Culture Life Media Musings

On Twitter as a news source.

Twitter fills an interesting niche in the world of online social networking. On Twitter, individuals micro-blog in 140 character bursts, and their readers only follow the people they choose to in their own customized “feed”.

Given how easy it is to post a message on Twitter and have it be broadcast almost instantly to one’s followers, Twitter becomes a medium of content delivery that is both faster than e-mail and wider reaching than an instant message conversation. Numerous people have taken advantage of the power of Twitter; Barack Obama announced his running-mate over Twitter, for one, and thousands of people followed and identified with the daily goings-on of the Mars Phoenix Rover via an employee at JPL posting on its behalf. Twitter has been used to humanize large corporations, give a heads-up to deal-seekers, and reiterate a company’s commitment to being interactive with its users. Even news organizations have taken to twitter, from new start-ups to well established members of traditional media.


This way Twitter is being used in this last instance is both promising and potentially scary. Here’s why.


It’s wonderful to receive news as it happens. Twitter allows for news to be relayed faster than traditional media outlets are able to report. For example, a few weeks ago I heard about a plane crash on Twitter five to ten minutes before it hit the news. Twitter allow the “person on the ground” to be heard by those around the world in record time.

This is a great, great tool for citizen journalism. The problems manifest when you tradeoff speed for reliability. It’s easy for rumors and misinformation to be spread around the internet, anyway, and by providing the means for anyone to become a reporter, the standards of journalism and reporting that traditional news outlets are held to are not enforced. The pressure to “get it out first” sure doesn’t help, either. 

Last week, I received an Amber Alert via Twitter.  While Twitter is a good medium to transmit Amber Alerts, this one turned out to be a hoax.  Just yesterday, my friend Mark made this tweet:

trappermark Twitter news conflict: @cnnbrk telling me 9 dead in Turkish Air crash. At same time, @nytimes says just 20 hurt.

So not all reporting can be trusted, that’s a given.  As long as people fact-check and confirm the things they hear, there’s no problem with being presented with conflicting information.  Unfortunately, my experience tells me that most people do take what they hear at face value.  Maybe regular users of the internet are different, I don’t know.  Being able to quickly sort out fact from fiction is essential to using the web effectively as a research tool.  As the web extends deeper into every facet of our daily lives, this skill becomes more and more important in shaping how we see the world around us.

I say, bring on the citizen journalism.  Let’s just make sure we do it (and read it) responsibly.

[!] Life

A Simple Explanation of the Credit Crisis.

Reading through my feeds this morning, I came across an excellent post from the My Money Blog, linking to an informative video explaining exactly what is happening to cause the credit crisis we’re now facing.

Some of you might already know this stuff, but the video breaks everything down so that it’s easy to understand. It’s worth a look.  Check it out below.

[Edit: Apparently, there’s a part 2, as well.  I’m sticking it below.]

Faith Life Reading

Sacred Space.

Life Musings

Rain, Peace, and Quiet.

I woke up this morning to freezing rain, leading in turn to snow and then rain again later this afternoon.

Apparently, Charlottesville-area schools are on delay again, which is sort of amusing; it’s still just rain for now.

I got in to work a few minutes ago, and I’m the only person in today, it seems; everyone else is either ona business trip or taking care of things in the Northern Virginia office. At least I have some time to breathe, think, and wrap my head around a few projects at work without any distractions.

I often lament not having more times like these when I can focus on one thing and do it well, but on the other hand I’m constantly trying to cram more and more things into my day, distracting myself with any number of things. I bet that with a bit more self-discipline, these moments don’t have to be so out-of-the-ordinary. 🙂

Life Musings

Hints of Spring

It’s been an interesting weekend for me; for the first time since we’ve been married, I haven’t really seen Mika for about three days. Between her work schedule, going to see a wrestling match Friday evening at John Paul Jones Arena with Mike and Justin (awesome) and going skiing at Massanutten on Saturday, I won’t really get the chance to be with her until tonight.

I know that 3 days doesn’t seem like a long time, but this is different for me. The first year that Mika and I started dating, I was part of a fellowship program called the Trinity Fellows Program out of my church here in Charlottesville, Trinity Presbyterian. Just about every hour of every week was scheduled and planned out, and I was living with a wonderful family out in Crozet, 25 miles outside of Charlottesville. Suffice to say, during that year I didn’t see Mika all that much. We would get an hour here and there at night before I drove back to Crozet, but I would sometimes go 4-5 days without really seeing her.

And that was ok.

I didn’t like it, but I simply looked forward to when I would get to see her. I still do, of course, but now that we’ve been married for a little more than four months, I’ve noticed a change in myself, a greater attachment. I mean, she’s my wife.  Things just feel different.  I see her almost every day now, but I feel like I need that.  From the moment we took our vows, I’ve never spent as much time with one person as I have with Mika, and I guess it becomes the norm.  It’s a great thing; I love it.  It just makes it that much harder when that person is gone.

It’s a gorgeous day.  At 8:45 AM, it feels like it’s in the upper 50’s outside.  I didn’t get a chance to take advantage of the weather yesterday, so I’m hoping to today; get outside, work out, take some pictures, and enjoy these hints of spring.

And tonight I’ll have something wonderful to come home to.