Tuesday, 10 March 2009

The Future of the News - Twitter and Wikipedia

The traditional news agencies like Reuters, AP and AFP have bee
n challenged by amateurs in breaking news situation at least since 2004, but the competetion has never been as fierce as now.

First, there were several ad hoc blogs, which break the news and images about the devastating influence of 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and Tsunami. Later, 2005 Hurricane Katrina demonstrated that also the local news media New Orleans' Times-Picayune could organize a succesful news blog (NOLA.com) in times of a disaster. After the London bombings 2005 the Londoners used their mobile phones to take and send images to the news media hours before professional camera crews arrived to document the aftermath.

But now, it seems, that mainly two citizen media platforms, or services, are used in breaking news situations: Wikipedia and Twitter.

The Wikimedia Foundation (founded 2003) relocated its headquarters from St. Petersburg, Florida, to San Francisco in the early 2008. It has been argued that Wikipedia beat the traditional news media for example in Shootings at Virginia Tech, April 2007 . However, Wikipedia's strenght is in its ability to collect, and organize effectively large amount of timely and relevant information.

The newest addition into the tool box of breaking news for the accidental witnesses is Twitter (founded 2006). The instant message service from San Francisco has grown rapidly in recent months, and not least because of the positive feedback, and strong media attention after these news events:

October 2007: The fires in California
May 2008: Nasa inform the public about the Mars Phoenix Lander mission
November 2008: Mumbai attacks
January 2009: The inauguration of president Barack Obama (and his use of Twitter during his election campaign)
January 2009: US Airways Flight ditched in the Hudson River in New Yor City (first photo)
April 2009: Protesters used Twitter as a rallying tool in Moldova
June 2009: To organize protests against the disputed results of a presidential elections in Iran, to convey information to the outside world, and
Real-Time criticism of CNN's Iran Coverage
September 2009: Typhoon in Philippines
January 2010: Haiti Earthquake and aftermath

I will predict that by using these two San Franciscan social media tools, the network of millions of textmessaging, and photo-shooting citizens will easily beat the professional journalists several times in the future. Twitter is in the frontline of real-time news, and Wikipedia is the almost-real-time Encyclopedia of current events. Linking these two new "news wires" together one can be easily update the breaking news. It is no wonder that Google, Facebook, and the other news aggregators need hastily upgrade their information-gathering processes in order to compete with Twitter. In the attention business the new global pastime is: real-time twittering.

According to the Los Angeles Times: " It’s a public messaging system — more like radio than e-mail — you don’t need to be real-life ‘‘friends’’ with a person to tune in to his feed, you just need to be interested."

Latest news

TechnologyReview: Can Twitter Make Money? (March/April 2010)
Blog Maverick:
Rupert Murdoch to Block Google = Smart = Twitter has changed it all (9.11.2009)

Twitter Finds Growth Abroad With 58.4 Million Global Visitors In September (26.10.2009)

C/Net: Twitter hits 5 billion tweets (19.10.2009)
RotorBlog: Social Media Tools that Save Lives (30.9.2009)
The San Francisco Chronicle: Is e-commerce the answer to Twitter's future? (19.6.2009)
The Washington Post: News Finds Fresh Niche On Twitter, Site's Users Spread The Word in Real Time (15.6.2009)
Scientists warn of Twitter dangers (14.4.2009)

NYT: Putting Twitter’s World to Use (13.4.2009)
C/Net: Worm infiltrates Twitter (11.4.2009)
comScore: Twitter Traffic Explodes...And Not Being Driven by the Usual Suspects! (7.4.2009)

TechCrunch/Washington Post: YouTube Adds A Twitter Button (26.3.2009)
WSJ: Business Week Jumps on Twitter Bandwagon (23.3.2009)
MSNBC: Twitter Could Predict Next Flu Pandemic? (19.3.2009)
CNet: Nielsen: Twitter's growing really, really, really, really fast (19.3.2009)
The Washington Post/TechCrunch: Twitter Experimenting With Text Advertising (16.3.2009)

"Biz Stone told Reuters on Wednesday that Twitter aims to figure out a revenue model in 2009, an acceleration of its previous 2010 timetable."

Reuters:Twitter not seeking merger, co-founder says (12.3.2009)

"The not quite 3-year-old San Francisco-based company says its user base has grown by 900% in the last year alone. Last month the company accepted an additional $35 million in venture capital, too, a hint that investors see potential where skeptics don’t."

Los Angeles Times: On Twitter, mindcasting is the new lifecasting (11.3.2009)

The Washington Post/TechCrunch:
The Amount And Value Of Twitter Traffic (12.3.2009)
Yes, CEOs Should Facebook And Twitter (11.3.2009)
CNet News:
PR firm launches Twendz: A Twitter trend analyzer (11.3.2009)
Chicago Tribune:
Celebrities take to Twitter, but for most, it's a one-way tweet
CNet News:
Hands-on with the new Facebook home page
New Website Aims to Make Twitter History - and $1 Million
AFP via Google: San Francisco mayor "tweets" as California politics goes Twitter (11.3.2009)

Latest video interviews

"Only about half users are from the U.S. Japan is big for us. - - The UK has actually exploded recently, UK is the second biggest."

"We did terrible first year and half, actually, when the site went down a lot, was slow alot. And it took a long time for us to get out of that. It almost killed us, I think."

"What can be really interesting is when you get the crowd, and sort of have the collective intelligence. You synthetize that and do more with that. We have a search function that which is really popular. The Mumbai case you could type in and see what everyone was saying. I think there is really interesting potential if we can synthesize more intelligence out of that. - - It has to be algorithmic, or crowd source editing, somehow. We can detect signals about what is interesting, depend on how people react to the content, and reputation systems." (Evan Williams, 27.2.2009)

Charlie Rose: Evan Williams, CEO and Co-founder of Twitter.com (27.2.2009)

Extra listenings, readings

10, 000 Words: Beyond Twitterfeed: Innovative uses of Twitter in the newsroom (6.4.2009)
CNet/The Real Deal: Intermediate Twitter (podcast, 10.3.2009)
10, 000 Words: The top 7 mistakes new Twitter users make (11.3.2009)
Jimmy Wales (Ted Talks/YouTube): How a ragtag band created Wikipedia


Twittervision 3D

Fun about Twitter

YouTube: Flutter: The New Twitter (3.4.2009)
SuperNews! Twouble with Twitters
The Daily Show with Jon Steward: Twitter Frenzy (2.3.2009)

PS. See my modest Twitter-feed: NewsBusiness