So you don’t have to surf the Web …
1. Your weekly “get off my lawn” rant about participatory media this week comes from The Digital Journalist via the provocatively titled “Let’s Abolish ‘Citizen Journalists’.” I kid, of course, because I have more respect for journalists who come out and just say what they think rather than pick at the edges. To wit:
There are citizens and there are journalists. Everybody can be one of the former, but to be called a journalist means that you are a professional. Either you have been schooled in journalism, or you have “paid your dues,” rising slowly through the ranks.
I disagree, of course, and I don’t think the pros help their cause a bit by arguing on the basis of elitism. For an interesting follow-up, check out Jay Rosen’s virtual interview with Dirck Halstead, editor and publisher of The Digital Journalist.
2. Via Mashable, Twitter is about to open up the “firehose” to API developers by making all data for all tweets available. This will put developers on more even footing, but more important, it will really spur more creative Twitter applications. Between that and the launch of Google Real-Time, which will be indexing social media content continuously, it looks like 2010 will be a big year for the growth of the conversation Web.
3. What makes an academic tick? A great post by my colleague Hans Meyer at Ohio U unpacks it a bit. It starts with an exploration of how the iTunes shuffle feature is so-not-random but uses that to demonstrate the change that happens in the process of becoming a scholar. Rather than ask how or why things work (or in this case don’t work), you set about trying to determine it for yourself. It’s intellectual self-reliance. Good stuff:
So what does this post have to do with the media? Nothing really, but I wrote it so I can refer back to it on days when I don’t feel as smart as the other bloggers and researchers I read. Maybe I’m not as smart as they are, but at least I’m working on it, at least I’ve come to the point where I don’t just ask questions, I actually try to find the answers through rigorous application of scientific methods. Even if I don’t have all the answers, I have something valuable to add to the discussion. I have my perspective which I can defend because I’ve objectively looked at the evidence, as stupid as it may be.
4. President Obama visited the Lehigh Valley last week to talk job creation, and Twitter was abuzz. Citizen journalists (sorry, I won’t abolish the term) took photos, and folks from all walks shared details and info using the #obamalv hashtag. It was interesting to read through the feed in real-time and see people of different views converging together in a shared space of discussion.
5. Via The Oatmeal, you don’t have to be a Web designer to have experienced this type of misery before, but you might laugh with a bit more understanding.
6. David Cohn of the most excellent Spot.Us wrote an interesting piece for PBS’ Idea Lab walking us through the cool bit of innovation that happened this fall between his site, McSweeney’s, and the SF Public Press. The collaboration helped create a dynamic story, “The Bay Bridge Explained,” that got wider exposure via partners in the process. I’m pretty upfront in my love for Spot, and they remind me every day that there’s a difference between trying something (anything!) and trying something good. Cohn may not have hit on the future here, but this is going to be a part of it.
7. Good post by Dan Gillmor today attacked ghostwritten editorials used by the mainstream professional press, in this case inspired by a piece “written” by Sarah Palin. I agree with Gillmor insofar as we’re talking about transparency; while these editorials are really advertorials for a candidate, source of the writing aside they can help drive public discussion and so I have no problem with using these pieces per se. What’s dishonest, as Gillmor notes, is printing bylines when nobody really believes the candidate actually wrote it. Even a one-sentence agate line at the end saying the column used a ghostwriter would be a welcome change. If we don’t do this kind of thing, it really keeps us from doing what we should be doing as media, which is deconstructing the myth of image-candidates.