by Mike Masnick
Wed, Mar 23rd 2011 7:01pm
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Feb 15th 2011 11:04pm
from the technology-does-what-technology-does dept
USSR, August 19 1991: While Mikhaïl Gorbatchev was on holiday in his datcha located in Crimea, Eight apparatchiks attempted to seize power over the state. Hostile to reforms, the “Gang of Eight” tried to prevent the Perestoika reforms and the loss of their satellite states. These eight orthodox Communists launched an attempted coup d’état by installing themselves as The State Committee of the State of Emergency. After Gobatchev returned he tried to restore order and save face, but it was clear that this episode would eventually lead to his downfall.Obviously, it's not an identical situation to what's been going on today, but there is an interesting parallel, about how people gravitate to tools of communication in such events. And, no, I'm not serious about the "Usenet revolution" claims, but it is neat to see what was effectively an early version of the way that people in various countries have used today's online social networking tools to communicate with the outside world. At the very least, it's a fun historical read, that covers a story that many folks probably know nothing about.
In this well documented event, there is an interesting historically episode which is often overlooked. During the two days of the coup the Russian media was shut down, and thus not covering Boris Yeltsin ranting on top of a tank for the crowd, nor the shock of the international community. All channels were blacked-out except for one; Usenet, which is the grandfather of chat-rooms and is capable or surviving without the Internet. For these precious 48 hours, a few dozen individuals contributed to this last means of communication with the outside world.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Feb 11th 2011 8:26am
from the you-really-don't-get-it dept
But, apparently, no single moment seems to cement in people's minds the cluelessness of NBC more than the firing of Conan O'Brien.
Of course, out of that situation, O'Brien has emerged stronger than ever in many ways and a large part of that has been his somewhat unexpected and (initially) hesitant embrace of social media. Fortune has a wonderful article describing the details of what they call "Conan 2.0," which is fascinating in many ways -- including the many ways in which things are so different than when he was an employee at NBC. But the story that stood out most to me was how, soon after Conan started using Twitter, NBC threatened him and wanted him to shut down the account.
You may recall that as part of his separation package from NBC, Conan had to sign a deal that kept him off network TV for a while and forbade him from disparaging the network. But it said nothing about the internet -- in part because the folks at NBC still live in a TV centric world where they didn't even think about the internet as an issue. So the whole Twitter thing took them by surprise:
"What was interesting about it," points out O'Brien, "is that all the legal prohibitions were coming from people in the old media. They were saying you can't do all these things, and pretty quickly we realized, 'Wait a minute!' Someone said, 'Does that include Twitter? No. It doesn't include Twitter.' And so I started tweeting."The article then goes on to highlight how much more digitally connected O'Brien and his team have become, even to their own surprise. For example, while they had originally planned an ad budget to advertise O'Brien's standup tour last year, instead they decided to just mention it on Twitter. They figured if that failed, they could easily go back to traditional advertising. Turns out they didn't need to. Within hours of the first tweet about the tour, they had sold out two shows at Radio City Music Hall (which holds over 6,000 people). The first day alone they sold 120,000 tickets. The entire tour sold out within a few days -- with no money spent on advertising.
[...] Just as quickly, O'Brien's team began to hear that NBC was far from happy. "The network isn't crazy about you tweeting. They're not sure that's cool," O'Brien recalls being told. His response was simple: "Tell them I would be thrilled if they shut down my Twitter account. I'd love it if that got out. You think PR's been bad up till now? Wait till you take away my Twitter account."
The other interesting bit -- that also shows a massive difference from NBC -- is how his team deals with online clips of his show. Rather than hoarding it, they get stuff online quickly and spread it widely:
Team Coco, not TBS, chooses which clips to use, edits them, and posts them. Preview clips from each night's taping go up an hour before the show's East Coast broadcast; within an hour after the show's West Coast broadcast more than a half-dozen clips from that night's show are posted on its site and Facebook, and linked to via Twitter; and the full show is viewable online the next day at 11 a.m. Eastern time. Last year at The Tonight Show Bleyaert had tried to get pre-show clips posted, but even that seemingly simple idea was difficult to execute because NBC.com ran the show's site, and putting up such clips wasn't part of its normal workflow process. "After the experience that we had at NBC, we wanted to be in control," says O'Brien's agent, Rosen. "We wanted the freedom to exploit our content."Part of the reason this works is the structure of the deal with TBS. Basically, TBS is just a distribution partner, rather than the owner of the show. O'Brien's company owns the show and has full creative control, and can control all of the digital experience. The video player they use is their own -- not one from TBS. The whole article is really quite fascinating and worth reading, as it shows how embracing social media and what fans want in a really strong way can pay back amazing dividends.
