can say this with certainty, having heard it said repeatedly at:

1. University (UNSW): My media lectures bring up this deficiency whenever they have the chance saying something like “But of course no one in Australia really uses Twitter” with a  condescending snicker of  disapproval. (UNSW of course has Twitter)

2. Journalists: Annabel Crabb (writing for ABC’s The Drum) and Julie Posetti have both bagged out other journalists for being caveman-like in their ignorance about new media and especially Twitter.

3. People @ TCO (where I intern): When I timidly suggested that they use Twitter to promote their clients, they shook their heads sadly and told me it would never work. It wouldn’t be worth it. “People don’t really use Twitter in Australia”.

I was doing a news story on climate change (why, why,why the hell did I pick that twisted spiderweb as a topic??) and saw that both companies I interviewed for the story didn’t have a Twitter account. I think of it as an opportunity lost, even if not many individuals use Twitter. Companies should still do everything they can to get exposure for their services. Have a look;

Company #1: CO2 Australia: is a carbon offsetting service for companies. Has a blog, yet no Twitter. I would rather look at Twitter than read a long blog entry. Especially if the company is new to me.  Especially if I am another company that HAS Twitter and I am looking at CO2’s services.

Company #2: Get Up! Australia: is a grassroots NGO. Their goal is to hold governments accountable for their policies. And have heaps of ppl join up. No Twitter though.

To me its simple. Yes not many people here use Twitter. Or they have an account and don’t log on (most of my friends are like that). But all people search for services online at one time or another. If they see that little ‘join us on twitter’ thing on the page often enough, they might just do that. And companies might just benefit. Like they do in America.

Everyone wins. So use the damn thing.

Here’s a quick video about why Twitter matters. This dude is way better at explaining it than I am

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Social Media and Disclosure

Just wanted to share something that the CEO of the company I’m interning with tweeted the other day. Kinda sums up the impact of social media, kinda mindblowing.

I love finding stuff like this through random tweets. And I frequently do. The other day I somehow stumbled across National Geographic’s prediction for the most typical person in the world.

I was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t a woman. Always had the impression there were more women than men in the world. Oh well maybe that’s just in Russia.

Anyway the web works in tangled ways. There is an amazing amount of information floating out there, connected in seemingly bizarre and unrelated ways. I just have to give an example, which left me slightly disturbed in many many ways and illustrated how the technology is literally creeping into every aspect of our lives.

I read the blog of Penelope Trunk (you can also find her blog on my blog roll, its called the brazen careerist) and in one her posts she mentioned that Bill Zeller , the programmer who created Mytunes committed suicide. He left a 4000 word essay of a suicide note explaining the reasons behind his decision.

Well curiosity killed the cat. I clicked on the link. I read the whole thing with the fascination of someone who can’t help but stare at the horrific car accident on the side of the road as they pass it by.

It is a very hopeless letter as you can imagine. But how do you think the letter got online in the first place? Bill Zeller sent it via email and apparently he also put it up on his website before hand. And that’s what kinda scares me. The fact that an intensely personal thing like that can circulate globally. What effects will/does it have on other people? Will it help anyone or will it make someone think that suicide is justified in certain circumstances? Or is it both?

I guess what I’m trying to say is;

Social media seems to breed willingness to share the most intimate information. It can offer what face to face interaction cannot. An outlet for despair you might say. The web (if its uncensored) gives you the ability to speak and be heard, and yes, judged while maintaining complete anonymity. You can test drive your most secret hidden dark thoughts and check the responses to see if it might be alright to say these things out loud and get help and support.

In Bill Zeller’s case, the greatest tragedy is that he had the opportunity to do that, to see that many people had gone through the same thing. He could have gotten help. But he didn’t wait.

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