Friday, May 10, 2013

Roundtable :: On News and Social Media

Copil: Wazzup, ninjas?! So we're discussing social media. Specifically, how it's used today, for good and evil.
Copil: Boston was a good example of both, I think.
Matt: Definitely. 20:03
Copil: More good than bad? Or vice versa?
Matt: I would say more good. Since the subreddit helped the FBI identify the suspects, did it not?
Chihuahua Zero: I have an example of "bad" ready to present, along with an example of "good".
Copil: Jump in, CZ!
Chihuahua Zero: Let's stick with Boston first.
Chihuahua Zero: Or rather, the marathon bombing.
Copil: Go ahead, CZ, let's talk Boston.
Chihuahua Zero: I think Boston won't get stuck with the bombing association, like Steubenville's incident. But Twitter was indeed interesting in the hours after the bombings. Here's a relevant article:
Matt: I agree CZ, Beantown has way too much history to be defined by the bombings.
Jaime: I think in many ways the information on Twitter and other forms of social media were more reliable and less frustrating than what the news outlets were putting out there.
Katy: I agree, Jaime.
Copil: I agree too, Jaime. I felt like, even if the info was wrong, updates only seemed to come when there was something new.
Copil: As opposed to the MSM, where there were a lot of talking heads saying they had nothing new.
Matt: Totally agree.
Jaime: Also, we weren't being bombarded with the same awful images over and over again. Just the news without all the shock value.
Copil: And the wrong stuff got edited when new info contradicted it.
Chihuahua Zero: Although social media is pretty self-correcting, it still has moments where misinformation spreads.
Matt: When they finally found suspect 2, I was switching back and forth between Fox and CNN, just out of curiosity, and it was very strange to see the stark differences.
LEIGH: I was following the police scanner on Twitter. It was INTENSE.
Copil: Same here, Leigh! Interesting thing about that... The police, at times, had just as inaccurate information as the rest of us did. Like the identity of the suspect - for a while, the police ALSO thought it was the missing Brown student.
LEIGH: I couldn't get NEWS on the networks, which was frustrating. Just a lot of fluff and speculation.
Katy: I rarely watch the popular news networks for that reason, Leigh
Chihuahua Zero: In the end, I think sometimes a more stable force makes a good balance for a spontaneous source like Twitter. For example, Snopes.
Copil: One question about the MSM, and the way they handled it. Do you think they were "boring" or "slow" because they were doing what they were supposed to be doing? IE, confirming before reporting?
Jaime: That's possible, Copil. One would hope that's the case, anyway.
LEIGH: I used to work at a TV station. Reporters can only do so much--they're not in the station listening to the scanners.
LEIGH: Twitter made it INSTANT
Matt: There is very little hard news on MSM anymore. I get all my news from NPR.
Chihuahua Zero: Although even though news has a little more reliability due to slowness, it allows misinformation to linger longer. Every new sources has pros and cons.
LEIGH: My first day working at the station, a shooting occurred at a MLKJr parade. It blew UP, and I was answering calls from NYC and London. EVERY reporter was called to the station and sent out in the field w/a camera man, but the SCANNERS were back with us at the station so there was a delay between what we were hearing and what they were getting--even with what the cops were getting.
Copil: Crazy, Leigh!
Matt: Fascinating.
LEIGH: Is it GOOD for the public to have this access to info? Maybe. Maybe not.
Chihuahua Zero: Even with Twitter, there's always delay.
Copil: Leigh, I think it's good. But I think we have to remember that just because it comes from the raw source, it's not necessarily better.
Matt: I think in the long run, truth, and facts, will always benefit society, but it's a matter of learning how to process things when they're coming at you so damn fast. The world is changing at a hyperbolic speed.
Chihuahua Zero: I think with the chase, there was a request at one point for people to stop sharing information from the scanner, just in case the suspect was watching social media.
Copil: Still plenty of misinformation. The police are human, too. So they spread rumor as truth sometimes without intending to.
LEIGH: Working at the station taught me to trust local stations more -- they know their market/community. National networks call the affiliates in cases like this--even Boston.
Chihuahua Zero: @Matt: Yes it is. It's scary in a way.
Karen: It's the Hive Mind effect taking over.
Chihuahua Zero: I feel like that at one point, the technological train will accelerate at lightning speed, leave most of us in the dust -- and then crash.
Copil: Crash how, CZ?
LEIGH: Possibly, CZ, but I think for the most part, people want to help.
Chihuahua Zero: Technological change is speeding up exponentially, but it will stop eventually. There's a limit. Or at least, it will reach a plateau.