from the in-case-you-were-wondering dept
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jan 4th 2011 10:10pm
from the entirely-possible dept
Clive Thompson has now stepped into this debate (not directly naming Carr, but it certainly sounds like he's referencing him), suggesting that all this tweeting and texting has actually increased an appreciation for long form writing, though potentially decreased interest in middle form writing. His argument is anecdotal, so I'd really like to see some more data on it, but it does match at least some of what I've found. The crux of his argument is that people who just have a little bit to write now use things like Twitter to pass that along, rather than writing a short blog post, which are all almost always longer than your typical tweet. But, they do save up the "big ideas" and write much longer posts. And he notes that many bloggers have found that those longer, more in-depth posts, seem to get more attention.
To some extent, we've seen the same thing. While we still do have shorter "mid-form" posts, the posts on Techdirt are now a hell of a lot longer than they used to be a few years back, and the longer ones do seem to get more attention. For years, I ridiculously tried to keep to a rule that all Techdirt posts should fit within one paragraph. The idea was to keep them short and focused, but at times, when explaining deeper concepts, this got silly and made for exceptionally cramped blog posts (hello, wall of text). At some point I realized that was pointless, and switched to a style that went to what was appropriate. And it was about that time that Techdirt's traffic shot up and we actually started building a decent following. I can't say that there's direct cause-and-effect, but at least my experience seems to mesh with what Thompson suggests.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Dec 29th 2010 8:01am
from the one-to-one dept
However, there are certain moments when you realize just how powerful Twitter can be as a communication platform, and those tend to be cases when previously impenetrable walls are broken down. I've told the story in the past about how the first time I realized Twitter was powerful was during the Iowa Presidential caucuses in early 2008, when I started following a user who was aggregating tweets directly from within caucus rooms about what was happening in those rooms. What became fascinating to me was that the information that was coming out got me detailed (and extraordinarily accurate) information well before (as in hours) mainstream media had the results. In fact, in comparing the Twitter results with CNN's reporting, what became clear was that if you were watching Twitter you would have a much better understanding of what was happening in Iowa.
I'm getting a similar feeling after reading about Newark Mayor Cory Booker's use of Twitter in response to the big blizzard that hit the northeast this past weekend. He's been tweeting up a storm, as he travels around Newark helping to plow streets and dig out cars and help people in trouble. As you look down the thread, he's specifically responding to different people calling out for help -- either sending people to help or showing up himself, such as the case of the woman who was stuck in her home and needed diapers, which the mayor brought himself.
In another, somewhat epic, stream of tweets, one guy complained that he was stuck. Mayor Booker responded, asking for the guy's phone number, and shortly thereafter tweeted that he was there to help. At the same time, though, the original tweeter was complaining on Twitter with curses, and wondering if the mayor would really show up. In response, Mayor Booker called him out:
Wow u shud b ashamed of yourself. U tweet vulgarities & then I come out here to help & its ur mom & sis digging. Where r u?Eventually, the guy came out and apparently they talked and worked it out, with the mayor thanking him and the guy apologizing.
Now, I'm sure that there are cynical people out there who will mock all of this as just a publicity stunt. And, to some extent, it is a publicity stunt, but it's an incredibly effective one. Paying attention to his account, you realize that even if he knows he's getting attention for all of this, he really is using Twitter to find out where there are problems and responding quickly. Some will, of course, point out that all of this provides cover for the fact that the city didn't seem to do a good job plowing in the first place -- but the storm was not an ordinary storm. Also, a key characteristic of what makes a leader is how they respond when things go wrong, and this reaction is quite interesting.
But what's more telling to me, is how this is yet another case of barriers being broken down. Traditionally, folks who were stuck in certain areas of Newark might -- at best -- call some government agency where they'd probably get a run around. The likelihood of them actually being able to contact the mayor directly and have him respond and do something was nil.
