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News is a wave

By coincidence, here are two related posts.

Gilad and Devin at Social Flow track the enormous kinetic energy of a single twitterer who figured out shortly before President Obama’s announcement that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. But my way of putting this — kinetic energy — is entirely wrong, since it was the energy stored within the Net that propelled that single tweet, from a person with about a thousand followers, across the webiverse. And the energy stored within the Net is actually the power of interest, the power of what we care about.

Meanwhile, The Berkman Center today announced the public availability of Media Cloud, a project Ethan Zuckerman and Hal Roberts led. Ethan explains it in a blog post that begins:

Today, the Berkman Center is relaunching Media Cloud, a platform designed to let scholars, journalists and anyone interested in the world of media ask and answer quantitative questions about media attention. For more than a year, we’ve been collecting roughly 50,000 English-language stories a day from 17,000 media sources, including major mainstream media outlets, left and right-leaning American political blogs, as well as from 1000 popular general interest blogs. (For much more about what Media Cloud does and how it does it, please see this post on the system from our lead architect, Hal Roberts.)

We’ve used what we’ve discovered from this data to analyze the differences in coverage of international crises in professional and citizen media and to study the rapid shifts in media attention that have accompanied the flood of breaking news that’s characterized early 2011. In the next weeks, we’ll be publishing some new research that uses Media Cloud to help us understand the structure of professional and citizen media in Russia and in Egypt.

Now Media Cloud is going to be a very useful tool. And it was not trivial to build. Congratulations to the team. And thank you.

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