Categories
Public notebook

Online media: Finding balance between stock & flow

I’m grateful to Lloyd Shepherd for the point to a post by Robin Sloan called Stock & Flow. Recalling studying for his degree in economics, Robin recalls:

There are two kinds of quantities in the world. Stock is a sta­tic value: money in the bank, or trees in the for est. Flow is a rate of change: fifteen dollars an hour, or three-thousand tooth picks a day. Easy. Too easy.
But I actually think stock and flow is the master metaphor for media today. Here’s what I mean:

  • Flow is the feed. It’s the posts and the tweets. It’s the stream of daily and sub-daily updates that remind peo ple that you exist.
  • Stock is the durable stuff. It’s the content you produce that’s as interest­ing in two months (or two years) as it is today. It’s what people dis cover via search. It’s what spreads slowly but surely, building fans over time.

Over the past few years I’ve thought of hurly-burly of daily online interactions as being very different to the bigger content artefacts I’ve created. In the case of the e-books I wrote for iCrossing, at times they felt a bit like avatars, going off into the world doing their own thing under creative commons…

I’d meet a client and the e-book was already there engaging with various people. It was an eery feeling for someone who’d never been published much before anywhere, your thoughts-as-content travelling the world causing things to happen, people re-using them in all sorts of ways (translating into Chinese, incorporating in textbooks in India, using it as an appendix to a business plan, to name just three).

One challenge is trying to balance out investment of your energy and effort in flow/stock. Interesting especially if you are fitting these things around a day job.

Blog posts are a bit of both really aren’t they. Sometimes they simply let people know you’re still there – hello! – and other times (and you’re not always sure when) they become stock, a focus for a conversation, a defining statement about what you believe, a new turn of phrase that captures an important wisp of the the zeitgeist.

Generally, I walk an erratic personal media path, subject to wild swings into stock or flow. When I was writing my book on personal reputation online last year, I was all stock creation. It took me over to the point of madness. Other times, perhaps toward the end of last year I was living too much in the Twitter stream without much time for reflection, time for creativity to take shape.

As Robin puts it:

And the real magic trick in 2010 is to put them both together. To keep the ball bounc ing with your flow—to main tain that open chan nel of communication—while you work on some kick-ass stock in the back ground. Sac ri fice nei ther. It’s the hybrid strategy.

Balance. Equilibrium. Great idea, so hard to get it right…


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Public notebook

Telling stories

In the middle of explaining some social media stuff recently, I was pulled up short and given a useful dressing down.

“You’re using too many words,” they said, or something to that effect. “What you mean is that just like people had to learn how to use Powerpoint ten years ago, if they wanted to be able to get their point across, they have to learn about these tools.”

Um. Yeah. Exactly.

Nice simple way of explaining the imperative for people to learn, to become literate in this medium.

Social web literacy, just like any other literacy before it, is partly just about the technical skills. They are very, very important these technical skills, if you are to realise the amazing potential of the web to help you get things done.

But underpinning them all, more so than during the channel media age, during the industrial communications era, is the ability to tell stories well.

Social media, as I will never tire of saying, is a useful phrase because of, er, the social bit. The rules are social, human and innate. Often as not, we’ve unlearned our skills in story-telling have been undone by corporate organisational life in the previously modern world. In that world, the story was driven to ground, meaning flushed out by jargon, shibboleths and weird communications.

Lloyd Davies gave me a nudge about this this morning when I read the text of a talk he gave at the ICA (a story wrapped ina  story, now I think of it):

And it comes down to telling stories with purpose, telling stories to make sense and learn about yourself and the world. No doubt that’s also how I stumbled into being invited to speak to you tonight. Because I believe that telling stories (and engaging in conversation about them) at this human scale, where you can see the whites of my eyes is something that’s going to be very useful to us in the 21st Century as we grapple with unprecedented rates of social, economic and technological change. Talking at this scale is a skill that I think we all need to learn again and practice regularly.

Read his stories. They are lovely.

Reminds me also of the invigorating Brain Rules, especially Rule 4: We Don’t Pay Attention to Boring Things. Story telling with the social web helps us format information as human, relevant stories.

Categories
Public notebook

Telling stories

In the middle of explaining some social media stuff recently, I was pulled up short and given a useful dressing down.