Matt: Interesting. There are some things that seem to point to that. Moore's Law was one.
LEIGH: CZ -- we could compare it to the early 20th century when communication was evolving. Telegraph to radio to TV all coming after print.
Copil: Not if you read Ray Kurzweil. At that point, we hit the singularity, and everything is recreated by a computer. Imma live forever, yo!!!
Matt: LOL @ Copil
Chihuahua Zero: And technological discovery will slow down until we hit the next milestone and speed up again.
LEIGH: Right! I agree. I think it'll plateau, we'll refine how we use it, then something new will blow up. Star Trek. I just hope that singularity will hit in my lifetime, if it's positive.
Matt: What's that Einstein quote about technology vs. humanity?
Jaime: Is that the one about a generation of idiots?
Chihuahua Zero: "It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity."
Copil: I do like the instant info and the people who collect it. I'm a little less fond of the vigilantes (although I was happy with Anon's efforts in Steubenville).
LEIGH: How would you guys say Social Media was used for EVIL in Boston?
Copil: Reddit outed several wrong suspects in the early hours after the bombing.
LEIGH: RIGHT! the guys who were fingered on CNN, you mean?
LEIGH: And in the NY Post? Radicalized a few otherwise peaceful peeps.
Copil: True, Leigh, you're right that the MSM can get it just as wrong.
Jaime: This is where that Hive Mind Karen mentioned kind of freaks me out. I worry about vigilantism when they point the finger at the wrong people so publicly.
Karen: Yes, Hive Mind can be great for sharing CORRECT info but if it's wrong it can cause big problems.
Chihuahua Zero: Also, there was that one incident when Kim Kardashian's Twitter sent out some self-promotion and people got angry… I've been wondering about that.
Matt: The Kardashian promo tweet was a hard lesson for them, I'm sure. Even though it was probably scheduled, it still was bad.
Katy: Does anyone ever feel like some newscaster (especially on the popular networks) revel in crisis and bad news? Like, I'm sure they're sad about what's going on, but at the same time they're pumped about a big story? This is mostly why I stick to social media (or magazines) for my news.
Jaime: I think so, Katy. Sad, but true.
Matt: Definitely, Katy.
LEIGH: Katy--that's a weird situation. Looking back at what happened with us, there's an adrenaline that kicks in b/c everything is happening so fast, but nobody's HAPPY about this news. Nobody wants to report that three little girls were shot, but when everything blows up, phones ringing off the hook... I think it's more moving fast than anything else.
Copil: Right, Leigh. I have a good friend who worked TV news for a long time. She hated some of the stories, but the bigger ones were a challenge they all enjoyed.
LEIGH: The public demands justice, they demand to know what's going on, everybody wants to know WHY.
Chihuahua Zero: @Leigh: Yep, that's the feeling.
LEIGH: …and they're looking at US to give them these answers. Copil--yep, it's hard. There's sort of a built in expectation that you can turn on the TV and find out what's happening when something like this goes down. That's a burden everyone in the newsroom feels. Especially when EVERYONE'S calling--including the networks.
Chihuahua Zero: I had plans that day to do stuff off the computer, but I just wanted to stay tuned for more and more development.
Chihuahua Zero: Another issue I want to bring up: “Twitchforks.”
LEIGH: What are Twitchforks...?
Jaime: Ooo, good term!
Matt: I'm fine with moving on. It's related.
Chihuahua Zero: Twitchforks: Basically pitchforks for mobs, but with social media as the medium.
Chihuahua Zero: Here's the article.
LEIGH: Give me an example... nothing's coming to mind. Scott Peterson was pre-Twitter...
Copil: Excellent term. Maybe the way things turned on Kony2012 is an example.
Chihuahua Zero: There are cases where people overreact to a real or false injustice, and they lash out at the "perpetrator", doing stuff from leaving negative comments to posting personal information.
LEIGH: I can see there's real potential for this happening---has it happened? I kind of missed the Kony stuff... wasn't that proven false?
Chihuahua Zero: Really, it's scary when someone goes into a self-righteous rage by posting the address of someone or photos of their children.
LEIGH: Holy... has that happened???
Chihuahua Zero: Check out the article I linked. It has.
Copil: It's called doxing and it is part of the vigilante side of things.
Chihuahua Zero: It's really gets into the motivations of social media mobs.
Katy: I read that article yesterday, CZ... Scary, scary stuff.
Chihuahua Zero: The thing is, mobs have existed throughout history, but social media allows a faster way for them to channel their cause.
