Living Ends

This twitter post, from @KNX1070 four minutes ago, says Michael Jackson is dead. Google News‘ latest, from Fox, says he’s being rushed to the hospital. Here’s the latest Google search, as of 3:42pm Pacific:


A snapshot in time, already changed. (FWIW, the KNX item came up the first time I searched, but not this time. The System That Isn’t, isn’t perfect.) The Twitter results up top are courtesy of a Greasemonkey script.

It is here that we see manifest the split between the Live Web and the Static Web.

I’ve been writing and talking about this split since my son Allen first mentioned the term in 2003.* He saw the World Live Web then as an absence, as unstarted business. Google searched the Static Web of sites and domains that were architected, designed and built like real estate projects. The Live Web would be more alive and human. In it machines wouldn’t answer your questions now. People would.

Now the Live Web is here, big-time. Or, as current parlance would have it, real-time.

I still prefer “live”. Can you imagine if NBC had called its top weekend show “Saturday Night Real-Time”? Or if they announced, “Real time, from New York..”?

Live is better.

If Michael Jackson were still with us, I’m sure he’d agree.

* Here’s the same link:… . I’m not sure why, but WordPress isn’t letting me get that link in there. I post the html, find no links in the results, and then when editing find the linked term flanked by partial the letter “a” in angle brackets, sans the slash that closes a link. Not sure what’s up with that. Maybe my tortuously broken connection. Anyway, I have more to add, but won’t bother. Plenty of other reading on the Web anyway. Rock on.

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  1. Sheila Lennon’s avatar

    Doc, I just left the newsroom, and the problem was confirmation. said he was dead, but the family was arriving at his bedside and no one at the hospital would confirm his condition, any condition.

    Some news orgs went with, “Report: Michael Jackson dies,” quoting TMZ’s unknown source, but most of us just made pages/modules/blog posts and waited for the green light to upload them.

    Nobody wants to have to retract a death announcement, and what difference does it make if you wait to make sure it’s really true. (In the old days, “UPI gets it first, AP gets it right” was a truism.)

    Finally, AP got somebody knowledgeable but unauthorized — (the source is known but not named) — to confirm, and we all uploaded.

  2. Sheila Lennon’s avatar

    Afterthought: One source is not enough.

    Maybe TMZ has people all over Hollywood who know to call them. But hoaxsters or exaggeraters could call, too. I watched Twitter atwitter,but all over TMZ, if it was linked at all.

    Finally, AP seems to have gotten a hospital or family insider to confirm. The AP editors know the name of that source and called it credible, even if they agreed not to name the source, lest he/she be fired for telling the rest of us what was really happening.

  3. Seth Johnson’s avatar

    “But, we also know that if anything ever happens to Michael, we won’t have to imagine him still alive, because his accomplishments are enough to lift him to the heights of African deity.”

    Terry Howcott on Doing Right By Michael Jackson:

  4. Brad Templeton’s avatar

    Right. Once I knew that he was in an uncertain state, with various news agencies saying unknown, coma or in the case of TMZ, dead, what could twitter really tell me? Twitter (had I been able to get it to load) would have just told me the tweets of people who were getting reports from elsewhere. Unlike iran, it is unlikley that real in-the-know people would be twittering. And if medical staff were twittering, that’s a violation of their ethics anyway.

    In a way, I would say that an event like this is exactly what the old media (the real-time ones like tv, radio and newspaper web sites) are going to do best. Paid people on the ground not just hearing stories but confirming them, saying how they know in addition to what they know. Twitter is better at a think like Iran, or a lesser story which the big media would not spend the resources on.

  5. gammydodger’s avatar

    Twitter reported both the Michael Jackson death and the Jeff Goldblum death today. The news may be real time, but the authentication has a lag. How do we validate news on Twitter in real time?

  6. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Thanks, Sheila. Good to be reminded of how responsible journalism still works.

    Gam, see here about the Goldblum item. And I think we have a long way to go in the validation department. On the Live Web anyway.

  7. rjh’s avatar

    Everything has always been live, but mainstream press slow processes controlled the news enough that the severe problems with “live” are mitigated.

    The “live” news is extraordinarily inaccurate. It’s best called “current lies” rather than “current news”, although the intent is not usually malicious.

    The old paper press tries hard to reduce the errors and provide accurate news. They had enough success that people can usually trust them. This actually leads to a problem with some news. Take unemployment rate as an example. Nobody knows the current unemployment rate. In the middle of next month, there will be an official guess. This is published as “news” but usually without any caveats. At the end of the quarter there will be a better guess. At the end of the year, there will be a really good guess. And after a few years there will be no more changes to the guess.

    The “live web” and the web in general suffers from the absence of accuracy indications. Shills, advocates, fads, delusions, etc abound on the web.

  8. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Agreed, rjh. Now, what to do about it?

  9. Beep’s avatar

    TMZ has little to lose if they get it wrong. I don’t think most of their audience would leave them. TMZ has done some atrocious things and the following is still there. (although I stay away from the place personally.)

  10. Ben’s avatar

    I hadn’t heard that term before: “World Live Web.” That’s a really interesting phrase. We’re totally going more and more in that direction. It’s going to change the nature of search engines I bet. It’s crazy how fast the internet is evolving these days. I was amazed at how fast videos were being uploaded from Iran during the riots. The live web is definitely taking over.

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