Journalism and (use of) social media

May 14, 2010 at 11:32 pm | In danah_boyd, facebook, free_press, guerilla_politics, media, newspapers, northernvoice, web | 1 Comment

During the How (Should) Journalists Use Social Media? session at last weekend’s Northern Voice 2010 blogging conference, panelists Lisa Johnson and Kirk Lapointe both noted that newspapers regularly mine social media, especially Facebook, for information, leads, and photographs. Sometimes the journalists use the site to obtain information on criminal activity – if I recall correctly, Lisa Johnson explained how Hell’s Angels member Leonard Pelletier’s involvement in a Vancouver-area shooting was (partially?) outed via Facebook. And sometimes the media uses Facebook to obtain photos of teens who have died.

I sensed that some people in the audience were perturbed to learn this, even though it’s increasingly clear that material published online can be discoverable in one way or another. And if it’s on Facebook, it’s even more likely to be found – hence the growing popularity of the google search, “How Do I Delete My Facebook Account?”

Lisa Johnson and Kirk Lapointe – photo by Kemp Edmonds

Based on what I heard from Lapointe and Johnson at Northern Voice, the discussion of journalism’s use of social media now splits, for me, into two directions.

One path, broached by Kirk Lapointe after he was challenged by an online new media journalist, Linda Solomon of the Vancouver Observer, leads to the question of how the mainstream media uses leads and information – stories – that it harvests from social media sources, and whether or not it shares those sources with its readers.

Most of the time, mainstream media doesn’t share its sources with readers, as my post from yesterday (about Bruce Schneier’s article for CNN.com) illustrates clearly. Lapointe tried to cow Solomon, who challenged him (in his capacity as managing editor of the Vancouver Sun), by arguing with her, claiming that bloggers and online media also “steal” the newspapers’ stories. True, Solomon replied, but, she added, we give credit – aka “link love.” Bloggers and digitally native media freely give links back to the various sources, which is something the mainstream media still has to learn to do. We don’t need to “own” the story – but mainstream media apparently still does. This is particularly odd thinking, in my opinion, since – as Kirk Lapointe said himself at the very session – in the new landscape opening up for journalism, “the topic, not the article, is the centerpiece.” How, I would ask him, can a news outlet, “own” a topic?

The other path that’s red hot right now, which Johnson and Lapointe also opened up, is the question around privacy and social media. For an impassioned analysis of that issue, read Danah Boyd’s blog post, Facebook and “radical transparency” (a rant), which she published today.

Boyd says it better than most: questions around transparency and privacy are also class issues, which must be analyzed in terms of privilege and/or disadvantage. Mainstream media can certainly use social media as a “news scanner” (or maybe police scanner), as Lisa Johnson put it (see Raul Pacheco-Vega’s live-blog of the session). But the media must also realize its use (and possibly abuse) of power here. Given Boyd’s excellent deconstruction of the power relationships exerted by closed platforms like Facebook vis-a-vis the users, there should be a conversation – and maybe policies – around the morality of mainstream media mining social media sites for information. Of course they (we, anyone) are going to mine these sources, but we don’t do so innocently.

(note: photo by Kemp Edmonds, on his Flickr stream here.)

Housekeeping day: stab at Northern Voice report

May 10, 2010 at 11:57 pm | In northernvoice | 7 Comments

It’s Monday and closing on midnight and I still haven’t managed to write a recap of Northern Voice 2010, or address specific issues (of interest to me) raised by panelists. And since it’s already so late, this means it’s not going to happen today.

Here’s a screen shot of some of my tweets from the conference (marked #nv10), which I was going to use to write about the journalism session on Day Two:

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(Note the comment – added in green – about my being unsure whether Kirk Lapointe said “100 years” or “40 years.” I think he may have said 40, which seems more likely. Once the video of the session is up, I can confirm that. Unfortunately, I can’t correct my tweet, however.)

Further below that are my tweets for Chris Messina’s keynote, which was fantastic. It deserves its own post.

The conference was great – it was my third year, and while last year was my favorite so far, this one was very good also, in particular the second day. Day One started off really well with the Gov 2.0 session (which I blogged about very briefly, here – and which deserves an extended riff).

Also on Day One I attended OMGWTF: The Weird World of Chatroulette (NSFW), with Dean Hudson, who was brilliant. He had us ROFLMA – you can see me cracking up in this photo. This talk definitely also deserves its own post.

