July 18, 2008

Twitter delivering news is a only a start

Steve Outing is right when he talks about Twitter as a news source on friends' activities.

In his July 18th post, he says:
"My local newspaper didn’t tell me that my friend Yann crashed on his mountain bike and ended up in the hospital this week. Twitter did, since he posted a note to his Twitter followers about the accident.

I think this points out a problem and an opportunity for newspapers. Problem: they don’t offer people the micro-local and personal news and information that makes a difference in people’s lives. Opportunity: they need to offer the micro-local and personal news and information that makes a difference in people’s lives."
But even as I agree with the opportunity, there are two obstacles, as I said in a comment:
"Now if I could only figure out a way for alarms to signal when Tweets, Facebook statuses, LinkedIn notices, FriendFeed postings, Plurks, Google alerts, etc need immediate attention

And would you believe I still know people who won’t go online, much less share such information."
It is true that I tend to go overboard, which is the only way to explain why I couldn't remember my real Digg login this morning - I know I have dugg more than 2 online things since 2007.

Surely, there are more folks who are mixing up relationships - I want to know immediately when some are hospitalized, others I can wait until the next time I log in. How do I sort those items automatically?

Even more frightening is that for as much as some of us may use computers to communicate there are those who still use paper and pen or the phone.

It will/would take huge amounts of training to set people up with their individual feeds. Then, to show them how to find friends? Yikes. I am lucky that the 1930s marital scale shared by Susan Beebe on FriendFeed didn't include a line about being patient when showing your spouse how to find folks to follow on Twitter or I would have fared even worse in the quest for perfection.

Complicate that with the other social media programs, much less news feeds, and we are in trouble.

I'm not saying it is impossible - just that from experience I know that having something isn't enough. You have to offer training.

I know many feel they need a tour guide to Flint's online newspaper.


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