which do you read first?

December 7, 2010

News is about people. Traditional news covers people such as Prime Ministers, Presidents, leaders of business and so on.

Once upon a time these were all packaged up in newspapers published each day, then broadcast in news bulletins on the wireless every hour and later on TV.

All of this information has moved online – you can read, watch or listen to news as it happens from anywhere in the world. I am quite interested in Aussie politics and read about it at The Age (Melbourne) or The Sydney Morning Herald.

So for free (well, the ongoing cost of my web connection), I can know what is happening to politicians and business leaders on the other side of the planet.

But the web has done something else. I can also read news from hundreds (or thousands if I want) of ordinary people. On Facebook via my PC or mobile I can see a stream of updates from people I see everyday and people I see from time to time (I get updates from my friend in Cambridgeshire and know what is happening to her most days, whereas Before Facebook (BF) we maybe spoke once a month / two months, which involved lots of catching up) and from people I haven’t seen for years.

These events I read about are happening to people, and to those folks and to me, these are news stories. Just not in the traditional sense where news values tell you what the Deputy PM does is news, while what my friend CH does in Cambs is unlikely to make the front page of the Sunday Times (as that DPM story did – havent connected to the original story due to the Rupert Murdoch paywall, which I have mentioned before).

I like news in the traditional sense and I like news in this new sense of status updates / feeds / streams which people I know are uploading. This blog I am writing will appear in feeds, sometimes it is commented upon, sometimes re-tweeted or pinged back. Certainly it is read by a few people and to some, on some level it is news that I have written it. Mostly I write commentary on other events (whether readers agree or not is of course up to them) rather than breaking news here.

Altho my Facebook updates will from time to time break news about my life – the biggest one (so far!) being when my son was born. I got messages and comments from all over the world within only a few hours and in some cases from people I havent seen in years.

A friend of mine was on a plane at the time and he landed to discover a voicemail from his mother demanding to know why he hadn’t told her that my boy had arrived – she had seen the Facebook pictures as well – he hadn’t even heard yet as he’d been on a flight. While my brother-in-law who hadn’t been around for the 24+ hours labour as I had, could have uploaded his photos first, while I slept, but told me later he thought it right he wait so I could upload the first photos. I was grateful for this and am glad he had a concept of Facebook etiquette.

I find it interesting that when I click the arrow on Firefox to look for most visited sites, the top two are always the same. One is a news site, the other is Facebook.

One of the life observations I have is whether I look at Facebook or traditional news first more often?

I know when I am expecting an update from a friend I will always look there first. But when I am just browsing while I wait for a train or for someone to arrive, is it the friend stream or the traditional news stream which I go to first? I am going to pay more attention to this.

Please feel free to let me know which one you go for first.

Imagine a world where you approach a landmark and its local webpage pops up in front of you (broadcast from its local server) explaining the history of the place, outlining key facts and generally being your local tourist guide.

There is also a visitors book page where you can read what others have said and leave your own message – either by voice or thru the kep pad of your mobile device (cell phone / laptop / iPad – like device).

Buildings will have their own local pages, telling you what their function is, what historic value they have, where the main entrance is, who built it, where the baby change facilities are, what phone number to use to call in.

You’ll also be able to join its Facebook page, subscribe to its Twitter feed. If you are in a shopping mall, the stores will be able to give you details about their special offers (altho you may have to opt in to these – kind of like leaving your Bluetooth on).

Bus stops will offer traffic info and current bus locations (via GPS) and ETAs in real-time.

If you want directions, you only need to know the postcode and arrows will point you in the right direction – like existing sat nav, but without the physical device in your car. It’ll be like in a video game when arrows in the sky point when you are going the wrong way. Instead of making devices, sat nav companies will just release apps (unless Google maps has already made them redundant by then).

This meshing of the web and the real is something I am looking forward to.

Recently, one of the key bits of tech to make this happen was shown off. There is no date for release yet – and no idea yet when the rest of the infrastructure will be in place to make it all work, but it isn’t that far away.

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