LEIGH: This really isn't anything new. I guess I worked in communications a long time.
Karen: I think part of the problem is so many people have fallen into the habit of instantly replying on social media sites. Sometimes an instant reply is not the best reply. People lash out, or comment when they are reactive emotionally, or just don't think before they type.
LEIGH: Karen--good point. Instant reply sux.
Jaime: @CZ Faster and more widespread, I'd say.
Karen: I want to say "Take a few deep breaths and step away from the technologicla device!"
Jaime: @Karen: That's totally true. Sometimes the best reaction is none at all. Just walk away.
LEIGH: Jaime--good point. I didn't keep up, but does what happened to Hugh Howey qualify?
Karen: Leigh, are we talking about the "Suck it, bitch" incident?
Karen: I think he was trying to be funny. And just like many things in life, funny is very subjective.
LEIGH: Karen—yeppers.
Copil: Can the lion be tamed? Meaning, can we learn to handle the power of the hive mind?
LEIGH: Copil--I say no.
Copil: I feel we're already starting to, with people reminding each other to hold off posting info until details are confirmed.
Chihuahua Zero: @Copil: I think so. Not completely, but maybe if we get social media into our education more...
LEIGH: Using electronic communication is a learned skill -- learning to couch statements, requests.
Matt: The thing that sucked about Hugh Howey is that he had a totally valid point about Con behavior and SP bias, but it was totally lost when he started slinging slurs.
Chihuahua Zero: In school, we're taught about cyberbullying and how anything put onto the Internet can be on there forever, but not really on some of the less obvious stuff.
LEIGH: Matt -- you're so right; CZ -- I couldn't agree more.
Copil: I feel like the younger gen looks at these issues in a different light. They've used this stuff almost from birth so they're a little more used to the speed and instability of the medium.
Chihuahua Zero: I think in general, the Internet MIGHT mellow out over time as another generation turns over.
Copil: CZ, I agree, I think newer generations will have whatever disruption comes in their time and will kinda laugh at our handwringing.
LEIGH: I had a boss who taught me to start all email requests with, "If you would, please..." and end with "Thank you." I wonder if that applies to young users.
Chihuahua Zero: @Leigh: That "If you would, please" trick sounds like a good reminder to keep it cool.
Chihuahua Zero: Once both parent and child have grown up with social media and Internet communication, it'll be easier for Internet users to learn and have hammered in etiquette.
LEIGH: great point, CZ!
Copil: Anyone reading any YA that addresses these issues?
Chihuahua Zero: @Copil: Hmm...not recently, I don't think so. Has anyone read YA that have addressed social media, cyberbullying, or anything else that can occur on the Internet?
Copil: I wonder if we're still a few years away from seeing this stuff in print or if it's at the printers as we speak.
Matt: Empty, by KM Walton, includes some Facebook bullying.
Chihuahua Zero: One book I read that incorporates Twitter into the story, but as a supplement, is FanGirl by Angel Lawson.
Matt: More at the printers too, I'm sure, Copil.
Katy: Some Girls Are has some cyber bullying.
Jaime: I just bought SOME GIRLS ARE and can't wait to read it!
LEIGH: I think this concept is very sexy as a writer--I can imagine all sorts of scary setups. As a mom, it scares the pants off me.
Chihuahua Zero: The problem is the issue that the book might not age well. But is it possible to avoid that issue through writing a book like a period piece?
Matt: So true, CZ. Imagine a book that incorporated Myspace, or Friendster. This is why I set all my books in the 90s, so they'll never age poorly.
Jaime: @Matt: The 90s were epic.
Matt: Best decade ever.
Jaime: Class of '96 here.
Matt: 95!
Copil: LOL, Matt! I agree, Leigh. The cyberbullying is less interesting to me (mainly because it just makes me crazy mad) but the whole vigilante, hive mind thing I think is fertile ground.
LEIGH: My 10 yr old just said, “The good thing is you can keep up with friends far away.” (We moved recently). “The bad thing is you don't know who's going to see the message.”
Copil: Or for how long, it's permanent.
LEIGH: great point, Copil.
Chihuahua Zero: Speaking of Friendster, I'm currently using a music-centered social media called @Leigh: And those are good points.
Chihuahua Zero: Oh! I'm currently reading THE FUTURE OF US! It's about teens in the 90's seeing Facebook from the future. 20:43
Katy: That is a cool book, CZ, especially for us old people who remember the times of dial-up.
Chihuahua Zero: It highlights the differences between today and back then.
