Posted in: Technology

The danger of ‘right now’ news

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The real time web.

The most current news and information always available at our fingertips.

Thirty minute old news is no longer important – it has to be the news that is happening right now. News coming at you with the speed of a firehose open full. If it happened yesterday it is no longer news but rather events as they have been archived by Google.

Robert Scoble wrote today

But there’s a new expectation that we’re having thanks to Twitter. We want everything now in real time. I want to see everything that was published now and respond to it now and I want to have conversations about all that in real time.

While Robert was mainly talking about the aging protocol of RSS feeds I think he is also pointing to a growing trend of people not wanting to wait for their news – especially the early adopter crowd of the tech blogosphere. Since the arrival of Twitter news is now something that we want to read about immediately as it is happening.

We don’t care if it isn’t in-depth coverage or that it is even correct. We have placed our complete news value system in the hands of people we might know because of some social media association. We like to fool ourselves into believing the hype that real-time news is just the icing and we will come back later for the cake. The problem is that human nature dictates otherwise.

As much as we might like to believe that we will take the time to read the in depth version of what was fed to us via the hyper news network the majority of the time we won’t. It is human nature to take the easy road and having to spend what we like to think of as our valuable time reading the complete news isn’t the easy road. Over the last 20 plus years we have been trained to accept less and less actual news.

This sound bite news might have been mainstreamed with the popular MTV sound bite term but it was happening before that. All Twitter has done today is shorten the size of the sound bite even further and made us feel better about accepting less content as real news because it’s all wrapped in the warm and fuzzy term of social media.

Supporters of this hyper news network like to point out that even when mistakes are made they are just as quickly corrected. As comforting as that might sound one only has to look at how errors; intentional or not, in news are handled by the old media. While they splash the headlines across the main page the corrections and apologies are buried deep in the bowels of newsprint.

When it comes to hyper news the idea that news; right or wrong, reaches you as it is happening is great on the face of it. The important news; factual or otherwise, spreads rapidly across many of the friend networks you might have. By the power of re-tweeting that headline is splashed everywhere but what happens if it is proven wrong?

Hot ticket news items always get attention but it only takes one or two people in your friend networks not treating corrections with the same importance and you’ll never hear about it. You are left with incorrect information but believe it to be correct.

But then that doesn’t really matter because you are already on to the next new item to flash across the hyper news network. You don’t have time to make sure that what you believe to be correct actually is because you are relying of a friend network to keep you informed.and they like you are digesting this minute’s right now news flashes.

Right now news might sound like a great concept but I don’t think it is necessarily a great idea. I think that as we try and speed read our way through 140 character news flashes we are losing the ability to understand what the news means. Sound bites have no context. A 140 characters carry no involvement factor.

Right now news cheapens our news. Even more than it might already be.

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