From Tweets to Plans: Online Conversation for Urban Planning disappointed me – I think that had a lot to do with putting 4 panelists into a 30 minute segment. Dear NV: please don’t do that again, it doesn’t work. It did give me a chance to connect with Mike Klassen and Ian Capstick, though, which led to an interesting conversation about NIMBYism and city planning.

The Seattle People Podcast Project: A Case Study and Discussion of DIY Social Networking with BuddyPress kind of had me scratching my head – I’m not sure that such a fine-grained social media approach appeals to me.

On Day Two, there was the aforementioned kick-ass keynote by Chris Messina, followed by the Journalism session (see panelist Lisa Johnson’s post – excellent source material). I then attended Alexandra Samuel‘s Coping with Social Media, which was fun and useful. It was followed directly by A Bridge Too Far? The Uses and Misuses of Social Location Sharing Sites (with Travis Smith, Noah Bloom, and Ian Bell).

Next up: Art and Social Media, with Rebecca Coleman, Rachel Chator, Deb Pickman and Sara Genn, which was wonderful.

Finally, I went to If Machiavelli and Montaigne Grew Mushrooms, with Dave Cormier (who was fantastic) and Jon Beasley-Murray (whom I didn’t care for at all).

Until I get my stuff together to write the posts I should or want to write, check out Hummingbird604′s live-blogs (here’s the Journalism one with Kirk Lapointe and Lisa Johnson), and read Kim P. Werker’s excellent post, Northern Voice 2010: The Great, the Meh and the Ugly.

Finally, for the artists-and-(potential)-iPad-enthusiasts who are wondering whether this gadget is useful in the graphic field, check out Rachel S. Smith‘s post, visual notes on the iPad (and see this flickr set, iPad art). Wowzers! Also spotted – and results ooh’d and aahhh’d over: Rob Cottingham, who produced Northern Voice blog posts in graphic format using his iPad. Awesome, both of you!

Gov2.0 and Northern Voice

May 7, 2010 at 8:55 pm | In conference, northernvoice, politics | 4 Comments

Great session this morning at Northern Voice, Gov 2.0 – Politics, Policy and Social Media in Canada: A Multi-Level Exploration, featuring David Eaves as moderator, with Raul Pacheco-Vega, Ian Capstick, Tanya Twynstra, and the most excellent Andrea Reimer.

More later, but for now, a couple of images from Andrea Reimer’s presentation. (Did I mention that it was great?)

Left to right: Raul Pacheco-Vega, Ian Capstick, Andrea Reimer, David Eaves, Tanya Twynstra

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Andrea Reimer with one of her first slides. (The chicken in the foreground has a backstory: see Office Chicken for details…) Key thing: citizen blogger, citizen councilor, citizen GIS guru: CITIZEN.

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Great image:

“Open and Accessible Data : the City of Vancouver will freely share with citizens, businesses and other jurisdictions the greatest amount of data possible while respecting privacy and security concerns”

Reimer’s 2nd point: “Open Standards : the City of Vancouver will move as quickly as possible to adopt prevailing open standards for data, documents, maps, and other formats of media”…

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Finally, Reimer’s last slide: “speak to councillors and the public . . . not to each other” : an exhortation to get out of the echo chamber? This is actually one of the hardest pieces to actualize…

Local emphasis

February 23, 2009 at 11:28 pm | In ideas, innovation, local_not_global, northernvoice | 2 Comments

At Northern Voice 2009 (which I still have to assimilate/ digest), I attended a session on hyper-local blogging and also heard people (myself included) lauding the value of “local.” On the ferry ride home, I had a chance to look through The Wall Street Journal. Peggy Noonan’s column, Remembering the Dawn of the Age of Abundance, was strangely wistful, but she ended on a note that really resonated with what we’re trying to do with MetroCascade:

I end with a hunch that is not an unhappy one. Dynamism has been leached from our system for now, but not from the human brain or heart. Just as our political regeneration will happen locally, in counties and states that learn how to control themselves and demonstrate how to govern effectively in a time of limits, so will our economic regeneration. That will begin in someone’s garage, somebody’s kitchen, as it did in the case of Messrs. Jobs and Wozniak. The comeback will be from the ground up and will start with innovation. No one trusts big anymore. In the future everything will be local. That’s where the magic will be. And no amount of pessimism will stop it once it starts.

