Immediacy is not the same as quality

posted by Jeff | Sunday, June 14, 2009, 11:04 AM | comments: 2

Scoble has a rant about how much CNN sucks because it wasn't covering the Iranian election aftermath the way that it was "covered" on Twitter. I'm not defending CNN or indicating that they're some bastion of journalistic integrity, but what annoys me is that Scoble and other techie/social media nerds launch into these masturbatory tirades to champion "their" new media, and I think they're somewhat full of crap.

The core problem that I see with this is that immediacy is confused with quality. In the case of news, it's a lot like a gossipping knitting circle. Things on Twitter can fester into facts without any verification, and when someone figures out they're not facts, no one is accountable. Short messages offer no context, there's no filtering mechanism, there's no verification. What you're left with is a series of possibilities in a sea of noise.

Mainstream news outlets will take longer to get the story. I don't understand how that makes them less effective for any news short of something that puts my immediate safety in danger (nuclear war, checmical attacks, etc.). God forbid the day that fear and panic is spread via social media for something completely untrue.

And honestly, this immediacy versus quality thing is not limited to news. There's irony in Scoble's post that, in the very same post, he rants about how awesome it was to meet up with Twitter's founder. If he put these in the same post, that says to me that these two topics are of equal importance to him. There is little question in my mind that the quality of face to face human interaction is far greater than the trivial and immediate virtual contact that comes from online social media.



June 15, 2009, 8:51 AM #

I was listening to TWiT, and they had a similar twitter love fest over the Iran thing, and I was surprised (not really) no one brought up the accuracy/quality versus immediacy.

The first example that popped into my head was Columbine, where info got rapidly propagated because of the immediacy of text messaging and/or cell phones. And most of it was wrong! Hell, a book ended up being written about one of the victims, and the basis for the book was found to have never actually happened!


June 15, 2009, 6:09 PM #

So on target. Frankly, I have enough work to do sorting through the legitimate news media to assess the reality of a situation. The social networks can never be trustworthy sources of news for all the reasons you cite and more.

My concern is that so many users of the social networks rant with hate or sadly, simply have no concept of how their words may be perceived by others and the resulting propagation effect of the internet.

We already know God cares little about the fear and panic that can be spread by the media, social or otherwise.

The reason face to face interaction is so powerful is that it is real, accountable and provides the means for immediate clarification of any misunderstanding.

Post your comment: