At 02:36 this morning, Mrs. sirhc and I welcomed Kaylee Bria into the world. She weighed in a 6 lbs., 6 oz. (2.89 kg) and measured 18.90 inches (48 cm). Kaylee and her mother are currently resting at the hospital. They are scheduled to come home on Thursday morning.
During the wildfires last year in San Diego, accurate and up to date news was difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. The traditional news media outlets were of little use. The television stations were repeatedly broadcasting the same outdated information. The Web sites of the local news stations and the Union-Tribune were so overloaded that they became inaccessible and worthless.
Into this fray steps KPBS, San Diego’s public radio station. Clearly, they have Internet-savvy employees, because in short order their Web site was moved temporarily to a hosting provider that could handle the load. More impressive, however, was their use of so-called Web 2.0 tools. Using the Google Maps API, KPBS was able to create a map of the fires, evacuation zones, and emergency shelters. This was so useful to the residents of San Diego (and anyone outside the area who was desperate for information) that Google even published a case study.
But that’s not what I want to write about. The fires, and KPBS in particular, were my introduction to Twitter. The very first user I chose to follow was @KPBS News. From them, I was able to stay up to date in a way that neither television nor radio could deliver. This was before Twitter’s amazing popularity led to frequent appearances of the Fail Whale.
I was reminded of this tonight when I read this tweet:
@chslaw your analysis is based purely on two days of sporadic tweets by 1 person and assuming there was equal protest at both conventions?
There is so much going on in this single tweet, I barely know where to begin. First, and perhaps most obvious, KPBS is once again taking advantage of Twitter to keep their readers abreast of goings on in a way that neither radio nor even blog articles can deliver. And they’re doing it well—even going so far as to advertise it during their station identification breaks. This is micro-blogging at its finest: delivering short, pertinent news updates to readers in real-time. Not only is it real-time, but it’s time-shifted as well. I don’t need to pay active attention to the tweets. Instead, if I’ve been away from the computer for a few hours, I can quickly look over the list of tweets I missed.
The contributors to KPBS’s Twitter feed, though I don’t know who they are, clearly enjoy doing it. During the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, there has been a constant stream of tweets, keeping us informed of not only the important news of the day—the kind of thing that will show up on the wire services after the fact— but the seemingly trivial events as well. A VIP sighting in the security line, who just stopped by the news desk for a quick interview, or even unedited, first-person, subjective comments on police actions. This is why I respect KPBS and why we will likely never see a so-called real news service use Twitter: the people running the show would be scared to death to allow this kind of uncensored commentary. Even blogs allow the writer to spend time thinking about the article before they post it, and editors to retract information after the fact. Twitter is immediate. Twitter is real life, as it happens.
Finally, there’s whyu this specific tweet caused me to sit up and take notice. It wasn’t a news bite or color commentary. It was a specific response to another user. This is interactive news—News 2.0 if you will. Suddenly, the audience is a live participant in the story, as it happens. Is there a question the reporter isn’t asking? Is there an angle not being covered completely? Direct a tweet at the news organization and maybe those concerns will be addressed.
That, to me, is what is truly amazing about Twitter. Sure, anyone following me knows what I had for breakfast, or what’s bothering me at work (or, in the near future, when my daughter will be born), but that’s merely the fun stuff. I’ve only been active on Twitter since early summer, but already I can’t remember life before it.