“You’re using too many words,” they said, or something to that effect. “What you mean is that just like people had to learn how to use Powerpoint ten years ago, if they wanted to be able to get their point across, they have to learn about these tools.”

Um. Yeah. Exactly.

Nice simple way of explaining the imperative for people to learn, to become literate in this medium.

Social web literacy, just like any other literacy before it, is partly just about the technical skills. They are very, very important these technical skills, if you are to realise the amazing potential of the web to help you get things done.

But underpinning them all, more so than during the channel media age, during the industrial communications era, is the ability to tell stories well.

Social media, as I will never tire of saying, is a useful phrase because of, er, the social bit. The rules are social, human and innate. Often as not, we’ve unlearned our skills in story-telling have been undone by corporate organisational life in the previously modern world. In that world, the story was driven to ground, meaning flushed out by jargon, shibboleths and weird communications.

Lloyd Davies gave me a nudge about this this morning when I read the text of a talk he gave at the ICA (a story wrapped ina  story, now I think of it):

And it comes down to telling stories with purpose, telling stories to make sense and learn about yourself and the world. No doubt that’s also how I stumbled into being invited to speak to you tonight. Because I believe that telling stories (and engaging in conversation about them) at this human scale, where you can see the whites of my eyes is something that’s going to be very useful to us in the 21st Century as we grapple with unprecedented rates of social, economic and technological change. Talking at this scale is a skill that I think we all need to learn again and practice regularly.

Read his stories. They are lovely.

Reminds me also of the invigorating Brain Rules, especially Rule 4: We Don’t Pay Attention to Boring Things. Story telling with the social web helps us format information as human, relevant stories.

Categories
Public notebook

Telling stories

In the middle of explaining some social media stuff recently, I was pulled up short and given a useful dressing down.

“You’re using too many words,” they said, or something to that effect. “What you mean is that just like people had to learn how to use Powerpoint ten years ago, if they wanted to be able to get their point across, they have to learn about these tools.”

Um. Yeah. Exactly.

Nice simple way of explaining the imperative for people to learn, to become literate in this medium.

Social web literacy, just like any other literacy before it, is partly just about the technical skills. They are very, very important these technical skills, if you are to realise the amazing potential of the web to help you get things done.

But underpinning them all, more so than during the channel media age, during the industrial communications era, is the ability to tell stories well.

Social media, as I will never tire of saying, is a useful phrase because of, er, the social bit. The rules are social, human and innate. Often as not, we’ve unlearned our skills in story-telling have been undone by corporate organisational life in the previously modern world. In that world, the story was driven to ground, meaning flushed out by jargon, shibboleths and weird communications.

Lloyd Davies gave me a nudge about this this morning when I read the text of a talk he gave at the ICA (a story wrapped ina  story, now I think of it):

And it comes down to telling stories with purpose, telling stories to make sense and learn about yourself and the world. No doubt that’s also how I stumbled into being invited to speak to you tonight. Because I believe that telling stories (and engaging in conversation about them) at this human scale, where you can see the whites of my eyes is something that’s going to be very useful to us in the 21st Century as we grapple with unprecedented rates of social, economic and technological change. Talking at this scale is a skill that I think we all need to learn again and practice regularly.

Read his stories. They are lovely.

Reminds me also of the invigorating Brain Rules, especially Rule 4: We Don’t Pay Attention to Boring Things. Story telling with the social web helps us format information as human, relevant stories.

Categories
Public notebook

Here come the MetaSocNets?

Image: Er, All your media in one place (an excuse to include a pic of Babel, by Cildo Meireles)
Image: Er, All your media in one place (an excuse to include a pic of Babel, by Cildo Meireles)

Yep, you heard that right: 2009 could be a year of MetaSocNets. That is to say meta-social networks, services that give you access to all of your social networks in one place, a bit like the way that Adium will give you access to all of your IM accounts in one package.

And it could be a very good thing indeed. Although not if Facebook has anything to do with it, seeing as it has started the year with a law suit against Power.com.

Users of Power.com can stil access Hi5, Orkut, MySpace, YouTube, MSN and other social networks, but no longer Facebook.

