Making sense of our streams, in real time

How do we make sense of the streams of information on social networks? It’s easy to get overwhelmed and difficult to tell a good story about what happens on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. I’m a strong believer in virtual worlds as islands in those streams, where we can gather, and make time for thoughtful discussions. But even then we could make good use of tools to tell stories about what happens ‘out there’.

Josh Stearns on Groundswell has a great post about The New Curators: Weaving Stories from the Social Web.

Josh discusses Slices of Boulder, which seeks to aggregate and curate local information streams. The project is a collaboration between the Digital Media Test Kitchen at the University of Boulder and Eqentia.

Another tool, or rather a platform, is Swift River, built by the folks behind Ushahidi. It was designed with crisis situations in mind. The developers describe it as a “platform that helps people make sense of a lot of information in a short amount of time.” On their blog they try to clarify the concept as being an open source Yahoo Pipes for any SMS, Twitter, Email, and JSON/ATOM/XML/RSS feed, soon video and audio as well.

Storify finally is as Josh explains “based on two panes: 1) Navigating various content feeds (i.e. a Twitter search, a Facebook stream, as well as content from YouTube, Flickr and more) and 2) A blank stream where you can drag and drop elements from those streams to build your story.” It is simple, but compelling.

Storify demo from Burt Herman on Vimeo.

To be honest, Storify is the only tool mentioned here I actually experimented with (I’ll try the others out as well). Have a look at my post about Second Life in a browser and two stories on my financial blog (the blogposts are in Dutch, the tweets in English): one post about the US GDP report of last Friday and another one about Nouriel Roubini being pessimistic about the growth prospects (a social media discussion in which he does not hesitate to call a participant “an idiot”).

Storify (find an invite code at TechCrunch) actually helps you to discover stories.  It makes it easy to combine social media streams, and by doing that you stumble upon unexpected stuff (such as the angry outbursts of Roubini) and you can make that discovery process visible.

On Zombie Journalism Mandy Jenkins explains ten ways journalists (and bloggers of course) can use Storify: gathering reactions on breaking news, combining past content with newer information and social streams, showing your own quests on Twitter, Facebook etc, or organizing your own live tweets from a conference.

Robin Good is following up the fast expanding universe of real time curation tools on his blog. He also prepared a mindmap about all this:

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0 Responses to Making sense of our streams, in real time

  1. well, here’s the thing.

    I have email. I have RSS. I have blogs, such as yours, where I can read cohesive and unfragmented thoughts when I wish. What I love about them is that I can do things uninterrupted. When I have time, I can look at them.

    Allegedly, Twitter is supposed to be the same thing, but on the site it says…:

    “With Twitter, you can stay hyper–connected to your friends and always know what they’re doing.”

    Don’t want. Even if I can, as it says, stop it at any time. Well, heck – I can do that right now with asynchronous communications. If I want, I can set up SMS->email; Email->SMS, etc. But – Don’t Want.

    My time in the day is better used for other things. I don’t need to know what people are doing at every second. I don’t *want* to know what people are doing every second. And based on the ‘twitterings’ I’ve come across, they’re about as fragmented as a FAT 16 Hard drive.

    I look at it like this: I have 24 hours in the day. Twittering doesn’t get me paid. Twittering doesn’t get me laid. Twittering doesn’t do anything for me but buy into a faster culture that isn’t necessarily better – at least for me. What is funny is that I do SMS, but I only SMS when there is a need. Not to broadcast to the planet about what I just had for lunch, or name dropping. I’d rather go read a book.

    Now you like twitter – that’s fine, I respect that. And other people like it too. That’s fine. I respect that. I don’t. Please respect that – that’s all I’m saying. I’m not disadvantaged because I don’t want to try every little new technology under the sun – heck, I’ve been known to push the envelope with such technologies, even gaining press in doing so. But I find no function in it that is useful to me.

    Twitter is simply not useful for me. And for that matter, 80% of the people on the planet have no use for it because they ain’t even online.

  2. admin says:

    Sure. I have no problem with that. There are lots of other cool nice social services online I don’t use either.

    For some journalists, in some circumstances, Twitter could be useful. So they should know it exists and what the possibilities are.

    It is up to them to judge whether in their case, it makes sense or not, whether it is fun or not. That is diversity.

    Maybe I did not make this clear enough, but I do agree wih Koster and Prokofy that all too often digerati suppose the whole world is involved in Twitter, Hyves, virtual worlds etc. This is not the case of course. We can dream that one day everyone will have the opportunity to use these things, but opportunity does not mean people have a kind of moral obligation to actually use these possibilities.

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