Insomnia and Productivity

2 Oct

Some homepage doodling from a while back by the lovely Ms. Alford –

And our very first wireframe by Min. Presenting Wireframe 1.0 –

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Online Galaxy – 4 Answers to the Ultimate Question of Online Life, the Online Universe, and Everything Online

15 Sep

By Min

From Mashable.com (my new breakfast-reading) –

Neal Rodriguez tells us 4 simple ways to ensure our site’s much-deserved virality.

1. Pictures

2. Opinion

3. Infographics

4. Re-Written Headlines

..Too easy!

A teaser…

15 Sep

By Phoebe

I interviewed Alex Hart today who is a political reporter for Network Seven and kept track of social media on the election night. He did live crosses every half hour or so the entire night and is great talent for providing insight into his experience with social media both on election night and during the campaign. Here’s how the interview went…

I am “interviewing” you for a feature I’m writing on the integration of social media into the mainstream media (particular emphasis on politics) and the role it played throughout the election campaign.

As the Twitter-boy and face of social media on the night, you are my talent from the perspective of the mainstream media.

ELECTION NIGHT

1. What was the reasoning behind Seven’s inclusion of online social media on such an historical night?
2. Was there much participation from the public?
3. Did it garner the desired response?
4. What were some or the more interesting Tweets you stumbled across?
5. Do you think the public was grateful for the opportunity to interact and participate with the coverage?
6. In hindsight, would the network choose to place the same amount of emphasis on social media on election night again?

CAMPAIGN

1. From the perspective of a reporter on the road, did social media play a more significant role in this election campaign? (eg. pollies and reporters with twitter accounts and Facebook pages).
2. In terms of the election campaign as a whole and being on the road, what was the significance of having your own Twitter page? What did you use it for? Is it useful for keeping track of people and happenings in the crazy world of politics?
3. Do you think that social media (Facebook, Twitter) has changed or altered the way in which politics (with emphasis on the election campaign) is reported today? Mainly in terms of the pace?
4. Is breaking stories becoming increasingly difficult?

You’ll have to stay tuned for Alex’s answers when our website is up and running!

Follow Alex on Twitter.

Here one day, gone the next… was it all just a trend?

11 Sep

By Min

Australia’s political standstill has finally come to an end. Three weeks after the election, Facebookers and Tweeters across the nation herald in our newest ginger addition to the parliamentary family.


I have been debating different ways to approach this broad issue of social media and politics, for quite some time now. Having created and abandoned probably three or four ideas now – with time being upon us, I have finally managed to press one out.

What I found extremely interesting was the difficulty I had pinning down a single idea related to social media/politics, and being able to stick with it before it became irrelevant.

It seems every idea I came up with had a very limited lifespan. There one day, gone the next. Trending now, not so trendy later…

Let’s take a look at Australian twitter trends, pre- and post-election –

The day before election: political hashtags galore –

And then, just weeks later –

Not so long ago, politicial issues were all the rage on these social media sites. And then, as quickly as it began, we saw a dramatic drop in interest and relevancy. So this begs the question – is this the imminently morbid reality of social media and politics? Will it amount to anything more than just a superficial political glaze?

Certainly a yummy, colourful and appetising addition on the political doughnut – but it seems to me that social media just doesn’t have the dough or the nuts that traditional mainstream media offiers – to continue the discussion of national issues as important as politics, long after it is no longer ‘trendy.’

For this reason, I believe the previous panic about the eventual redundancy of traditional media is no longer at issue. Whilst traditional media is often associated with “serious” issues (and I think they have lived up to this image quite well) – new media covers those which are not-so-serious. However, the two have since developed a rather unique relationship:

Think of a traditional media trend as a large, slow moving ball – one which picks up media issues selectively, as it rolls slowly through them. It can hold many at the same time, picking up as it goes along, and slowly dispersing as they become outdated. Such are the dynamics of traditional media – providing continuous coverage of a series of issues, keeping it within its media cycle for some time before moving onto something else.

Social media, on the other hand, can be seen as a sleek fast moving pin-ball, shooting through issues quickly and rapidly, picking up only one or two at a time. When an issue does latch on, its impact is so sudden and viralistic – there is seemingly no rhyme or reason as to why it developed into a trend in the first place (think Numa Numa dance). The social media pin-ball whizzes through the internet community rapidly and easily, representing and making things viral, one trend at a time.