It seems a bit mean, given that Facebook Connect is all about letting you access other web sites and serivces while remaining within the comfortable grip of your Facebook log-in…

That’s hard cheese for Power.com but as Alan Patrick at Broadstuff observes, this could well just be the beginning:

I await with interest the surfeit of MetaSocNets that will now predictably emerge in 2009, but without making Power.com’s main error of having an office in the US – fighting the lawsuit in their native Brazil would have been far more entertaining.

Now, I’m no Facebook hater. I like that Facebook is there giving so many people their first taste of the power of the social web, spreading the seeds of social media literacy, as it were.

The fact that so many of my friends and family use it have also prompted me to make an almost-resolution to use it more this year. Social media snobbery aside, it’s the best thing online for doing that because that’s where those people are.

But open, as we know, beats closed

Good luck, then, to the rising tide of MetaSocNets, the FriendFeeds, the aggregators and the filters… we need things to make things simpler and to provide easy exits (and entries) into platforms like Facebook. The more bits of the social web work as walled gardens, the more potential good things with wither and fade away.

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Public notebook

People’s News: social media and newsgathering in 2008

From Mumbai to Steve Jobs - 2008's news
From Mumbai to Steve Jobs - social media played a role in the way news was reported in 2008

The staff of NowPublic, the “particpatory news network” as it describes itself, has picked a list of the top 10 stories from 2008 in which social media played a role.

2008’s Top 10 Moments in User-Generated News

1.    Mumbai attacks
2.    Natural disasters: Emergency info
3.    SF Olympic torch relay protests
4.    Obama and “Bittergate”
5.    Protests at Republican Convention
6.    Ushahidi: Crowdsourcing crisis info
7.    CNN’s news wire plans
8.    Mob rule: Mark Zuckerberg at SXSW
9.    Twitter gets student out of Egypt jail
10.  Fake report on Steve Jobs heart attack

As NowPublic’s Rachel Nixon puts it on their blog:

The relationship between producers and consumers of news is changing. What used to be known as “the story” is evolving into something different: fragments of information that don’t come pre-assembled or filtered. With such a rich array of information from so many different sources, it can be confusing without the mechanisms to make sense of it all. We’re in it together to make sense of the story.

Alfred Hermida at Reportr.net says of the list:

Top […] are the Mumbai attacks, a tragic event that demonstrated the value of raw and unfiltered information. It ends with the false report on Steve Jobs heart attack, a salutary tale of the perils of not checking this raw information.

Journalists and the public alike are learning fast about how to get information in raw and filtered forms. Looking forward to seeing how the relationships and processes around gathering and making sense of news evolve in 2009.

Categories
Public notebook

Spread social media literacy (and save the world)

Image: Howard Rheingold says "Spread the (social media) love"
Image: Howard Rheingold says spread the (social media) love

Here’s a New Year’s Resolution for you that might do some real good: teach someone at work or in your family how to use social media tools.

Actually New Year’s Resolution is too weak a way to frame this. It’s a call to arms. A plea to your humanity.

Feeling revolutionary itch but not sure how to start scratching with a mortgage/student debts/rent to pay? This is how.

Why? Because our future’s at stake…

Howard Rheingold‘s written an essay with the catchily academic title “Partcipative Pedagogy for a Literacy of Literacies“:

The alphabet did not cause the Roman Empire, but made it possible. Printing did not cause democracy or science, but literate populations, enabled by the printing press, devised systems for citizen governance and collective knowledge creation. The Internet did not cause open source production, Wikipedia or emergent collective responses to natural disasters, but it made it possible for people to act together in new ways, with people they weren’t able to organize action with before, in places and at paces for which collective action had never been possible. Literacies are the prerequisite for the human agency that used alphabets, presses and digital networks to create wealth, alleviate suffering and invent new institutions.

Helping others to understand how to use a wiki or create a Facebook group and you are spreading a new kind of literacy.

A literacy in participative media, or for the sake of not clouding the terminology in this blog, a social media literacy.

A widespread ability to use social computing tools will be the basis for a New Enlightenment of sorts:

The more people who know how to use participatory media to learn, inform, persuade, investigate, reveal, advocate and organize, the more likely the future infosphere will allow, enable and encourage liberty and participation. Such literacy can only make action possible, however, it is not in the technology, or even in the knowledge of how to use it, but in the ways people use knowledge and technology to create wealth, secure freedom, resist tyranny.