The famous saying, of course, is that all politics is local, but this story shows how Mayor Booker took that to another level, and really opened a channel for direct communication in a time when it really mattered.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Dec 6th 2010 3:21pm
Twitter Not Blocking Wikileaks As A Trending Topic... But Won't Comment On Possibility Of Shutting Down Account
from the backbone? dept
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Dec 3rd 2010 2:27pm
Australian Newspaper Editor Threatens Defamation Suit Over Tweet Paraphrasing What Someone Else Said
from the following-the-bouncing-legal-threats dept
The details are somewhat convoluted, but the link above lays them out quite carefully. Basically, there was a journalism conference, and one of the panels was discussing how the media was covering "climate change" as a story. Apparently, the general sense among everyone involved was "that climate change is real, and crucially important, and inadequately reported." Wahlquist, on the panel, noted that one of the reasons why she had resigned was that she felt pressure in what she was writing on such topics. Posetti summarized that in a series of quick tweets. As is quite typical for those live tweeting an event, she paraphrased what was being said. I do this too. It's about the only practical way to post in real time and stick with the 140 character limit. It does appear that she may have, just slightly, misheard one thing that was said by Wahlquist, and implied that Mitchell had directly influenced what Wahlquist wrote about. From a recording that later came out, it appears that Wahlquist was a little less specific, stating: "The other thing that was happening at The Australian before I left was the editor-in-chief and the editors (were?) becoming much more prescriptive and you saw that in the lead-up to the election, where you were actually being told what to write."
Posetti simplified this to state:
"Wahlquist: 'In the lead up to the election the Ed in Chief was increasingly telling me what to write.' It was prescriptive."That's a pretty close paraphrase, but Mitchell took great exception to this (and two other tweets that really were more expressing opinions), and said that he never put pressure on Wahlquist. And here's where The Streisand Effect enters. Not too many people had seen Posetti's tweets -- or really paid too much attention to them. Until Mitchell went into the pages of his own newspaper and threatened to sue Posetti for defamation -- which was indeed followed up by a legal threat letter (pdf).
Suddenly, this off-handed paraphrase of a tweet got a lot more attention (reasonably so), especially when the editor of a major newspaper threatens to sue someone for defamation over a tweet paraphrasing what someone else said. Mitchell later claimed that Wahlquist claimed she had not said what Posetti had tweeted, but once the audio became clear, it seemed pretty clear that Posetti's tweets were pretty damn close -- and if there was that one tiny slip up, it's hardly worth a defamation lawsuit. And, really, if Mitchell has anyone to complain about, it's Wahlquist -- though, again, only if what she said was really inaccurate. Jonathan Holmes, of Austalia's ABC, summarizes the whole mess and suggests that Mitchell needs to calm down and realize that if Wahlquist said what she said, he should at least be realizing that some of his reporters felt that way, and strive to fix it, rather than threaten the messenger.
Looking back, it's really amazing how many mistakes were made here. There was overreacting to a tweet. Blaming the messenger. Calling way more attention to it than necessary. Actually carrying through with legal threats and then denying that any of the original statements of opinion could be valid. Oh, and we left out the bit where Mitchell's own paper has railed against Australian defamation law, saying that they "act to suppress free speech and enrich lawyers..." Oh, really now?
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Nov 23rd 2010 4:05pm
from the truth-in-advertising dept
While the US removed it to avoid diplomatic issues, apparently, people in Beijing who saw it, appreciated it:
Several residents said "crazy bad" was refreshingly frank, particularly given the reluctance of Chinese officials to disclose real-time pollution data or any measurements of ozone or PM2.5 particulate matter.Never underestimate how refreshing a bit of honesty can be coming out of political circles.
US embassy spokesman, Richard Buangan, said the "crazy bad" term was a mistake that has been corrected. "It was an inadvertent humorous moment," he said. "We thought it might blow up in our faces. But looking at the Twitter feed, we are seen as heroes."
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Nov 17th 2010 1:21pm
from the yeah,-that's-not-going-to-work dept
"PLEASE NOTE: President Clinton's representatives have mandated that there be absolutely no reporting during his session. That includes live blogging, Tweeting, Facebook posting or use of any other social media. We understand the inconvenience this may present, but greatly appreciate your compliance. Thank you."It's difficult to think of a request that is more out of touch with what is happening in the world today. It's quite normal for people to communicate via such social media methods and shutting them off entirely (which won't actually work) just seems petty.
Update: And... the inevitable backing down. Clinton's people now claim that it was all a misunderstanding, and they simply said that the speech would not be open to the press. They claim that the PR agency misinterpreted that to mean no live blogging, tweeting or Facebooking, but they're actually fine with it. Of course, again it makes you wonder why you have such a "no press" policy in the first place...