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[reboot] Dave Winer on the future of journalism

Dave Winer says he’s going to be our discussion facilitator.

NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.

He begins with the story of BloggerCon, the first US blogging conference, in 2004. They invited the political bloggers, but the conference cost $595 [or 494 — sorry, missed it], so Dave added a second day that would be free. He asked himself what blog would do about it. So, he tried to get good discussion leaders who would act like a reporter who’s developing a story from the sources in the room. He tells us he’s going to run this session at Reboot that way.

Audience: Sometimes it’s good to listen to an expert. And if you don’t have a strong facilitator, things can get hijacked.

Dave: Yes, it depends on the quality of the facilitator. Some got it, some didn’t. Jeff Jarvis, who was a former reporter, completely got it. I get goosebumps thinking about it.

Audience: The media are part of the mess.

Dave: A big part of it. [I can see this is going to be difficult to live blog!]

Aud: But people can put lies up on the Net. Everyone has their own spin.Now we don’t know who to trust. How do we know what to trust?

Dave: It’s hard to find anybody you can trust. You have to develop your own sense of triangulation, i.e., what happened at the intersection of various opinions.

Euan Semple: Each of us has different leverage, and we have to be aware of that.

Dave: Yes. For example, I have more leverage in this room because my mic is always on. In fact, I want to use that leverage to ask a different question. I think Twitter is a dress rehearsal for the news system of the future. Yes? And what would you like from Twitter?

Matthias: I follow you, and you ignore the 140 character limit. I’m not complaining. But 140 chars aren’t enough for much of journalism.

Dave: I’d like Dave to have a time-expired unfollow: Unfollow but automatically refollow after 24 hrs.

Aud: With Jaiku, we could follow a discussion because they had threaded conversations. And wrt news: At the 140 conf in NYC, it was fascinating watching Al Jezeera using Twitter to get stories out of the West Bank. They were twittering from riots and attacks, and collecting them on a page on their site. On the other hand, it can be a source of misinformation.

Bruce Sterling: I’d like to read some tweets. (He reads spambot tweets using the hashtag .) It seems to be a natural progression. If twitter is the future of media, it’s got enough spam to beat humans into a bloody pulp.

Aud: As The Victorian Internet made clear, media are always spammed.

Dave: And how do you keep the garbage out of Wikipedia?

Aud: I read the article that said that tech has always been instrumental to journalism. E.g., the journalist pyramid was due to the telegraph: You had to put the most important stuff first in case you lost the connection.

Dave: What do you do when you’re following someone who says something you don’t like?

Aud: During the latest Israeli-Palestinian conflict I didn’t unfollow people with extreme opinions I disagree with.

Dave: I like extreme opinions that are respectfully stated because they often get me to think. I have strong opinions on that conflict, but when I stated them, some people unfollowed me and cut me off. That’s up to them, but I don’t cut them off.

Dave: By the way, if you’re moderating a session like this, the moderator needs to be strong.

Aud: Twitter needs a better reputation system.

Dave: Right now the reputation system is merely the number of followers.

Aud: Whenever you have a community, 90% are lurkers, 9% occasionally contribute, and 1% do all the work. We need a renaissance in critical thinking.

Me: I’d like to see Twitter remove the public display of the number of followers.

Dave: That would create what we call a “shit storm.” As the session ends, I’d like us all to think about what we’d like to see from Twitter, what we can add, etc.

[Because of the discursive nature of this session, I’ve done a particularly poor job liveblogging it.]

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