You can see that her thoughts veer into several directions in this last paragraph, from garage- or kitchen-based innovation that churns through the world (globally – and big), to an affirmation of the not-so-big local focus. I got the impression that small and local isn’t yet her preferred comfort zone…?

But I think she’s really affirming that the heavy lifting is going to originate locally – and from the ground up, not from the top down.

Which also means it will have to be real, testable, confirmable, measurable, visible, and concrete – vs fantastic, uncontested (except by bullshitters), improbable, amorphous, mirrored, and abstract.

I can live with that.

Northern Voice 09 in Vancouver

February 20, 2009 at 9:36 pm | In northernvoice, vancouver | Comments Off

Really hate to do this, but here’s a plain-and-simple place-holder blog post: hey folks, I’m at Northern Voice 09 in Vancouver, and having a great time. Inundated with people and information, too, which is why I’m not blogging.

But – overall – having a great time.

Vancouver is marvelous – obviously a beneficiary of population growth. When I lived here in the eighties, there weren’t nearly as many people moving through here, keeping the place lubricated.

Having experienced Vancouver in the eighties makes me realize that the “build it and they will come” approach has to be a two-way street. You can’t build it if no one isn’t already there, but if you want people to be there, you have to build it, too.

Once you hit the right ratio, it’s like a perpetuum mobile.

Or a plant. Feed it right, give it water and light, and it does alright.

Well, that was fun!

February 27, 2008 at 12:33 am | In DemoCampVictoria, democampvictoria01, northernvoice, nv08 | 9 Comments

Northern Voice 2008 was amazing.

First off, Matt Mullenweg‘s keynote was amazing. Just for a taste, take a look (er, I mean listen) at this site and look at these photos posted to Flickr or this reverse liveblogging transcript from Stewart Mader.

Some key points that stuck in my mind: Exhortation #1, remove the FRICTION (“we need invisible software”); that volume is going to blow all predictions; that there’s no shortage of information anymore – what we need now are effective filters. Matt also talked about what he called the bloggers’ “hierarchy of needs”: 1 – Expression — presentaton / theme: make your online presence your own; 2 – Public — that you’re sharing with people; viral growth and permissions are in conflict; 3 – Interaction — comments on blogs; 4 – Validation — check stats.

What’s the Achilles Heel of web 2.0? Spam. Anything that takes attention away is spam (relates to the attention economy). This relates to Exhortation #2, Respect people’s time.

Exhortation #3, Kill the megabrands. The Age of Portals is over. Matt referenced Danah Boyd’s one company, ten brands: lessons from retail for tech companies post regarding this point.

There was much more, but don’t miss this photo, which shows Matt’s slide illustrating the 4 freedoms of open source. (Very important!)

Also during the morning session, Marc Canter spoke about putting the social back into software. See these Flickr images and perhaps watch this December 2007 video for an idea of what he presented at Northern Voice on Saturday. He’s a fantastic presenter – engaging, educational, entertaining.

Marc had a most fascinating re-imagining of capitalism, which I wish I’d noted more carefully. I thought at the time that I understood it — if not perfectly, at least implicitly. But now I notice that I can’t quite completely re-articulate what he said. It had, of course, something to do with making the relationship between users and providers more equitable, and with turning those laneways that too often today are one-ways into two-ways, which in turn could subvert the usual scenario of having the capitalists in the center of the picture (collecting the tolls?), and instead put the user-creator in the center, …with capitalists arrayed like happy campers around the flame of you as proceeds are shared out differently — and, one hopes, more equitably? With ideas flying fast and furiously from all angles and some tech/geek lingo thrown in just for fun, however, it’s not as easy to recapture the arguments once the presentation is over.

Marc strikes you as the kind of guy who can play hardball, but at the end of the day I screwed up my courage and introduced myself. I said that I’m one of those Berkman Center bloggers, the blogging enterprise that Dave Winer helped set up at Harvard. So he wanted to know if Dave and I were friends, and I said that I hadn’t ever actually met Dave, but that we were Facebook friends – another one of those weird virtual things. I also had to explain that I don’t live in the Boston area anymore — it’s difficult to explain to people at that sharp edge of the social software wedge that you live in a place like Victoria.