Does this mean social media is more superficial than traditional media? Yes, there is no doubt about it. But is it less meaningful?

Certainly not.

The nature of social media means that it can potentially make viral any issue – serious, non-serious, Numa Numa dance or Barack Obama. Nic Newman’s study of social media and the UK elections indicate channels such as Facebook and Twitter – though “superficial” – have in fact successfully engaged the younger demographics, with record-breaking levels of participation (voting turnout of 18- to 24-year-olds increased by 7%, above the national average of 5%).

To me, this means that when social and traditional media intersect – which they often do – issues such as politics have a far greater (and younger) audience than ever before. I do not think the superficiality of social media coverage is quite as devastating as some believe. If you compare what was before (more incognizance, less awareness) to what is now (more awareness – albeit superficial) – I would argue we are far better off in the latter situation, in terms of overall democracy and citizen well-being.

Clearly, we have much to learn of this intricate relationship, as Newman believes new media is still “yet to come of age.” So far, social media patterns have been almost impossible to predict – forever changing, diverging, appropriating – what will be interesting (and equally challenging) is to be able to successfully pinpoint investigative issues, that will not suddenly become untrendy and lose relevance, as is so characteristic of the volatile unpredictability of social media.

Ready… On your marks…

9 Sep

By Nadia

Our ideas are down. We have liaised with interviewees. Our website is in the works. And on top of it we have a site name with a clever little pun, making me one very happy Project Manager.

As a group, we’re all in very high spirits as our idea has only become bigger and more relevant since its inception. It seems the election has not slipped from the Australian news media’s radar with the result of a hung Parliament letting the drama draw out for weeks like a bad soap opera or reality TV show.

Luckily two days ago a decision was reached…eventually. The lead up in Rob Oakshott’s speech before he announced his preferred political party kept us anxious viewers clench-fisted and guessing like an episode of The Bachelor (video below) to hear who would be eliminated and who would scrape through to the next round of trials, tears and steamy sex scandals. Finally independent candidate Oakshott announced he would side with Labor. Exhale.

And Twitter, among other social media sites, was going off. This was where all the real action was happening during the two independents’ dry and drawn-out speeches. Kevin Rudd’s wife Therese Rein was posting things throughout the speech like: “Aaaaarghhh!!!!” and “And….?????” and newsmakers and journalists everywhere were not shy with their own personal views.

The Australian reported yesterday that ABC head Mark Scott actually changed the strategy for ABC journalists reporting on the Federal Election because of a post by an anonymous Tweeter (@GrogsGamut). He suggested that Australian journalists were not doing their job and reporting properly on the election by failing to ask questions of the leaders “which might actually reveal who would be the better leader of this country”.

Mark Scott re-Tweeted in agreement: “Yep. Interesting.” He even said in a speech that the comments had been used in an ABC executive meeting to inform decision-making. The Australian journalist James Massola wrote about the issue, praising the medium which allowed the debate over the issues to happen: “Such a public conversation about journalism was unimaginable five years ago. If for no other reason, the incident demonstrated why Twitter, and blogs, matter”.

Indeed, in a recent speech, Mark Scott said:
“The contributions of bloggers – the constant feedback and commentary of thousands though the #ausvotes stream on Twitter – were watched and considered by every mainstream media editor…And we could see – the impact made by some bloggers was every bit as great as that made by other mainstream professional journalists.”

Us here at Look Who’s Talking Now find this very, very interesting.

And now here’s what we’ve been up to lately:

Our group meeting yesterday saw us reconfigure and shuffle around our feature article ideas a bit. For example, our proposed feature article 9 ‘Social Media Fails’ we now think would work better as a more light-hearted ‘fun’ page with lots of visuals and exterior links, rather than a serious, mainly textual article. (You can check out our proposed site map here)

In relation to our medium within the news.com.au platform, we’re continuing to define our target audience clearly through more research. Users of news.com.au are very news- and online media-savvy. Research conducted by themselves found that:
“News Digital Media’s audience spends twice as long online as the average Australian – 28 hours each week verses 14 hours. They are more comfortable in the online environment and use the internet more than any other medium.”

This means our pages will need less explanatory material and can really focus on the issues that we want to investigate.

