The Next Web has an interesting analysis on The Guardian‘s well-intentioned but ultimately badly-received Twitter account chronicling the 9/11 attacks as if they were 10 years in the past: @911tenyearsago. The article itself has got a pretty good take on the entire affair, but here are my own thoughts on it.
For me, the failure of that account is twofold. Twitter, for better or for worse, is a medium that is for the here and the now. From “What are you doing?” to “What’s happening?”, the purpose of Twitter has always been present-tense. To have an account trapped in the past tweeting about events as if they were happening in the present, is not just incongruous but also misleading and, for those who harbour traumatic memories of that day, very hurtful.
Here’s more proof of my theory that Twitter is a fishmarket.
The background: It’s election time, again. Presidential elections, to be more precise. As part of their election coverage, the Straits Times put out a public call for questions that people wanted to ask the four Presidential candidates at a roundtable discussion they were hosting. The call went out for three days, and members of the public were invited to send in their questions via various online channels – Facebook, Twitter, email, their website.
On Twitter, the call went thus: Ask your question, and tag it with #AskSGPresident.
And so it ran. Fast forward, three days later. The collected questions were cherrypicked and put up for public voting to select the five questions that eventually made it to the roundtable.
From among the 500 questions collected, ST editors came up with a shortlist of 15 questions. Vote for your favourite between now and midnight on Monday. We will pose the top five questions to the presidential hopefuls tomorrow.
Of the fifteen final questions selected, only three came from Twitter. (If the above link breaks – I believe ST only archives their stories online for a week – you can look at the screengrab here.)
Little wonder, when the #AskSGPresident tagstream pretty much looked like this: Continue reading
(Tech news, because this is one particular interest of mine, despite having very little to do with the media per se)
Life just got a lot more interesting in the mobile industry, with Google’s acquisition of Motorola. The news is all over, people are alternatively cheering or freaking out for all sorts of different reasons.
I suppose it was kind of inevitable: with Microsoft cozying up with Nokia and Apple being… well, Apple, it was only a matter of time before Google tossed a (bigger) hat into the mobile manufacturing ring. We’ve known of their intense (and until now, thwarted) interest in mobile phone technology patents, and this seemed like a logical next step.
The idea of Google equating to tech manufacturer will take a while to sink in for me, though. Google has always been a software company to me, a maker of services and ecosystems, free for anybody to adopt into their tech. I wonder if this means future Motorola handsets will come with deep integration of Google services within them, kind of like what Sony-Ericsson is doing with Facebook. Too early to tell yet, but always fun to speculate.
(Top image: “Error” by flickr user Solo)
Earlier today (or by the time I put this up, yesterday) I wrote a post about David Cameron’s clumsy approach in dealing with digital media. In it, I said that governments were struggling with social media in part because it’s so new. I said something along the lines of “five years ago, none of this was around”.
This sentiment was repeated, close to verbatim, by my own Prime Minister, in the National Day Rally that he gave tonight. He said this while addressing a point about engaging citizens both online and in real life.
You can find his whole speech online on YouTube, but the videos are upwards of half an hour each. If you want to watch the relevant bit:
This is what he said, namedropping mrbrown along the way:
I think, face-to-face, on TV, we know how to do it. Engagement online, I think we need to learn to do it better. It’s not easy to do, but it is important, because the digital media is continuing to grow in importance. Five years ago, YouTube was insignificant. Facebook didn’t exist. All you had was mrbrown. Today, mrbrown has a lot of competition. We in Government have a lot of competition, and we have to be able to operate in that space.
So, it turns out that David Cameron seems to think that the appropriate response to the UK riots is to call for the clampdown on social media. RIM, Facebook and Twitter are being hauled in like misbehaving children to see the principal because their services were used by rioters. I quote from this Guardian article that sums it up:
The prime minister told parliament on Thursday that Facebook, Twitter and Research in Motion (Rim), the maker of BlackBerry devices, should take more responsibility for content posted on their networks, warning the government would look to ban people from major social networks if they were suspected of inciting violence online.
It’s all fairly ridiculous.
First of all, blaming the social media platforms for the riots is like blaming Boeing for their planes being hijacked by terrorists – it’s ridiculous and reductive. The medium is not the message. Technology doesn’t cause riots – rioters cause riots.
Secondly, the precedent of cutting off communications in the face of popular unrest is one with a checkered and worrying history. Even in the relentless twenty-four hour news cycle, the events which took place in Egypt are surely not so long ago that people have forgotten what happened. Suggesting draconian measures in the same vein seems like obtuse tone-deafness on Cameron’s part. Continue reading
Journalists want their stories to be read. That’s why they write them. Even in the pursuit of objectivity, even when sticking to the facts and the figures and the numbers, there’s always this idea of “but yeah, what can I do to make this sexier?”
So there was this story. It involved, in a tangential way, a tale of two families. And there was curry involved. It unexpectedly became a sensation online for a brief period of time, because we as a whole have not yet been trained to expect these things. But that I think will eventually change.
I am a journalist. It may not be the designation on my name card, but I work in a newsroom and I earn my keep through the making and breaking of news. I self-identify as a journalist; it is, for all intents and purposes, what I have become.
I have not been a journalist for very long. As of this blog’s inception, I have been one for a little over three months. That counts for nothing. I know nothing, I am a n00b, a nugget. I’m learning on the job, and I learn a lot every day.