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Ad Hoc Social Innovation on Twitter

The next session at Challenge Social Innovation starts with my own paper, on Twitter as a case for social innovation (and the challenges which exist in such a proprietary environment, governed by competing interests). My Powerpoint is below, and I’ll try to add the audio later the audio is online now, too. The full paper is also online here.

Open Innovation in the News Industry

The next speakers in this session at the Future of Journalism conference are Tanja Aitamurto and Seth Lewis. Their focus is on open innovation in the news industry: the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate innovation. Such innovation is necessary in news, due to the continuing increase in media platforms, the shortening of product lifecycles, the rapid change of consumer habits, and the diminishing resources available.

Tanja and Seth have identified three cases which exemplify such innovation. How does such innovation manifest in the news industry, and what implications does it have in research and development work? At the macro level, one such example is the Knight News Challenge. It is a high-profile competition examining the future of news, and can be seen to be setting the agenda for journalism innovation; overall, it has wide influence in journalism. Knight follows an inside-out process by providing funds, reports, and signals to the industry, as well as an outside-in process that taps into the wisdom of actors outside of journalism; this results in a coupled process which straddles the boundaries of journalism by linking journalists and technologists.

Some Long-Overdue Updates

Sorry: it’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog. Largely, that’s because I’ve been so busy with our work on the Mapping Online Publics project – see the project blog for all the latest information. Following the various natural disasters we’ve endured – in Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, to begin with –, that work has focussed for the moment especially on the use of social media for crisis communication, with plenty of outcomes already. In particular, this includes our two most recent presentations:

Slides and audio from both presentations are now online here – just follow the links above.

Gatekeeping, Gatewatching, Echtzeitfeedback: Neue Herausforderungen für den Journalismus (University of Vienna 2011)

Gatekeeping, Gatewatching, Echtzeitfeedback: Neue Herausforderungen für den Journalismus

Axel Bruns

  • 9 May 2011 – Guest lecture at the University of Vienna

Wie Blogger und andere unabhängige Kommentatoren im Netz den herkömmlichen Journalismus kritisieren, korrigieren, und anderweitig herausfordern, ist bereits seit Jahren bekannt, aber noch längst nicht von allen Journalisten verinnerlicht worden; noch immer flammen die Feindseligkeiten zwischen dem Medienestablishment und der neuen Generation von Webseiten gelegentlich wieder auf. Das alte Gatekeeping-Monopol der Massenmedien wird dabei durch die neue Praxis des Gatewatching infragegestellt: von einzelnen Bloggern und Communities von Kommentatoren, die zwar selbst nicht viel Neues berichten, dabei aber die Nachrichten und sonstige Informationen offizieller Quellen neu zusammenstellen und bewerten und so einen wichtigen Dienst leisten. Und dies geschieht nun auch noch immer schneller, geradezu in Echtzeit: über neueste soziale Netzwerke, die in Minutenschnelle Nachrichten weiterleiten, kommentieren, hinterfragen, oder widerlegen können, und über zusätzliche Plattformen, die schnelle und effektive Ad-Hoc-Zusammenarbeit möglich machen. Wenn hunderte Freiwilliger innerhalb weniger Tage einen deutschen Minister des schweren Plagiats überführen können, wenn die Welt von Erdbeben und Tsunamis zuerst per Twitter erfährt: wie kommt der Journalismus da noch mit?

Hybrid Organisational Innovation: The Case of Tela Botanica

The next speaker at AoIR 2010 is Serge Proulx, who is interested in how sharing practices are organised in the collaborative knowledge environment Tela Botanica. What does it mean to contribute to this type of online environment? The site is a French-language site for discussions on botany, founded in 1999, and highly successful in its field (with some 12,000 members to date).

The site publishes a weekly newsletter with some 7,700 subscribers that is open to contribution to all and allows for comments attached to articles; it also posts events and job offers. There is also the E-Flore database of plant descriptions which uses can contribute to (and which is professionally overseen), an online resource of bibliographic references, and a collaborative project space that allows site members to develop specific projects.

A Technological Shaping of the Social in Evidence-Based Policymaking Platforms

The next speaker at AoIR 2010 is Anders Madsen, whose focus is on design choices in policy-oriented technologies of knowledge management. This operates in the context of discussions over the role of knowledge in democracy – how is the relevance of information and facts settled? Two divergent approaches to this highlight the role of science in generating evidence-based policy (which responds to well-defined problems), or alternatively see a range of wicked problems that need broad participation and socially robust policies.

Digital democracy can aid policymaking in these contexts; policymaking procedures can be grounded in new technologies of knowledge management – but this too is either simply about efficient and transparent data-sharing, or about the collaborative production of knowledge, reflecting the earlier division. Some of this leads to discussions of Web design - for example drawing on clearly structured Semantic Web developments, or more folksonomically organised Web 2.0 structures.

Prevalent Community Values on Wikipedia

The next speaker at AoIR 2010 is Jonathan Morgan, who shifts our focus to Wikipedia. His interest is in how communal values are expressed by participants on the site – for example around specific controversies on the site. His project examined the debates around the Jyllands Posten / Muhammad cartoons controversy; here, the editors who created the Wikipedia entry covering this issue decided to include the offending cartoon in the entry at first, which generated substantial debate.

The site’s professed aim is to empower and engage people around the world, and founder Jimmy Wales has echoed these sentiments in his own statements. Surveys of Wikipedians in the English-language Wikipedia also refer to altruism, reciprocity, sense of community, as well as fun and a sense of mission.

Examining Everyday Uses of Twitter

The next session at ECREA 2010 is the one I’m in as well – but we start with Stine Lomborg, whose interest is in relationality on Twitter. This build on my concept of produsage, and examines this especially for the case of mundane, ordinary conversational activities. To engage in such communication, Twitter users must establish networks with each other – but such networks are non-symmetric, as followees won’t necessarily always follow back. This creates a particularly interest network structure.

Stine examined the activities of six Danish Twitter users, and captured their tweets and @replies over the course of a lengthy period of time. How does the Twitter network shape the emergent communicative practices on the site; how does an individual user’s network affect their negotiation of topics and purposes of interaction, and what types of relationality do Twitter-based networks facilitate?

Surveying Online Political Participation in the Netherlands

The last day at ECREA 2010 starts with a paper by Tom Bakker, whose interest is in mapping participation in citizen media activities in the Netherlands. He notes that participation in social media still appears to be growing strongly overall – and these shifts in the media ecology necessarily bring about some significant changes. The potential for such change has been highlighted for journalism (gatekeeping is said to be declining, agenda setting, news values, standards, and ethics are shifting, and diversity is increasing), as well as for the wider public sphere (thought to be more inclusive, active, deliberative, with more political discourse that is more representative of public opinion).

The present study tested this in a large-scale study in the Netherlands. It surveyed some 2130 people over 13 years of age during December 2009. One question asked in this context was whether people were reading comments: some 55% never did, the rest read them at various levels of intensity. 75% never read political comments, 83% never posted comments, and 94% never posted political comments online.

Towards a Typology of Locative Media

The last ECREA 2010 panel tonight starts with my QUT colleague Tanya Nitins, whose interest is in locative media. There’s been significant development in this in recent times, through wireless devices and and GPS-enabled phones. This divides into social-annotative, commercial-annotative, navigational, and combined forms of locative media.

A number of concepts have been applied to this – LBS, geospatial Web, GeoWeb, pervasive computing, sonic signage, GPS, and many other terms. We must therefore develop the language to communicate more clearly with one another as we research these technologies.


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