Feb 14, 2011

Gluttony and Other Things I Learned About During Social Media Week

Written while flying back to Dallas after Social Media Week New York City 2011.

Earlier today I was telling some friends over lunch that my memory is not what it used to be. I’ve actually worried about it quite a bit lately, wondering if my mind is going old much faster than it should. I even purchased special vitamins said to enhance memory, and perhaps if I remembered to take them they might actually work.

But at one of the Social Media Week NYC sessions I attended this week, someone said that research has shown that consuming large amounts of information daily will cause your mind to have trouble remembering things and processing information.

All that rich data my friends and follows have been sharing on Facebook and Twitter have turned me into an out of control data glutton.

Not quite the kind of thing I expected to learn during this week’s social media lectures and panels, but indeed it has turned out to be one of the most comforting.

So here I sit on a flight back to Dallas, my mind feeling a bit bloated with facts and data gathered and I’ve decided to brave the heavy turbulence to share what has resonated with me most before I forget it.

  • Twitter has become a significant tool for journalists who are using it in a variety of ways:  for doing research and finding information, for creating lists to follow certain feeds by category, for finding experts, and as a replacement for RSS readers.
  • Search is headed in a direction that gives much more weight to content that is ‘shared’ or ‘liked,’ furthering democratization of content curation.
  • Publishers are concentrating on creating experiences for their audiences. The Daily recently launched with much ado about the experience, but as it turned out the experience seemed less exciting without solid content behind it.
  • Mashable gets more engagement with their content on their iPad app than on their website. – Adam Ostrow
  • The Huffington Post needs the paid contributors they are now hiring, but it would never have grown to what it has if not for the non-paid bloggers it has depended on in the past. – Jay Rosen
  • Something that will never change in successful publishing and PR is the need for story telling.

So now as my flight is approaching landing time and I have given the flight attendant all my trash, I consider what it is about the bits of information above that have caused them to stand out so in my mind. The direction of publishing of course is the main pattern here that seems to concern me.

But there’s something else.

I find myself questioning whether we are headed in a direction that moves us away from putting quality of information first. Is all this concentration on technology, ‘experience,’ and engagement with content leading us to telling likable stories, but not necessarily worthy stories?

A friend told me recently that he has completely stopped reading news sites or print newspapers.  Instead he trusts that any news worth knowing about will find him through his social connections. This is a successful businessman. He said it has greatly reduced the plethora of information he was previously consuming, and he doesn’t miss it.

Will this affect his ability to make good business and personal decisions, I wondered.

And what about this ‘experience’ many publishers are working so hard on for us? I raised my hand at the end of the Publishers as Technologists panel and asked if we are perhaps headed in a wrong direction in thinking that giving people an ‘experience’ with our content is truly what they want or need. I myself don’t have time for ‘experience’ everyday. I want the information I need in the simplest and easiest to consume fashion possible. But don’t get me wrong, on a Saturday morning I am found in my reading chair enjoying a good experience with my favorite iPad news apps.

Of course I may be worried for nothing. I do tend to wring my hands together more than is truly needed. This is probably due to the fact that I can’t remember why I shouldn’t worry. <Note to self: take magic memory vitamin when I get home.>

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you, or would you trust your friends and follows to provide you with content you need? And do you like your content with a good side of ‘experience?’

Post authored and image created by Victoria Harres, director, audience development, PR Newswire.

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