Tag Archives: twitter lists

How do you find useful Twitter accounts? 5 tips for journalists

twitter network bluenose

A Twitter network identified by Bluenose

A version of this post originally appeared on Help Me Investigate Welfare.

Every so often on Help Me Investigate we compile a list* of people on Twitter to follow on particular issues. Here’s how we do it:

1. Search Twitter biographies only

The quickest way to kick off your Twitter list is to search Twitter biographies for users who mention the areas you’re interested in.

Twitter tool FollowerWonk has a facility for searching biographies on the site – make sure you select “search Twitter bios only” from the drop-down menu. Continue reading

Journalism *is* curation: tips on curation tools and techniques

Curation is a relatively new term in journalism, but the practice is as old as journalism itself. Every act of journalism is an act of curation: think of how a news report or feature selects and combines elements from a range of sources (first hand sources, background facts, first or second hand colour). Not only that: every act of publishing is, too: selecting and combining different types of content to ensure a news or content ‘mix’. 

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’ in his talk to employees at the Washington Post said: “People will buy a package … they will not pay for a story.” Previously that package was limited to what your staff produced, and wire copy. But as more content becomes digitised, it is possible to combine more content from a wider variety of sources in a range of media - and on any one of a number of platforms.

Curation is nothing new – but it is becoming harder.

Choosing the tools

I’ve identified at least three distinct types of curation (you may think of more):

  1. Curation as distribution or relay: this is curation at the platform level: think of Twitter accounts that relay the most useful links and tweets from elsewhere. Or Tumblr blogs that pass on the best images, video and quotes. Or UsVsTh3m.
  2. Curation as aggregation or combination: seen in linkblogging and news roundups, or galleries, or news aggregators (even creating an algorithm or filter is a journalistic act of selection).
  3. Curation as filter or distillation: this often comes in the form of the list: Buzzfeed is a master of these, distilling conversations from Reddit and complementing them with images.

Buzzfeed lists

There are also a number of ways in which the journalist adds value (again, you may think of more):

  • Through illustrating (as Buzzfeed, above, does with images to liven up highlights from a text discussion)
  • Through contextualising
  • Through verification
  • Through following up

As a journalist operating online, you are both reporter and publisher, able to curate content both at the article level and that of ‘publication’ – whether that’s a Twitter stream, a Tumblr blog, or a Flipboard magazine. Here are some suggestions for tools and techniques:
Continue reading

"Follow, Then Filter": from information stream to delta

A year or two ago, as Twitter and FriendFeed in turn made headlines, much was made of how we were increasingly consuming information as a stream. Last January I blogged along those lines on why and how I followed 2,500 people on Twitter – why? I dip in and out rather than expecting to read everything. How? I used filters and groups for the bits I didn’t want to miss.

That behaviour now looks like a precursor to a broader change in my information consumption facilitated by new features in Twitter and Google Reader. And I wonder what that says about wider information consumption now and in the future.

From a stream to a delta

The features in question are Twitter lists and Google Reader bundles.

Now that lists are integrated by Twitter clients such as Tweetdeck and Echofon, it’s easy to switch your default view of Twitter from ‘all friends’ to ‘List X’ – and from ‘List X’ to ‘List Y’ and ‘List Z’ and so on.

I have lists for my MA Online Journalism students, for my undergraduate online journalism students, for data geeks, for people I’ve met in person, for formal news feeds – and I’m switching between them like TV channels.

Likewise, as I start to gather my Google Reader subscriptions into some sort of order, I’m moving from a default behaviour of dipping into ‘all items’, to switching between particular bundles of feeds along the same lines: data blogs, technology news, my students’ blogs, and so on.

To continue the ‘stream’ metaphor, I’m breaking that torrent into a number of smaller rivers – a delta, if you like. (Geographers: feel free to put me right on the technical inadequacy of the analogy)

Follow, Then Filter

Just as the order of things in a networked world has changed from ‘filter, then publish’ to ‘publish, then filter’, it strikes me that I’m adopting the same behaviour in the newsgathering process itself: following first, and filtering later

Why? Because it’s more efficient and – perhaps key – the primary filter is search. And you have to follow first to make something searchable.

In fact, Google itself is a prime example of ‘Follow, Then Filter’, following links across the web to add to its index which users can filter with a search. (another good example is Delicious – bookmarking articles you’ve not read in full because you may want to access them later).

When bandwidth ceases to become an issue – when storage ceases to become an issue – then we can follow as much as we like on the premise that, later, we can filter that information to suit our particular needs at that moment, for the one thing that does have a limit – our attention.