While I see, I microblog

On: October 10, 2010
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About Floor Broer van Dijk
I am a student of the New Media Master. Before this, I did the Television Bachelor at Media & Culture, University of Amsterdam. I also completed the first year of Sport, Management and Organisation. Now I am working as editor at Blue Circle, a production company which makes Television shows.


Microblogging, everyone is doing it, ‘normal’ people like us and ‘very important’ people like politicians, the Dutch Queen and celebrities. We share with the world what we are doing at the moment, or what is on our minds. According to Akshay Java, Tim Finin, Xiaodan Song, & Belle Tseng in their article on why we twitter, microblogging is a new form of communication in which users can describe their current status  in short posts, distributed by instant messages, mobile phones, email or the web. ((Java, Akshay. Tim Finin. Xiaodan Song. Belle Tseng. Why we Twitter: Understanding Microblogging Usage and Communities. International Conference of Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining. San Jose, California. 2007)),  They use the definition of Wikipedia to describe microblogging as: “a form of blogging that lets you write brief text updates (usually less than 200 characters) about your life on the go and send them to friends and interested observers via text messaging, instant messaging (IM), email or the web.” ((Microblogging. Wikipedia.nl. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micro-blogging>. 2010))

I have a twitter account but doing nothing with it. I don’t post messages of what I’m doing but when I’m bored I always peek on the twitter application on my phone to see what the people are doing which I follow on twitter. Twitter is not the only place where you can microblog. Also on facebook it’s possible to write short notes about what you are doing. On facebook, I microblog. I like to place pictures of weird things I see and put them on facebook with a short message of what I was doing and how I found the weird thing or how I became in a weird situation.

Well, that is all really interesting but what I find interesting is the increasingly merge of television and New media. Like more and more television programs use microblogging. In the beginning it was to promote their program so that everybody was going to watch it. Then there are the sites on twitter generated by the hashtags that collect all the tweets of one topic by putting  #(name of the topic) behind your tweet. ((Diakopoulos, Nicholas A., David A. Shamma. ‘Evaluative Tweet study’ Characterizing Debate Performance via Aggregated Twitter Sentiment. Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Atlanta. Georga. 2010.)) So for example you can twitter about ‘Oh oh Cherso’ and putting #ohohcherso behind the tweet. By clicking on it you see all the tweets about Oh oh Cherso. If you look at this site while Oh oh Cherso is on television, you can discuss about the program while watching since so many people do this. There is even a site which offer you to ‘twitter along with Oh oh Cherso.’ When you put the hashtag #zappen behind your tweet, it appears all on this site.

But now there is a new trend where the program itself likes you to microblog along with the program. You can post your opinion on the site of the television show while watching the television show (online). For example if you look at Pauw & Witteman., when you look the show online, you can post your opinion in your twitter or facebook account. On the side of the Pauw & Witteman site, you can see all the microblogs which has been written during the show. You can react on each other or at the things being said in the show. According to Maarten Reijnders there is a service named chitter.tv which combines television watching with actual twitter commentary. (( Reijnders. Maarten. Chittertv combineert tv beelden met twitter. Bright.nl. <http://www.bright.nl/chittertv-combineert-tv-beelden-met-twitter>. 13-01-2010. 07-10-2010.))

How this trend started? In the fall of 2008, Current TV ran a program called ‘Hack the Debate.’ In this program they called for people to microblog comments during a live event. They used Twitter and the ‘tweets’ were displayed on TV underneath the live presidential debate between Obama and McCain. This success has lead to many broadcasters to call for tweets during live broadcasts. Viewers could see opinions one by one while watching the program. This collection of tweets provides an opportunity to understand the overall sentiment of the participating microbloggers during the event. ((Diakopoulos, Nicholas A., David A. Shamma. Characterizing Debate Performance via Aggregated Twitter Sentiment. Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Atlanta. Georga. 2010.))

Nicholas A. Diakopoulos and David A. Shamma are saying that when people tweet live about a media event, they are in effect annotation. “When minded for their affective content, these annotations can identify parts of the video that gained interest or proved controversial.” ((Idem, 2010))  So using twitter for television shows is a good way to mesure the opinion among the watchers about the discussed topic or the event (like the debate of Obama and McCain.)

Matthias Kiessling, Kirsten Mrkwicka & Lutz M. Kolbe also think that web 2.0 is an opportunity but they think it’s also a threat. On the one hand, the web poses another rival in the competition for recipients and their attention and on the other hand, TV-networks employ internet as an additional distribution and feedback channel. (like the example from the Obama-McCain debate) ((Kiessling, Matthias, Kirsten Mrkwicka, Lutz M. Kolbe. Potential of web 2.0 Applications for Viewer Retention: the case of viewer relationship management in German TV stations. Americas Conference of Information Systems. 2009))

Alfred Hermida has another approach of the increasingly merge between television and new media, microblogging which I also find interesting. In his article ‘From TV to Twitter: How Ambient News Became Ambient Journalism’ he looks at the trend of social media users becoming journalists. He uses the example of Clay Shirky who cited in a TED talk in June 2009, the devastating earthquake that struck the Sichuan province of china in May 2008 as an example of how media flows are changing. The first reports of the quake came not from traditional news media, but from local residents who sent messages on QQ (China’s largest social network) and on Twitter. According to Shirky, as the quake was happening, the news was reported. ((Shirky, Clay. In: Hermida, Alfred. From TV to Twitter: How Ambient News became Ambient Journalism. M/C Journal. Vol. 13. No 2. 2010))

Hermida claims that Twitter has emerged as a key medium for news and information about major events (such as during the earthquake) . Services such as Twitter can be considered as awareness systems, intended to help people construct and maintain awareness of each other’s activities, context or status, even when the participants are not co-located. ((Markopoulos, Panos, Boris De Ruyter and Wendy MacKay. Awareness Systems: Advances in Theory, Methodology and Design. Dordrecht: Springer, 2009.)) In this system, the value does not lie in the individual chip of information that may, on its own, be of limited value or validity. Instead, the value lies in the combined effect of the communication. In this way, Twitter is becoming part of an ambient media system where users receive a flow of information from both established media and from each other. (( Hermida, Alfred. From TV to Twitter: How Ambient News became Ambient Journalism. M/C Journal. Vol. 13. No 2. 2010))

So, where would I like to do research about? I can answer that question in a broad sense. I want to do research about the increasingly merge of television and New Media, in specific microblogging. Above I described two cases that I find interesting and I want to dig deeper into it.

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