The Mundane Breaking News Cycle

Phil Barrett has an interesting post about the usefulness of Twitter and other microblogging sites:

Having said that, some people have said that Twitter has become a hot newswire – industry insight and news is sometimes available through a Twitter feed before it hits the blogs or news pages. I guess that’s important for some industry people…but does anybody else really care if they hear about industry news 3 hours before they read it in their RSS newsreader? One sign that Twitter has become a hit is the fact there are lots of imitations now available globally – like Pownce, Jaiku and Dodgeball.  Wikipedia reports that there are over 100 knock-offs of Twitter now. It seems like instant messaging 2.0 has arrived.

First, I would not call Jaiku a Twitter imitation as both appeared around the same time. Dodgeball was up before Twitter and is in a related but different space – Twitter does not have location-based services (which Jaiku does on their mobile application). And (I hope) Barak Obama does not update his Twitter account – a staffer on his campaign is in charge. Spending a year running tech ops for Ehud Barak’s first (successful) campaign for Prime Minister of Israel, I can’t see a Presidential candidate being allowed to post tweets  – it is too much of a PR liability, and I’d be surprised if he had the time.

In my first year of film school, pretty much every student made a film where the character wakes up, goes to the bathroom, gets dressed, eats breakfast, and so on. The professors all said the same thing – who care? Life is boring, show me something I don’t already know. This can be new information, a different perspective, ideas, or just random creativity. This is why they give an Oscar for editing. I fault Twitter for their tag line (“What are you doing now?”) not their platform or potential.

The content has to fit the format. Microblogging fits with real-time content, headlines in nature. Blogs are more for detailed reporting, essays, or even short messages that are not time sensitive. Video blogs are good for adding a visual element which is why I find most video interviews useless – an hour long interview is a 5 minutes read and posting it shows a lack of respect to your audience. Quality content cannot take the same amount of time creating as it takes consuming. And there should always be more people consuming content than those producing it. Current microblogs fail on both counts.

At the same time, what I find useful and interesting is my personal taste and preference. My issue with many Twitter streams is their mixture of content, mundane and original, usually at disproportionate ratio. This is why I am dumping friends faster than I add new ones. Everyone has something they care about enough to want to get news about it as it happens. For me it is world news (the kind that does not appear in US, People, and In Touch) and technology. For others it’s sports, entertainment, or gossip (the kind that DOES appear in US, People, and In Touch).

Microblogging will become a standard tool just like email, instant messaging and blogs as soon as some valuable content will catch people’s interest and imagination on a massive scale. It can be a catastrophe (imagine following people’s Twitter streams from the sites of the 9/11 attacks) or a happier occasion (like an intern sending live tweets from NASA during a ground breaking mission). But most likely it will be Paris Hilton or the next poster girl for rolling back women suffrage telling us how she feels in her prison cell while waiting for daddy’s lawyers to pick her up. Mass acceptance is a chicken and egg game of audience and content and it’s just a matter of time before the two meet.

2 thoughts on “The Mundane Breaking News Cycle

  1. I enjoyed reading your POV and additional insight into the value of microblogging
    I still believe that if you can connect microblogging with the sites where you already have social equity established, it will make it more relevant and easier to adapt on a larger scale.
    what do you think of Twitter 2.0? I’ve been recently frusrated with the constant errors and downtimes on Twitter…so i’m still going back and forth between using Twitter or Facebook for status updates

  2. I don’t think we have really seen Twitter 2.0 yet but I am sure they are working on some cool stuff. I think the 2.0 version will be when they figure out how to monetize it…
    Using microblogging to broadcast your other social assets is a good use case, and I agree that it can be useful to link multiple sites into your Twitter stream. But at some point you will have everything pointing at everything else, which is wasteful.

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