A couple of experiments which look at the future of the media have worked their way through my own personal news filtration system, one looks at how journalists source news and the other is an individual PR chap who is avoiding newspapers. Both are interesting and flawed in their own ways.
For five days, five journalists from five different countries will be holed up in a French farmhouse and will only be able to access Twitter and FaceBook to source news. Although if there is a link to another site linked in a tweet or on FaceBook they will be able to access it. Personally I think that all this will do is mean that they will use almost the same sources that they do now but it will take them one extra click to get to it. Admittedly it is possible that as they are forced not to use their usual sources that they will discover stuff that perhaps they wouldn’t have usually but I guess we have to wait and see.
What would strengthen this is if each of the five participating journalists had a counterpart that shared a similar brief but could access any source they wished, a control group if you will. It would provide an excellent comparison in terms of content and quality, actually it could provide a very telling comparison.
The second experiment is one London PR chap’s attempt to not buy any print media for an entire year. A self-confessed lover of print, Adam Vincenzini, will be satisfying all his news and media related needs with purely digital formats. I feel the flaw with this particular experiment is that only the format is being switched. We know that almost every knowledge requirement can be sated by a digital perspective and yet newspapers do continue have large, if falling, readerships. In the write-up of his first week, Vincenzini states:
I’ll start with the most surprising (and shocking) thing I noticed: I miss print ads. Seriously.
I didn’t realise until this week how much / how important print advertising is in delivering valuable information.
Movie release dates, flight deals, new product launches…I wasn’t ‘forced’ to consume these messages so I didn’t…and as a result, I didn’t obtain them from anywhere else.
Which I think may be the second flaw, it can be too easy to restrict what you read when you limit yourself to online. Through Twitter and FaceBook we select the people we’d like to receive information from. RSS feeds do the same.
It’s going to be interesting to see the results from both of these approaches but I think all that will be proved in the end is that Tthe social graph is not just a network system, it’s a filtration system too.