I had a similar P2C2E sensation when, just after registering on Saturday morning, I finally got to meet Roland Tanglao. By way of conversation, he innocently asked something like, So, are you planning on staying in Victoria? I’m getting defensive — I mean, Roland is such a sweet guy! I don’t think he knows the meaning of mean, and the question was just a …well, an off-the-cuff question. But of course for me it’s the question.

Am I going to stay in Victoria?

I guess it depends on what you mean by “stay.” Physically? Probably. I’m not into hopping about (although I don’t mind the occasional jumping-up-and-down event). Intellectually? I’d prefer not to.

But back to the conference and all the great people there.

During a coffee break, Isabelle Mori asked me to sign her digital guestbook, which was something I’ve never done anywhere else before. Thanks, Isabelle!

Mark Lise from Victoria’s Flock office (which Boris Mann and Marc Canter tested at NV08, with Boris giving it a big thumbs up here!) and I exchanged some quick emails during the morning session, in an effort to locate one another. We hadn’t met before, but Mark had left a comment on my blog entry about Rick on Rails, and we sort of agreed to find each other at Northern Voice. As I was eating my lunch, he sent another email that included a link to a just-posted Flickr photo showing him at the conference. So then I knew what he looked like, and was able to find him in the lounge area! Cool, eh?

I had lunch at a table with Mike Tan, who’s one of the founders of Victoria-based TeamPages (company blog here). Mike was there with Naomi Buell, who currently works at TeamPages through UVic’s co-op program. Naomi is a student in UVic’s Commerce Department, which she gave a big thumbs up — good to hear, as my son is very interested in that program.

Also at the table, and busily uploading photos to Flickr, was Carol Browne. We didn’t get a chance to talk, since Mike, Naomi, and I were hashing out the intricacies of the Victoria scene — but check out her blog and her Flickr photos (the NV08 set here).

I got to say a few (good) words about LibraryThing at the conference at the end of one session called “From book to blog or blog to book,” moderated by Monique Trottier. That was a fun panel which included the authors kc dyer, Crawford Killian, Meg Tilly, Pete McCormack, and Robert Wiersema.

Meg Tilly is a firecracker — very funny woman with a most subversive and mischievous sense of humor. At the end of the session, a fellow named Brendon Wilson asked me if I work for LibraryThing, as I had my LT logo-emblazoned messenger bag over my shoulder.

“No,” I answered. “It’s just the only bag I have that’s big enough to hold my very heavy very unhip laptop!”

Well, I obviously didn’t mind being associated with LT, otherwise (a) I wouldn’t have bought the bag in the first place (via Cafe Press, incidentally) and (b) had I minded, I could have duct-taped over the logo, right?

So of course I sang its praises, and it turns out that Brendon is at work on a bar code reader with a twist. Unlike the CueCat type reader, which has to be plugged in to the computer and then passed over the bar code, Brendon’s model would be downloadable directly to one’s laptop, whereupon the omnipresent built-in camera would read the bar code when you hold the book up to the screen. It’s a pretty cool application.

I didn’t get to meet Boris Mann or Kris Krug or any of the other Northern Voice organizers aside from Roland Tanglao, but that was basically my fault for not going to MooseCamp, which took place on Friday, or the introductory party, which happened on Thursday night.

Next year I plan to remedy that. I have nothing but good things to say about the entire day — the vibe, the energy, the people, the whole package was really positive, upbeat, professional, heterogeneous (so many different voices!), sometimes hilarious, informative, goofy, and wise. All in all, a very quirky kind of thing that made me feel quite young but also strangely purposeful.

It’s like genres or niches or germinating things all being given their due in …oh, dare I say it? …in what struck me as a generally very non-judgemental (and therefore signature Canadian) sort of way. The conference was also peopled by many other persons of my sex: it didn’t achieve gender parity, but there were significantly more women there as audience, organizers, and presenters than you’d find at many an other tech conference. That said, you gotta read Gillian Gunson’s blog post, The lame at Northern Voice, where she – a geek and conference organizer – skewers (rightly so) an unnamed boor who chatted her up (or should that be “down”?) with typical male condescension. Let’s hope his ears are burning.

Overall, though, this conference is “two thumbs up” all the way.

Edit: I’ve added the tags DemoCampVictoria and democampvictoria01 to this entry as it relates directly to DemoCamp Victoria01′s genesis.

