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April 13, 2007

Breaking Twitter News, Citizen Journalism and NPR


I just popped into Twitter to see what my Twitteritas were up to, and GraceD had a link to her post on the earthquake in Mexico City. What is interesting about this - is that people broke the story with entries into Twitter. As GraceD calls it "Citizen Journalism 2.0":

"That this is Citizen Journalism 2.0, a mix of new web social networks and tools - Twitter, flickr - hooked in with blogs, webcast, chatrooms, video feeds, and mobile devices. "

All of the social networking and web 2.0 tools are giving ordinary citizens the access to post breaking stories, without delay, spin or editing. I find this type of information the most interesting to read. Some may say that citizen journalism is flawed because it does not go through an editorial process. I say that everyone should get the full story: mainstream news coverage along with the raw information available from citizen journalists community sites (Twitter, YouTube, Digg, Huffington Post, BlogHer) to see what people are really feeling. Or accessing mainstream media that have citizen journalism projects like MSNBC, New York Times and CNN. Along with Wall Street Journal building community with blogs and the interactive reporting of the Washington Post .

This is also a great opportunity to give children a different view of world events. But be careful, some of the information may be too graphic for young kids so it is important to pick and choose what citizen journalism or even mainstream journalism that you share with them.  I do not know what the right age is to let them see the "whole" story. Maybe that should just be something that organically happens when they start asking. My friends with kids in high school said their sons learned many lessons on world events by listening to NPR while commuting to school. Not such a bad idea.....

Links if this leaves you wanting more:

Dec. 2006 providing a history of Citizen Journalism

June 2006 post on The People Formerly Known as the Audience.


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Beth, thank you most kindly for this post. Your efforts in acquiring the most comprehesive overview of a news event - from traditional sources, op-ed sites like Huffington Post, and citizen input - is what we all must do to be truly media saavy. I commend you for setting this example.

You make an excellent point about exposing children to the raw stuff coming through these multiple news feeds. This was certainly the case during Katrina and the tsunami and continues to be an urgent issue with conflicts worldwide - Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan. When you have Iraqi insurgents posting videos of sniper attacks on US soldiers on YouTube, images of bodies in the street and floating in flood waters posted in the blogs, flickr and PhotoBucket, all of that readily accessible material is certainly disturbing to all of us, but really takes a toll on kids.

Again, thank you for these keen observations.

Dave Winer, father of RSS says “Twitter, as it was conceived, was never meant to live.”

“It’s very possible with better engineering its architecture might have gone on for a few more years, but eventually it would have hit this wall, where there were too many people posting too many twits to too many followers. The scale of the system as conceived rises exponentially.”

So is the end of Twitter getting near? I hope not. Twitter I hope that you are listening and you better start taking things more seriously.

Here's my two cents.

For instance there are about 100m users of yahoo messenger and usually 2-3 of them talk at a time that means scalability of 300m conversations. On the other hand with 100m twitter users who usually send messages to 100-10,000 other users the scalability required is 10,000m to 10^6m I have never known any current architecture based on webservers to handle such a scale. So according to me Twitter was never meant to live. It is like a concept car that will never see production. Users of twitter don't understand this and they don't care.
They don't know whats happening when the website is down. The sad part is that the best analysts claim that Twitter is a billion dollar company in one year of operations. There is an old saying before the days of when people understood permutation combinations. One peasant asked a king to give him rice equal to the total amount gotten by placing double the number of rice grains on a chess square than the previous square, starting with one rice grain. There are 8x8=64 squares. We seriously need to visit grade 7 mathematics.

I know of only one News/Messaging system that supports around 1 billion users sending messages to all 1 billion users each. Thats a scalability of 10^12m. It is not Web based but rather on a massively scalable serverless P2P architecture based. The team is soft spoken and when I last talked to them I was told that they don't care about money or hype or fame but rather for just the passion of next generation global systems that will stand the test of worldwide use. Its called Mermaid News http://mermaid.metaaso.com

They have other softwares too but this post is about Twitter and Messaging. Once everyone comprehends basic mathematics that goes behind scalable algorithms they would go past the flashy screen and hype to actually want a system they can trust. To the analysts I would say it is easy to create a business plan, create a hype and raise $20m funding it is far more difficult to create something of use.

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