Tuesday, 4th May 2010
Why Twitter Is the Future of News (or Is It?)
Why Twitter Is the Future of News by Christopher Mims (via Technology Review)
Note: If you read/skim/scroll through to the conclusion of this post, we've included a summary of the Why Twitter is the Future... article.
We think the title of this story would be more accurate if it said, "Why Twitter is the Future of News Dissemination." (and we're not so sure about that either).
While the feud (is that what you call it?) between Demi Moore and Kim Kardashian took place over Twitter and quickly spread what about more, dare we say, important stories that required more than 140 characters?
In other words, where is the content going to come from? Will investigative reporting be put to sleep? So, is Twitter a tool to quickly disseminate "news bits," "news links," etc. ? Perhaps. But for major news stories, human interest pieces, analysis, etc. the mainstream press and top-rated blogs still have a place, at least for now.
Twitter is the "wire service" that can disseminate the info in a very rapid manner if follow a lot of people and a lot of people follow you and then take the time to retweet the past. Of course, it's likely that people will also find a way around rules and regulations and be able to manipulate tweets. Of course, this is no different than what some can do with organic search results.
Finally, not if but when will Twitter see competition from other services? Would a network of news sources including the most read blogs get together to form such a service? While many have a revenue stream (true, it's getting smaller), Twitter has not made much money (any?) to this point. Granted, the potential is rather large the way things look today. But things change.
Btw, in the past few weeks, advertising (pay-per-click advertising) has started at Twitter. Another company from Bill Gross (the inventor of pay-per-click advertising) named, TweetUp, has also started. More about Twitter advertising in general (via Wired) and a visit to the TweetUp.
And what about Facebook? Although Twitter gets a lot of attention, Facebook still has millions and millions more active users. Next time you're in the presence of someone under 25 years old ask them if they use Twitter. Sure, a few will but we would bet the majority will be Facebook users. What does this mean for Twitter over the long haul. Will they/can they get devoted Facebook users to switch? What will it take?
More After a Click
Finally, let's assume the article is right on target. Is the info profession most likely in cooperation with Twitter and companies who do similar types of things (some not even on the drawing board yet) must improve the methods to make searching, accessing, and most importantly finding the data easier, simpler and faster. Is the hashtag (#) something many don't use the best that's possible or will it be free-text searching 100% of the time? Perhaps Twitter's new metadata program (they call it "annotations") is a start but we still think we need more. The writer of the RWW article does point out that the lack of a controlled vocabulary, "could really be a problem."
Additionally, will info pros begin to do collection development (for lack of a better term) of the "best" more "authoritative streams? Finally, does this mean the news media as we know it today will eventually disappear? We ask since a large amount of Twitter traffic are links to "mainstream" news articles and or 140 word reactions to those stories.
Source: Technology Review, Read Write Web
Summary of Technology Review Article:
"Why Twitter Is the Future of News" (via ACM Tech News Daily)
Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) researchers recently performed a multi-part analysis of Twitter and concluded that it is a surprisingly interconnected network and an effective way to filter information. On the MSN messenger network, the median degree of separation is six. However, on Twitter, the average path length is 4.12. Because 94 percent of Twitter users are fewer than five degrees of separation from one another, it is likely that the distance between any random user and a celebrity is even shorter on Twitter than in real life. "No matter how many followers a user has, the tweet is likely to reach [an audience of a certain size] once the user's tweet starts spreading via retweets," write the KAIST researchers. Earlier Twitter studies suggested that the best way to get noticed was to tweet at certain times of day. "Half of retweeting occurs within an hour, and 75 percent under a day," according to the researchers. "What is interesting is from the second hop and on is that the retweets two hops or more away from the source are much more responsive and basically occur back to back up to five hops away."