Northern Voice 2008 — what a blast!

February 24, 2008 at 10:26 pm | In conference, northernvoice, nv08, social_networking, vancouver | Comments Off

This afternoon I returned home from Northern Voice 2008, the 4th annual incarnation of this event. It was the first time I attended, and I had a great time. Learned a lot, met some terrific people, and experienced a really positive geek vibe — if that makes sense. I’ll post more later — probably tomorrow? — but right now I’m too exhausted. As soon as we (spouse & I) got off the ferry, we phoned the kids at home, ascertained that most of the food was gone, stopped at the supermarket on the way home to ransom a cow’s worth of milk and the millions of pounds of additional food required by growing teenagers, continued on our way, fixed lunch, walked the dog, made dinner, and now it’s time to clean up the kitchen and then collapse into bed. This is what we domestic professionals call being “back in harness.” Ha.ha. The drill continues tomorrow, and so on until …well, just watch birds trying to fledge their young. It gives a whole new meaning to going ragged at the edges.

Except I don’t see the birds in actual harness, but then I guess mine is invisible, too.

I did do a stupid thing after getting home — I spent over two hours going through over 60 pages of photos posted to Flickr that were tagged with nv08 and northernvoice. My god, people get busy with their cameras! My eyeballs hurt.

More later, on the actual conference and the great people. But now it’s off to the scullery…

Victoria: turning into everywhere else? It’s creativity unleashed

February 16, 2008 at 1:19 pm | In creativity, DemoCampVictoria, democampvictoria01, local_not_global, northernvoice, scenes_victoria, victoria | 8 Comments

Perhaps Victoria is “turning into everywhere else,” and that’s a good thing? It is when it means that modern creativity is unleashed, on the streets, and in our coffee houses.

This morning I was cataloging my books on LibraryThing while my husband went out for breakfast to meet Rod O. from Magic Kite at the Cook Street Village Starbucks, which is just one of 4 coffee shops (soon to be 5) in this 2-block area.

As they’re drinking their lattes, they’re surrounded by scads of folks from the neighbourhood, who have come in to check out the people or read books or have business meetings or work wirelessly on their laptops. The crowd includes a man working on a Ruby on Rails application, using the Flock browser. Since the husband and Rod had just been talking about building a little business app on Rails, they chat with the other chap for a while. When the spouse returns home (where I’m still busily cataloging away, trying not to sneeze from all the dust), he tells me about the Flockstar fellow on Rails.

Hmm, I think, Can’t be, can it? The world’s not that small?

Was he quite distinctly hairless as regards the scalp?, I ask. Yes, came the answer. Was his name Rick?, I inquired. Yes, again.

Coincidence? Or an element of localized spikiness? I’ve never met Rick, but it so happened that I used a photo of “Rick on Rails” pulled from Flickr (and uploaded by quaelin on Jan.22/07) next to a photo of a Roland Brener work, “Sculpture” (also posted to Flickr, by striatic), for two talks I presented to local Victoria business / community groups this winter.

The slide I made, which juxtaposed “Sculpture” (above) and “Rick on Rails” (below) includes this bit of text:

The Creative City

“…creativity is revolutionizing the global economy…”

- Richard Florida

The juxtaposition was part of my larger point — that creativity needs to be unleashed: it can’t be restricted to areas of fine art, it also has to permeate technology and entrepreneurship. Brener’s Sculpture represented a multi-faceted aspect of “traditional” creativity (and is located where one conventionally expects to find it – in a gallery setting). Rick represents the creativity of technology and entrepreneurship, which you can casually stumble upon at your neighbourhood coffee shop.

(With thanks to “Rick on Rails” for having his picture on Flickr and being a “shining beacon” of technological creativity in Victoria! I hope he doesn’t mind that I’ve reposted this likeness here to make a point!)

And so, let’s hope that Victoria gets spikier and more creative all the time — unleashing creativity is the best way to ensure that it will be “like everywhere else” (that is, one of those places that’s buzzing with goodness & spikiness), while also developing a distinctive, spiky edge of its own. “Becoming like everywhere else” sometimes just means that a place changes for the better and finds its creative groove.

Edit: I’ve added the tags DemoCampVictoria, democampvictoria01, and northernvoice to this entry as it relates directly to DemoCamp Victoria01′s genesis.

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