Image: Facebook groups - one small step...
Image: Facebook groups - one small step...

It reminds me how some friends of mine used Facebook – about which a year or two back they were very sceptical, to organise a protest. It worked, insofar as it gained momentum, grew, sustained itself and attracted attention.

The lessons from that are with them always. And next time, if their neighbourhood is threatened by some planning travesty, or their lives are affected by bureacratic stupidity they have a network and knowledge of networks and social media tools that they will be even quicker to pick up and more adept at using when they do so…

Responding to Howard Rheingold’s essay, Prof Mike Wesch says: “I employ social media in the classroom with a sense of urgency”.

It’s not just that we have so much to gain by as many people as possible being literate in this new medium, but that we have much to lose by there not being mass social media literacy.

Wesch says:

We use social media in the classroom not because our students use it, but because we are afraid that social media might be using them – that they are using social media blindly, without recognition of the new challenges and opportunities they might create.

So here’s some simple ideas that I might try out to spread social media literacy…

  • Help someone set up an RSS reader to get all their news and blogs…
  • Record a brilliant presentation or speech and distribute it on SlideShare, a blog, a podcast, a video..
  • Show them how to organise that event or holiday on a wiki…
  • Help someone looking for a job or freelancing to make more of LinkedIn and a couple of other tools (BTW this article, written about journalism, can teach any freelancer or contractor a thing or two)
  • Volunteer to help a sports or cultural club to get some of their stuff online in a better way…
  • Show someone who has set up a cause on Facebook to set up their own blog / website and use other tools to further their activism…

With the iCrossing team I published What is Social Media? a while back – maybe I should start a project to add to that with more “how to” examples…

It’s not just that one project that you’ll be supporting, you’ll be spreading a new kind of web literacy that really will change the world.

What else can we do? Run some evening classes? Offer online coaching…

Via John Naughton.

: : Bonus social media literacy links… One of the nicest and most practical resources for getting up to speed on social media tools and other web-related stuff is the set videos from the Commoncraft Show. One of my favourites is the wiki video, which does a perfect job of simplifying and explaining a powerful online tool:

Categories
Public notebook

Spread social media literacy (and save the world)

Image: Howard Rheingold says "Spread the (social media) love"
Image: Howard Rheingold says spread the (social media) love

Here’s a New Year’s Resolution for you that might do some real good: teach someone at work or in your family how to use social media tools.

Actually New Year’s Resolution is too weak a way to frame this. It’s a call to arms. A plea to your humanity.

Feeling revolutionary itch but not sure how to start scratching with a mortgage/student debts/rent to pay? This is how.

Why? Because our future’s at stake…

Howard Rheingold‘s written an essay with the catchily academic title “Partcipative Pedagogy for a Literacy of Literacies“:

The alphabet did not cause the Roman Empire, but made it possible. Printing did not cause democracy or science, but literate populations, enabled by the printing press, devised systems for citizen governance and collective knowledge creation. The Internet did not cause open source production, Wikipedia or emergent collective responses to natural disasters, but it made it possible for people to act together in new ways, with people they weren’t able to organize action with before, in places and at paces for which collective action had never been possible. Literacies are the prerequisite for the human agency that used alphabets, presses and digital networks to create wealth, alleviate suffering and invent new institutions.

Helping others to understand how to use a wiki or create a Facebook group and you are spreading a new kind of literacy.

A literacy in participative media, or for the sake of not clouding the terminology in this blog, a social media literacy.

A widespread ability to use social computing tools will be the basis for a New Enlightenment of sorts:

The more people who know how to use participatory media to learn, inform, persuade, investigate, reveal, advocate and organize, the more likely the future infosphere will allow, enable and encourage liberty and participation. Such literacy can only make action possible, however, it is not in the technology, or even in the knowledge of how to use it, but in the ways people use knowledge and technology to create wealth, secure freedom, resist tyranny.

Image: Facebook groups - one small step...
Image: Facebook groups - one small step...

It reminds me how some friends of mine used Facebook – about which a year or two back they were very sceptical, to organise a protest. It worked, insofar as it gained momentum, grew, sustained itself and attracted attention.

