Dave thinks we should have a programmable Twitter client, so that users can “teach” Twitter to do things the users want it to do.
Jay: “I’d love to teach Twitter to do things I want it to do.”
Dave: “They may be so particular to you that no developer is going to do them.” And that’s why we need a programmable Twitter. “The developers of the clients are as much in the way as Twitter, Inc. is….”
Uses of RT button
Jay finally found a use for the Re-tweet function.
Dave: “What I love about the way re-tweet works is that… it absolves me of the feeling that I have to say something. There’s poetry that goes with that.”
The demonic Demand Media
Jay: Years ago Doc Searls warned us about the word content. Now I’m starting to see what he meant. Witness this company: Demand Media, basically an algorithmic spam content business that targets not our in-boxes but the web itself.
What Demand has realized is that the Internet gets only half of the simplest economic formula right: It has the supply part down but ignores demand…
Pieces are not dreamed up by trained editors nor commissioned based on submitted questions. Instead they are assigned by an algorithm, which mines nearly a terabyte of search data, Internet traffic patterns, and keyword rates to determine what users want to know and how much advertisers will pay to appear next to the answers.
And now AOL is moving to something similar.
Jay: “I think part of the re-booted system of news would be to build a tool for editors and journalists that would give us really good information about what people are interested in now… and begin to produce high quality work ‘into’ that demand.”
In newsrooms there is a familiar and exhausted debate between: give people what they’re interested in vs. give them what they need to know. But neither of those views gets it done in the rebooted system of news.
Dave: “This Demand Media thing may just be a transition… It’s a fluid situation.” Because advertising itself may go away. “In a way an ad is a query… They try to guess as to what I’m interested in. And the better they guess, the more it becomes information.”
The backstory: Frontline on credit cards and debit cards
Dave: The Card Game is an eye opener from Frontline explaining how people get screwed with credit and debit cards. “These are things people need to know.”
Jay: Credits cards are “familiar everyday objects but the system that lies behind those cards is very opaque to us. That is where professional journalists need to apply themselves.”
BitTorrent and PBS
Dave: The most popular BitTorrent (file sharing) indexing site, mininova, basically shut down this week. Now why wouldn’t PBS fill that vacuum and just declare all its stuff legally available for file-sharing?
Jay: Nothing prevents them from doing it except lack of vision. They need to break out.
Dave: “NPR did it.” They helped podcasting break out. “This is the moment of opportunity” for PBS to do the same.
Jay: “They should say we are going to go all-in on the open systems.”
Studio 20 and the geeks
Jay: Programmers and participants in the geek culture at NYU are starting to come ’round and ask about my new graduate program in journalism, Studio 20, which is good because we need them.
Dave: “Well, technology is about what’s new and so is news.”
Here’s the MP3 for Rebooting the News #35: