The product you are actually buying is non-existent. You are the product. People pay good money in order to manipulate your social drive to keep you as viewers.
I said this to some friends on FB yesterday, but it bears repeating. Of all the players in this terrible tragedy, the terrorists, the police, the news media, the administration, the politicians, the security-industrial complex and so forth -- it's in everybody's interest to create and sustain some huge public spectacle. That's not a good thing for a democracy or the continuation of a free society. </rant>
It's a clear reminder that limiting news consumption is healthy.
I now wait. For news, I want truth not action.
What a ridiculous and insensitive assertion. These types of arguments only serve to distract from having honest debates about political subjects.
It ought to be much harder to manipulate people this way. I think a major missing part of general education is decision theory: how do people make bad decisions? Rephrased, how do I make bad decisions every day, and how can I avoid them?
News consumption is just one example from a huge class of transactions that are suspect because of manipulation. Our entire economic model is premised on the idea that parties to transactions are rational and self-interested. If there are ways in which people are irrational and manipulable, then 'voluntary' transactions are a fiction (which is clearly the case).
I realized I probably "wasted" three hours following the story. Because at the end of the day, I gained nothing I couldn't have gotten in reading an article at 11pm for five minutes.
I swear, it's like a drug. It's exciting at the time, but afterwards you think, well, that was a stupid waste of my time.
You watch TV for a bunch of hours and there's a constant hum of energy which is mostly just regurgitating the same information over and over again in different ways but there is a little kernel of new information coming out in dribs and drabs. And at the end of X hours it feels like those hours were spent productively because you have been exposed to new information along the way. Typically though you'd be better off just reading a summary later.
In an office environment when you work, say, 12 hours a day you'll find that you do productive work all throughout that period, even in the parts after "normal" hours. And that suckers you into thinking that the whole stretch was valuable, even though typically there are lots of periods of downtime and reduced productivity in those 12 hours and usually you'd be better off just working 8 hours or less and having better time management. Similarly, when you happen to overhear co-workers talking about something important and you go join the discussion and it turns out to be very fruitful you have that same post hoc rationalization that how things happened is the best and/or only possible way for productive work to happen.
When looking at $cost_of_office_with_private_space versus $cost_of_open_plan_office it might make sense to go for the open plan office.
But $cost_of_office_with_private_space versus ($cost_of_open_plan_office + $productivity_cost) might lead to a different conclusion.
With great difficulty :)
You're right, and I think your question helps strengthen my point - the cost of office space is just one factor.
That's not strictly true. If all you do is watch "real news" on TV all day, perhaps, because they just regurgitate the same information over and over.
I was able to feel more involved with what was actually happening. To feel more connected with people who were affected by the bombings. To see what went on, and to empathize with people. Rather than consume the same 5 pictures shown on the news over and over, there were hundreds, thousands of pictures to look at, lots of people telling their stories, people posting pictures from their days that let me be immersed in their experiences, etc. I also got to witness the heroic acts of everyone in the vicinity, those injured themselves, who overcame their instinct to run and saved lives. The death toll would've easily climbed to 10 if these people hadn't immediately acted selflessly -- stories not widely talked about in the news. I'm astonished at how incredible some of these people are.
The end result is that I feel connected to my Boston brethren, and feel deeply empathetic with those who have a loss, and want to help.
You don't get that sense of community out of a 5 minute story after everything is said and done. So my time doesn't feel wasted at all. I'm a human, not an information processing robot.
However, yesterday a couple million people really needed to know what was going on immediately. For those of us who live in and around Boston, it's a really small town (that punches wayyy above its weight). It seems like everybody I know in Boston was nearby to some part of the craziness. Those who weren't had a loved one nearby.
Everyone in Boston can say something like, "my friend crossed the finish line a half hour before the blasts," "my girlfriend worked right by the finish line," "I walked through Kendall a half hour before the MIT cop was shot," "my neighbor went to the hospital with a somewhat serious wound."
Given the proximately, we simply needed to know where stuff was happening immediately. People will point to the journalistic errors and say we were dangerously misled at times. But that is the risk of all information that pops up on the internet. Everyone living in the internet age has learned to attach probabilities to everthing we read. I give CNN breaking news 60% probability of getting it right. I give @YourAnonNews 30% probability of getting it right. Although Twitter reports are often wrong, the right story is usually in there, and thoughtful people are always questioning the right facts.
