Twitter, and why it matters for media, life, and journalism


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Part of lecture for J 349T Writing for Online Publication, in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. (See or

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  • Show examples from my own Twitter account
  • Some examples: #ona09 (vs. #ONA) #iranelection (vs. #iran) #snowleopard vs. “snow leopard” The key: these are organic tagging systems (folksonomies vs. taxonomies)
  • — What’s different: The media good at creating groups are no good at conversation, and vice versa – that was 20 th century; today, the Web is the first medium in history that has native support for groups and conversation at the same time—not the one-to-one of phones, nor the one-to-many of newspapers and broadcast, but a many-to-many pattern. — Watch Shirky from 5:38 to 12:25
  • Twitter, and why it matters for media, life, and journalism

    1. 1. Twitter Explained (Or, what’s the big deal anyway?)
    2. 2. Overview <ul><li>How it works </li></ul><ul><li>Why it matters </li></ul><ul><li>What it means for journalism </li></ul>Seth C. Lewis •
    3. 3. Part I: How Twitter works, in plain English Seth C. Lewis •
    4. 4. The Twitter terminology Seth C. Lewis •
    5. 5. <ul><li>@ </li></ul><ul><li>RT (or via) </li></ul><ul><li># </li></ul><ul><li>D </li></ul><ul><li>… and lots of shortened URLs </li></ul>Seth C. Lewis •
    6. 6. Twitter Tools Seth C. Lewis • Image via CC on Flickr
    7. 7. Twitter Search Seth C. Lewis •
    8. 8. Part II: Twitter as social media , and why that matters Seth C. Lewis •
    9. 9. The social Web (or Web 2.0 ) <ul><li>Dynamic vs. static </li></ul><ul><li>Participatory vs. passive </li></ul><ul><li>Platforms vs. content </li></ul><ul><li>Rich user interfaces </li></ul><ul><li>Web is the platform for applications </li></ul><ul><li>Power of network effects </li></ul>Seth C. Lewis •
    10. 10. Implications <ul><li>Now, it’s all about open — open-source, open standards, open to everyone. No gates. </li></ul><ul><li>Web publishers create platforms and let users create content </li></ul><ul><li>From one-way to multi-way communication </li></ul><ul><li>From sealed-off information silos to empty warehouses to be filled </li></ul>Seth C. Lewis •
    11. 13. Seth C. Lewis •
    12. 14. Twitter in society Seth C. Lewis • Clay Shirky on Twitter and social media in the 2008 China earthquake
    13. 15. Part III: Twitter and journalism Seth C. Lewis •
    14. 16. Seth C. Lewis •
    15. 17. Key uses by journalists <ul><li>Self-promotion </li></ul><ul><li>Breaking news </li></ul><ul><li>Seek out sources and story tips </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss/debate with everyday folks </li></ul><ul><li>Connect with other journalists </li></ul><ul><li>To provide a human face to the news org </li></ul>Seth C. Lewis •
    16. 18. Getting plugged in <ul><li>“ Collective intelligence system” </li></ul><ul><li>Pulse of the community </li></ul><ul><li>A listening device and organizing tool </li></ul><ul><li>Look at our Statesman </li></ul>Seth C. Lewis •
    17. 19. <ul><li>“ I learned over time by asking what my followers want to see . Right now, we’re at a point in journalism where people are having conversations on social media. If we’re not there, we become irrelevant.” </li></ul><ul><li>— Robert Quigley, @statesman </li></ul>Seth C. Lewis •
    18. 20. In sum <ul><li>Twitter is quirky, organic—know why </li></ul><ul><li>It’s social media, but not Facebook </li></ul><ul><li>Journalists can broadcast , converse and listen </li></ul><ul><li>Mindcasting vs. lifecasting vs. newscasting </li></ul><ul><li>It may fail, but participation is here to stay </li></ul>Seth C. Lewis •