My paper analysing Twitter as a system of ambient journalism has just been published online by Journalism Practice.
In it, I approach that services like Twitter that allow for the instant dissemination of fragments of news and information as awareness systems.
I suggest that these broad, asynchronous, lightweight and always-on systems are enabling citizens to maintain a mental model of news and events around them, giving rise to awareness systems that I describe as ambient journalism.
Here’s an excerpt from the conclusion:
The emergence of ambient journalism through new digital delivery systems and evolving communications protocols, in this case Twitter, raises significant research questions for journalism scholars and professionals. This paper offers an initial exploration of the relationship between awareness systems and shifting journalism norms and practices. Twitter is, due to the speed and volume of tweets, a ‘‘noisy’’ environment, where messages arrive in the order received by the system. A future direction for journalism may be to develop approaches and systems that help the public negotiate and regulate the flow of awareness information, providing tools that take account of this new mode for the circulation of news. Journalists would be seen as sense-makers, rather than just reporting the news. This broadens the journalist’s role as proposed by Bardoel and Deuze of a professional ‘‘who serves as a node in a complex environment between technology and society, between news and analysis, between annotation and selection, between orientation and investigation’’ (2001, p. 101). In the case of ambient journalism, the role may be designing the tools that can analyse, interpret and contextualise a system of collection intelligence, rather than in the established practice of selection and editing of content.
The abstract and references are available on the Journalism Practice site, but to download the paper you will need to be a subscriber to the journal. Or access the site from a library that subscribes to the journal.
The paper is due to appear in print in a special edition of Journalism Practice later this year, based on the Future of Journalism conference held at Cardiff University in 2009.
The presentation and slides of my presentation at the conference are available on this blog.