A few things I noted during the presentation have caused me to think more deeply about information evolution.
- A comment was made that hearkened to the days of doom-saying. (I am paraphrasing here.) “User generated content is threatening the value of journalists and journalism standards. Anyone remember about 10-12 years ago when the Internet was going to replace librarians and Information Professionals? This crowd got that journalists would need to position their knowledge as a value-added service – not every citizen journalist has the credentials and ability to write news that meet high standards required for litigation or mega-dollar mergers. There was a good discussion about the need to balance citizen journalism with proper editorial controls and clarifications. The sentiment was that sometimes, fast was good enough for now.
- One concern that came to my mind regarding user generated content was the continued explosion of information. What is the value and how can this truly be verified? Can user generated content be valuable and reliable for research?
- On the fun side, social media and user-generated content was touted as a new phenomenon. There were a few folks in the crowd who disavowed that assumption. I for one quite fondly remember the social column (written by a citizen, not a journalist) in my hometown newspaper that would occasionally mention my family members who visited from out-of-town, or even my name being in print when I was heading out-of-town to visit those same relatives. (Yeah news was hard to come by in my hometown but hey, as a kid, it was fun.)
- The other topic that I’m still struggling to get my head around is applications for Twitter to business. Twitter is fast – instantaneous even. Can you trust the fast unverified data to make a business decision? If you follow me on Twitter you won’t get much useful data at this point but if you follow Jason Falls, it might be a different matter. This topic is getting a lot of press lately and I’ll be paying more attention to Twitter in coming weeks as I begin to make my own determinations of its value. I think the big point I have missed thus far about Twitter is choosing the right folks to follow – I still think I need to know people to participate in this on-line permitted voyeurism. The truth is that if you are going to use Twitter for something other than voyeuristic pleasure, you need to target the right folks. Think about the impact this could have on CI research, if you are following the right competitors it certainly makes the old adage keep your enemies closer that much more powerful – or at least it has the potential. And it seems that following strangers is easy — I’ve refused requests from people I have never met.