Rebooting the News #20

In Podcast on August 10, 2009 by Dave Winer

Podcast recorded at 9AM Pacific on 8/10/09. Show notes by Jay.

The denial-of-service attack on Twitter

How much of that centralization of Twitter do we really need and what part is arbitrary?

Dave: When the system fails it’s like the lights go on in the theater. The suspension of disbelief drops away.

Narrate your work

Dave’s post of that title happened when he came late to a story: the helicopter crash in the Hudson. This led to comparing the unfiltered chatter on Twitter to this stream, which collects the posts of New York Times journalists on Twitter. “We have an A/B comparison”– what the people on Twitter do and what news professionals do.

When they let us listen to them piece together a breaking story, we suddenly get the difference between pros and ordinary users.

Dave: “Narrate your work” is how Scoble started at Microsoft. Channel 9 was interviews with Microsoft developers about what they were doing and thinking when they built what they built.

What will Twitter resolve into?

Cody Brown’s insightful post MySpace is to Facebook as Twitter is to ______ gets interpreted by Dave and Jay.

Dave: “I think we will end up with about five Twitters.”

We need Fort Knox and open source

Jay: Among pro journalists there’s an almost universal reaction to “you should be more open about your reporting process, there are benefits to that…” For many stories being open about the story would mean losing it to competitors or adversaries. It just would not work.

Instead of fighting that reaction we should realize: Some forms of news cannot develop except in the darkroom; others benefit by developing in a more open way. The rebooted system of news has to be very good at both: accepting confidential information and sharing, declaring, giving credit as the news is made.

Dave: “if you don’t share what you’re doing you don’t get the benefits of participation.”

Suppose revision history were adapted to news narrative

Maybe that would help us figure out how to offer users both the back story (the narrative) and the news story (the updates.)

Example: the ongoing story of the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, which is tracked by this blog, Atlantic Yard Report and of course by the news media. Over the years that narrative has undergone many revisions. How do we show them?


The demise of url shortner, the absurdity of the url shortener problem, and the struggle for your work to survive on the Web. What will happen to all those url’s?

Dave: Eventually, will fail, eventually will fail too. This is an on going problem and it is not new. What we need is drop the url from the 140 box and attach it to the message as data. “That’s the best solution.”

Mouthpiece Theater wasn’t conducted like an experiment

Jay: Mouthpiece Theater is dead. But some said: It’s good that they were willing to experiment.

No. In the kind of experiment we need, you explain carefully you’re trying to do. You consult best practice. You listen to feedback. There are metrics. You show your work. Others can try their versions. This was a wrong turn and it showed none of that.

The answer is over there… somewhere. Best I can do!

A word from Jay to our younger listeners on “saving journalism.” I knew a while ago that we would have to figure out how journalism can thrive in a transformed world. But I also realized that I don’t know how to do that. The answer will have to come from others joining the puzzle. So I’m trying to point you to the right problems and share how I think– on Twitter, and in these podcasts with Dave.

The “where I’m coming come…” part of the news system

Jay: If transparency is the primary trust engine in the rebooted system then we need to adapt the notion of the by-line so that it shows who the author is and where that author is coming from. How? Don’t know. Let’s work on it.

Dave: Yes, let’s work on it. We’re part of so many different communities, the “where I’m coming from” has to be able to reflect them all. What we have now is quite deficient on the “where” part.

Source of inspiration: Jay’s but it could have been Dave’s too. Richard Stallman, the founder of the free software movement.

reboot09Aug10.mp3 (audio/mpeg, 10.4MB)
Monday, August 10, 2009.

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