Jaime: I can still hear that dial up screech in my head. Haunts me...
Chihuahua Zero: It helps me understand what the 90's are like.
Copil: Do any of you get your breaking news PRIMARILY from Twitter or Reddit?
Jaime: I wouldn't say primarily, Copil.
Matt: I heard about Boston on Facebook. I'm on it all day at the office, but I can't keep up with Twitter. I think I follow too many people.
Jaime: I'm Canadian, so I rely a lot on CBC (a national station here) for national and international news.
Copil: The great thing about Twitter and Reddit is that there's usually one or two people who take it upon themselves to consolidate all the breaking info from all feeds: radio, TV, scanners, tweets.
Matt: That's like me. I don't get breaking news from NPR, but I listen to Morning Edition every day on my commute.
Jaime: I have my Twitter trends set to United States because the news is more interesting. Sad, but true. That being said, Twitter is usually the quickest way to find out about stuff. You know, as it happens.
Chihuahua Zero: I use Twitter.
Copil: I feel like there's a model waiting to bust through, a way of making that a thing that happens with a few people sort of rising as the stars of the new medium.
Chihuahua Zero: By the way, do you know that Demi Lovato recently used Twitter in a neat marketing campaign for her upcoming album?
Copil: No, what'd she do?
Chihuahua Zero: She did a countdown for releasing streams for her new songs, and you can speed up the release by tweeting certain hashtags.
Chihuahua Zero: Of course, her fans managed to get all the tracks released in one day, while getting the hashtags trending worldwide.
Copil: Brilliant. I love that people are still finding new ways to use the medium.
Matt: I find that to be a bit pretentious, but then I'm probably just old. Actually, I find Twitter in general to be a bit pretentious. I used to be so cool. Sigh.
Jaime: I was never cool.
Matt: You're hanging with the cool kids now, Jaime.
Chihuahua Zero: I'll probably consider buying at least one of Demi's songs now, a sign that her campaign worked.
Jaime: Cool things can happen when a bunch of people get behind something.
Just look at Kickstarter campaigns.
Copil: I wish there were a new sort of news channel, where you click on the link and it's basically a catalog of all the aggregators putting together updates on breaking stories. I guess that's sort of what Reddit is. But there should be the CNN of that stuff.
Jaime: I’ve never checked out Reddit.
Copil: Jaime, it's one of my favorites. There's also a teen subreddit which is interesting to read for YA material, language, themes, etc.
Matt: I was going to mention the Front Page of the Internet, Copil. There should be a Front Page of Twitter.
Jaime: Copil, that sounds really handy! Will have to check it out.
Chihuahua Zero: @Copil: I'll check it out too!
Copil: It's how I learned there's a weird, kind of aggressive trend to outdo one another in outlandishness while asking your prom date to prom. Kinda ugly, really.
Chihuahua Zero: Now, can I bring up
Matt: Yes, go CZ.
Chihuahua Zero: So, is a chatroom service where you can be a DJ and play music for everyone else. Here's an example of a chatroom I'm DJing at:
Chihuahua Zero: It's an interesting alternative to Pandora.
Jaime: @CZ: That sounds like a great way to find out about new music.
Copil: CZ, you are my jam. "Now that the shoes on the other foooooooooooot!"
Jaime: So I just clicked on and got the "U.S. only" message. Love the heck out of that. We have this governing body in Canada called the CRTC and they block out a lot of non-Canadian content. It's kind of like living in a dystopian world.
Matt: Wait. You're a DJ, CZ?
Chihuahua Zero: @Matt: Not really. Just at You just get on the table, play a song, get thumbs up or thumbs down.
Matt: Oh, so it's not like actually mixing tracks?
Chihuahua Zero: @Matt: Not really, but you can upload your own music. @Jaime: That's the sucky thing about music. Copyright is so restrictive when it comes to it.
Jaime: Well, CZ, it's very cool that you're doing that, and I would have loved to check it out.
Chihuahua Zero: Now, is there anything to discuss more? We have gone from Boston to Twitchforks to YA to Demi to Reddit to Turntable.
Matt: I was hoping to dip into the edit war at Wikipedia over the "American Authors" list, but I think we can save it for next time.
Jaime: That one feels like a conversation of its own. Great topic for next time.
Chihuahua Zero: Yeah, let's discuss the Wikipedia issue next time. It might resolve by then, but yet again, the bombings have some closure already.
Matt: Agreed.
Jaime: Well, I guess I'll say goodbye for now. Talk to you guys later!


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