15 things that twitter does, from @arusbridger

I just watched an (older) video of Alan Rusbridger, the Editor In Chief of the Guardian Newspapers. It was brilliant and you should watch it, here. Alan talks about why people should care about open media becoming mainstream (if it isn’t already) and essentially tells his cynical peers to get their heads out of the sand. I really liked his energy and enthusiasm for learning how the new digital media objects work. He’s also an excellent, eloquent speaker – something I always admire.

Alan Rusbridger mp4

This quote was one of my favourites.

“The change is happening much faster. So fast, that we as an industry are collectivley suffering from what deep sea divers call the bends. We’re travelling through periods of extreme change faster than our corporate bodies can cope with”

He also went on to list 15 things he thought twitter did. I thought I’d list them here for discussion, paraphrased into how I heard them and jotted them down. Watch the video for the verbatim version. It’s at 27:40.

1) It’s an amazing form of distribution. It’s an amazing way to spread content. It’s instantaneous and it’s reach spreads far and wide. This matters because we do distribution, too.

2) It’s where things happen first. Not all things…news organisations still break lots of news but increasingly news happens first on twitter. Why? There are millions of human monitors out there who will pick up on the smallest things who have the same instincts as we do and the agencies do; be first with the news. The more people that join, the better that is going to get.

3) As a search engine, it rivals google. In many respects, Twitter is better at finding stuff out than Google. Instead of algorithms, it harnesses the power of human intelligence.

4) It’s a formidable aggregation tool. If you follow interesting people, they will deliver interesting information to you. No news organisation can hope to compete with the combined power of all those workers bees, finding and distributing interesting information.

5) It’s a great reporting tool. Many of the best reporters are now habitually using twitter to find and gather information. You can find people who were in the right place, at the right time, which might otherwise have disappeared.

6) It’s an amazing form of marketing. You’ve written your piece or your blog. You may have involved others in the researching bit and now you can let them know it’s there so they can come to your site. In marketing speak, it drives traffic and engagement.

7) It’s a series of common conversations; or it can be. As well as reading what you’ve written they can comment on it. There is nothing worse than writing or broadcasting something to no reaction at all. With Twitter, you get an instant reaction. It’s communication, not transmission.

8) It’s more diverse. Traditional media allowed a few voices in. Twitter allows in anybody.

9) It changes the tone of writing. A good conversation involves listening as well as talking. Journalists are fast learners. We’ve started writing differently.

10) It’s a level playing field. The energy of twitter gathers around people that can say things crisply and entertainingly, even though they may be ‘unknown.’ Shock news: Sometimes the people formerly known as readers can write snappier headlines and copy than we can.

11) It has different news values. People on Twitter often have an entirely different opinion about what is and isn’t news. Things people are talking about on Twitter will wash back into our newsrooms and have an affect on what we’re reporting.

12) It has a long attention span. The attention span of twitter puts newspapers to shame. They will be ferreting out and aggregating information on the issues that concern them long after the caravan of professional journalism has moved on.

13) It creates communities. Or, communities formulate around issues, people and other things.

14) It changes notions of authority. Instead of waiting to receive the expert opinions of others, Twitter shifts this responsibility to the collective. A 21 year old student is more likely to be drawn to opinions and thoughts of people like her.

15) It’s an agent of change. As this ability to form community around issues and articulate them grows so too will it have a powerful effect on the people in authority.

A hat tip to Michelle Rowan, which is funnily enough where I saw the link to this video this morning. Ah, the power of twitter!

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