The lessons from that are with them always. And next time, if their neighbourhood is threatened by some planning travesty, or their lives are affected by bureacratic stupidity they have a network and knowledge of networks and social media tools that they will be even quicker to pick up and more adept at using when they do so…

Responding to Howard Rheingold’s essay, Prof Mike Wesch says: “I employ social media in the classroom with a sense of urgency”.

It’s not just that we have so much to gain by as many people as possible being literate in this new medium, but that we have much to lose by there not being mass social media literacy.

Wesch says:

We use social media in the classroom not because our students use it, but because we are afraid that social media might be using them – that they are using social media blindly, without recognition of the new challenges and opportunities they might create.

So here’s some simple ideas that I might try out to spread social media literacy…

  • Help someone set up an RSS reader to get all their news and blogs…
  • Record a brilliant presentation or speech and distribute it on SlideShare, a blog, a podcast, a video..
  • Show them how to organise that event or holiday on a wiki…
  • Help someone looking for a job or freelancing to make more of LinkedIn and a couple of other tools (BTW this article, written about journalism, can teach any freelancer or contractor a thing or two)
  • Volunteer to help a sports or cultural club to get some of their stuff online in a better way…
  • Show someone who has set up a cause on Facebook to set up their own blog / website and use other tools to further their activism…

With the iCrossing team I published What is Social Media? a while back – maybe I should start a project to add to that with more “how to” examples…

It’s not just that one project that you’ll be supporting, you’ll be spreading a new kind of web literacy that really will change the world.

What else can we do? Run some evening classes? Offer online coaching…

Via John Naughton.

: : Bonus social media literacy links… One of the nicest and most practical resources for getting up to speed on social media tools and other web-related stuff is the set videos from the Commoncraft Show. One of my favourites is the wiki video, which does a perfect job of simplifying and explaining a powerful online tool:

Categories
Public notebook

Spread social media literacy (and save the world)

Image: Howard Rheingold says "Spread the (social media) love"
Image: Howard Rheingold says spread the (social media) love

Here’s a New Year’s Resolution for you that might do some real good: teach someone at work or in your family how to use social media tools.

Actually New Year’s Resolution is too weak a way to frame this. It’s a call to arms. A plea to your humanity.

Feeling revolutionary itch but not sure how to start scratching with a mortgage/student debts/rent to pay? This is how.

Why? Because our future’s at stake…

Howard Rheingold‘s written an essay with the catchily academic title “Partcipative Pedagogy for a Literacy of Literacies“:

The alphabet did not cause the Roman Empire, but made it possible. Printing did not cause democracy or science, but literate populations, enabled by the printing press, devised systems for citizen governance and collective knowledge creation. The Internet did not cause open source production, Wikipedia or emergent collective responses to natural disasters, but it made it possible for people to act together in new ways, with people they weren’t able to organize action with before, in places and at paces for which collective action had never been possible. Literacies are the prerequisite for the human agency that used alphabets, presses and digital networks to create wealth, alleviate suffering and invent new institutions.

Helping others to understand how to use a wiki or create a Facebook group and you are spreading a new kind of literacy.

A literacy in participative media, or for the sake of not clouding the terminology in this blog, a social media literacy.

A widespread ability to use social computing tools will be the basis for a New Enlightenment of sorts:

The more people who know how to use participatory media to learn, inform, persuade, investigate, reveal, advocate and organize, the more likely the future infosphere will allow, enable and encourage liberty and participation. Such literacy can only make action possible, however, it is not in the technology, or even in the knowledge of how to use it, but in the ways people use knowledge and technology to create wealth, secure freedom, resist tyranny.

Image: Facebook groups - one small step...
Image: Facebook groups - one small step...

It reminds me how some friends of mine used Facebook – about which a year or two back they were very sceptical, to organise a protest. It worked, insofar as it gained momentum, grew, sustained itself and attracted attention.

The lessons from that are with them always. And next time, if their neighbourhood is threatened by some planning travesty, or their lives are affected by bureacratic stupidity they have a network and knowledge of networks and social media tools that they will be even quicker to pick up and more adept at using when they do so…

Responding to Howard Rheingold’s essay, Prof Mike Wesch says: “I employ social media in the classroom with a sense of urgency”.

It’s not just that we have so much to gain by as many people as possible being literate in this new medium, but that we have much to lose by there not being mass social media literacy.

