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1pound40 unconference – a couple of after-thoughts

This week I managed to get to Thomson/Reuters’s swanky headquarters in Canary Wharf to take part in an unconference called 1pound40.

Some great minds – from journalists to social media specialists – spent the afternoon discussing the impact of social media on politics and news, among other things. Not surprisingly, Twitter became the main focal point of most of our sessions.

Whether we discussed the power of social media in changing politics or whether Twitter and social media in general can curate news, the discussions always became more general as we were all trying to define the influence of Twitter and other tools on our lives.

It’s impossible to summarise all our discussions and thoughts, but I’d like to mention two keywords that cropped up several times during the session and which will be quite important in our future discussion about social media. I list them here in no particular order of importance:

transliteracy: not a new term, but an increasingly important one. I was lucky enough to share the table with professor Sue Thomas of Leicester University, who has been writing about transliteracy for years. Transliteracy is in my opinion a pre-requisite to a successful engagement with social media – or media in general. The ability to write, read and communicate across a wide variety of mostly digital, but also analogue platforms, and the ability to create value using the most appropriate tools and platforms for your needs is absolutely crucial. It’s surprising how many people who should be transliterate – journalists, for example – are still reluctant to embrace another medium and turn it into their advantage. Such approach is unsustainable and short-sighted. Period.

curating content: in other words, trying to embrace the wealth of knowledge and information social media offer us. But how? Richard Sambrook asked whether Twitter and social media can curate news and provide a framework for trust. Yes they can, but with (sometimes severe) limitations. Should news companies like the BBC even curate content from Twitter? If so, how do you approach the issue of trust (by sticking to journalistic principles, I’d say – check, cross-check, verify – don’t just republish)? Curating content might be the way forward, but the biggest issue – after trust – is the volume of information. How do you cope with that? How do you filter it out? Twitter lists might be one solution, but Twitter is just one tool among hundreds available.

I’m hoping to explore the issue of content curation over the next few months, but your thoughts on it – or any of the above issues – are welcome.

(There are some pictures from 1pound40 over on my Posterous blog)

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