We referred to one quotation by Vaidhyanathan in our pitch to the class, and I’d like to share another one here which I find particularly interesting:

“Technologies tend to generate or fix values that already flow through some part of a culture, even if they have not reached critical mass…their very presence alters our environment, our worldview.”
(See his book on page 19)

I’m interested in what values may be generated or fixed through the social mediums we are investigating in our features. Does Twitter perpetuate the desire for instant gratification that our present society is often accused of being plagued with? How do the values of these social mediums affect its use in politics? Whilst this question is not at the centre of our feature articles, I would like to incorporate elements into the feature article I will be working on about ‘slactivism’ and the democratic capabilities of social media.

It’s all happening over here in social media land and we’re getting very excited for our shiny new website.

Keep following us on Twitter and Facebook for updates on Australian politics, social media and our website progress – and don’t forget to let us know what you think!

Over and out

Nadia.

Post-pitch ponder

2 Sep

By Phoebe

The process of creating a pitch that we had to publicly sell and be proud of was invaluable in terms of cementing the framework and the realities of our idea. With an idea so broad, vast and potentially dry: politics and social media… we’ve had to really think of ways for the medium to make the information we are presenting shine and captivate our users’ attentions. In addition to this important factor we have also had to create some much needed boundaries on our flow of ideas to make sure that it remains do-able and does not become overwhelming.

On Monday morning we pitched our idea to the class and showcased our beloved facebook page – what we consider ‘the new-age handout’. It’s easy to navigate, colourful, accessible, easy on the environment and most importantly interactive, meaning we can keep updating and building our ideas (along with our blog of course) and our peers and friends can make contributions and provide us with feedback at the click of a send button- avoiding the awkward face-to-face interaction that comes with receiving negative comments- not and odd occurrence in politics however!

The feedback our pitch received shed new light from within our idea and allowed us to gain an even deeper understanding of what is newsworthy, relevant and above all captivating to our users. What we had considered a mere example or addition to our site has now moved to the forefront of our minds and has become the hook for our site i.e. what will draw people in and make them click and keep on clicking with the realms we have created for them. The thing that was highlighted for us was the fascination people had with the goings-on on Election Night from within the Tally Room and how the coverage actually took form in terms of what was included in it.

This link will explore in depth the relationship that the mainstream media and online social media shared that fateful night of August 21, 2010.

As I was lucky enough to be working that night with Network Seven, I was able to gain an insider’s perspective as well as be a part of the atmosphere of the evening. Seven had decided to place particular emphasis on the movements of online social media for their coverage. On the elaborate set they had designed just for that night, in the Tally Room, Seven included 5 computers accompanied by their own personal human trackers who stayed glued to the screens following Twitter conversations, Facebook posts and election forums that had been set up and advertised specifically for the night. In the spirit of anonymity, the online trackers remained appropriately faceless while they monitored the monitors scanning for interesting comments, questions, remarks, opinions, experiences by voters and anecdotes all contributed by people at home therefore allowing them to ultimately take part in the coverage. There were continual live crosses to Seven political reporter, Alex Hart, who was following the trackers’ findings on the night. He provided insight and plucked his favourite posts from the sites. At one point Hart crossed back to the presenters in response to a Tweet pleading for an explanation of the term ‘hung parliament’ that was being so freely thrown around by the political commentators at the expense of the mere mortals at home. The coverage was paused briefly to acknowledge the request.

Is this paving the way for interactive television? Or interactive news? Is this new found ability to contribute, more democratic?

For an investigative piece, we will be interviewing reporter Alex Hart from the perspective of the mainstream media in the hopes of gaining an insight into the reasoning behind their inclusion of online social media on such an historical night. Was it significant? Did it garner the desired response? What were the most interesting Tweets he stumbled across? Was it well received? Why did the Network decided to place such emphasis on online social media on such an intensely competitive night amongst the networks?

Also, he will be great talent to perhaps transcribe an interview of his experience out on the road on the election campaign in terms of tweeting- as he has his own tweet page that we can follow here. Jodie Speers is another political reporter with her own tweet page and on the road experiences that we are able to interview. We can delve into them tweeters as well as reporters. Why they feels the need to contribute their thoughts/experiences? How do they use the medium? Is it a useful source for keeping track of all the crazy movements in politics? Has online social media changed the way politics (with particular emphasis on election campaign) is reported today, mainly the pace? Are story breaks increasingly difficult? Etc

Stay Tuned.

Some sites to check out:

http://au.news.yahoo.com/election

http://www.facebook.com/vote7news

Our Facebook Page

30 Aug

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