Wesch says:

We use social media in the classroom not because our students use it, but because we are afraid that social media might be using them – that they are using social media blindly, without recognition of the new challenges and opportunities they might create.

So here’s some simple ideas that I might try out to spread social media literacy…

  • Help someone set up an RSS reader to get all their news and blogs…
  • Record a brilliant presentation or speech and distribute it on SlideShare, a blog, a podcast, a video..
  • Show them how to organise that event or holiday on a wiki…
  • Help someone looking for a job or freelancing to make more of LinkedIn and a couple of other tools (BTW this article, written about journalism, can teach any freelancer or contractor a thing or two)
  • Volunteer to help a sports or cultural club to get some of their stuff online in a better way…
  • Show someone who has set up a cause on Facebook to set up their own blog / website and use other tools to further their activism…

With the iCrossing team I published What is Social Media? a while back – maybe I should start a project to add to that with more “how to” examples…

It’s not just that one project that you’ll be supporting, you’ll be spreading a new kind of web literacy that really will change the world.

What else can we do? Run some evening classes? Offer online coaching…

Via John Naughton.

: : Bonus social media literacy links… One of the nicest and most practical resources for getting up to speed on social media tools and other web-related stuff is the set videos from the Commoncraft Show. One of my favourites is the wiki video, which does a perfect job of simplifying and explaining a powerful online tool:

Categories
Public notebook

Un-filtered news: Twitter, the BBC and Mumbai

Media Guardian carries a timely analysis of some of the discussion of Twitter informing, in some cases becoming part of, the coverage of the terrorist attrocities in Mumbai. 

It picks up on a blog post by Steve Herman, editor of the BBC News website: 

 

As for the Twitter messages we were monitoring, most did not add a great amount of detail to what we knew of events, but among other things they did give a strong sense of what people connected in some way with the story were thinking and seeing. “Appalled at the foolishness of the curious onlookers who are disrupting the NSG operations,” wrote one. “Our soldiers are brave but I feel we could have done better,” said another. There was assessment, reaction and comment there and in blogs. One blogger’s stream of photos on photosharing site Flickr was widely linked to, including by us.

All this helped to build up a rapidly evolving picture of a confusing situation. 

 

Where Twitter added to the understanding of what was happening for a reader of news, was the emotional immediacy. There were voices of people like me, on Twitter, shouting out loud about the horror happening around them. 

It brought Mumbai closer. That’s a good thing, because the whole world needs to feel closer to events like these, the more likely for people to act in small choices and large to fight against religious fundamentalism and zealotry.

 

Image of a peace march by Mumbai blogger Vinu (http://vinu.wordpress.com)
Image of a peace march by Mumbai blogger Vinu (http://vinu.wordpress.com)

 

But in the newsroom at the BBC it also led to a rumour being reported as fact (that the Indian government had asked people to stop using Twitter), which Steve feels was a mistake that should not be repeated: 

 

Should we have checked this before reporting it? Made it clearer that we hadn’t? We certainly would have done if we’d wanted to include it in our news stories (we didn’t) or to carry it without attribution. In one sense, the very fact that this report was circulating online was one small detail of the story that day. But should we have tried to check it and then reported back later, if only to say that we hadn’t found any confirmation? I think in this case we should have, and we’ve learned a lesson. The truth is, we’re still finding out how best to process and relay such information in a fast-moving account like this.

 

More rumour, more noise, more information, more pitfalls: that’s what the continued onward march of social media means for news organisations. 

It’s not a new challenge for the Beeb, as a news organisation that puts accuracy and fact above rumour. Twitter just adds a host of potential sources to the mix during a breaking news story. 

I wrote about this a few years ago in post called Rumour or Raw Data, during the pre-Twitter age if you can remember that, when the then Metropolitan Poolic Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, said he instinctively turned on Sky News when the first news of the London tube bombings reached him.  

In the heat of the moment, our instinct says I would rather have the unfiltered news, with the risks of inaccuracies and misinformation, than be late to hear. But – and it’s a significant but – you always want the option of a flight to fact: and that fact is usually found on the BBC, 

The BBC is right to resist falling the Sky News of the line. That’s its role: to tell us what the truth is, when it is as sure as it can be what the truth is.