I just want to come back to where I started. You're right that breaking news is broken. But yesterday, the chatter on Twitter alerted us of risks hours ahead of sound/verifiable reporting. Although many of those reports were quickly rescinded, I believe many Bostonians made prudent, timely choices as a result.
I guess my point is that news has different purposes for different audiences. For at least one audence yesterday, I thought the information coming over good accounts on Twitter was a blessing.
Reminds me of energy drinks.
Energy drinks make sense for some athletes, in some situations. But mostly, they're purchased by people who have been conditioned, in some way and to some extent or another, to think they need an energy drink.
"Everyone" is a red flag that this sentence is an example of what it refers to.
If you're saying that meaningful information can't be conveyed in 142 characters then I think you'd be dismissing the majority of spoken conversations, chat, sms, etc. A good example to the contrary: https://twitter.com/Boston_Police
But I think I've missed your point...
Trivial information can be shared in 142 characters. Sure, T is used by some as an aggregator/reader/chat tool, but then what are we doing talking tech here at HN instead of on T? The format and structure just isn't optimal for these functions. It's breadth and no depth with that format and structure.
I never said gossip is of zero value, but I did say 142 characters will never be journalism. The legacy media structure is precisely why the world is in such a bad spot today. That you jest about journalism is just an example of the systemic problem in society writ large. What you should be complaining about is quality, not the function itself.
"Information is the currency of democracy." -JT
The last thing I wanted was to jest about journalism. I'm an avid reader of long accounts of events. My point in putting "journalism" in quotes was that you seemed to be offering a definition to a specific term as opposed to discussing the capacity to convey information through various media.
I didn't want to argue semantics -- I wanted to discuss the capacity of Twitter to convey information quickly.
> What you should be complaining about is quality, not the function itself.
Sorry, I don't follow.
This is a bizarre comment to read on a news aggregation and discussion site.
Rank 1 headlines would be SMS-ed to me immediately. Rank 2 would be e-mailed immediately. Rank 3 would be collated by e-mail daily. I could choose specific categories of interest (technology, US politics) to add to the daily e-mail of lower ranks (4, 5, etc.)
That way, I'd always know I wasn't missing anything important, but not wasting my time either. Happily, there would be whole days where nothing of importance happened, and I'd have nothing to read!
There are very few scenarios where a person can be physically threatened by the nature of their information. In those rare situations, anonymity doesn't protect the individual because the information is likely only privilege to a small group.
To identify content of public importance, you would need to identify which people the information is important to geographically and then determine the demand via market forces and then determine the trustworthiness of the content by evaluating the individual sharing the information.
You end up with a trust structure tied to publishing capability on a geospatial information system.
Already building it!
Between corporate content, categories and so many human moderators it is going to be a battle as a viable business. My ad testing also showed a non-trivial percentage of their audience and traffic is <14 y/o.
1. During important events, a lot of us want to be/feel connected to what's going on. Watching on TV does that and following reddit/twitter/web does that too, but picking up the paper hours later doesn't. You could make the same argument as the article about the super bowl: if you want to know what happened, don't use twitter or watch the game on TV (remember when everyone thought the 49ers were going to score on that last drive to win the game? LOL FAIL!) just wait until a few hours after it's over and read about it on your favorite website! I mean, that's all true, but it misses the point. For a lot of events, for better or worse, we want to know what's happening as it happens.
2. I use twitter to follow breaking news and news related to my profession (I'm an economist), so I choose who to follow based on that and know which people are reliable and unreliable; @AntDeRosa (among others) is awesome and responsible; I stopped following some other people for irresponsibility during hurricane sandy, etc. So there's no universal "twitter." I get a lot of valuable "breaking news" out of twitter and reddit, but depending on how other people use it, they may not. I really doubt that the Manjoo really believed that all of the rumors he read online were true.
3. Pretty much all of the relevant breaking news on, say, cyprus was coming from twitter. There are many other examples. For breaking non-mainstream news, there is no alternative to twitter etc. For this event, some of the threads on r/news were amazingly informative.
4. From what I've read, a lot of the misinformation problems were caused by journalists either on TV or online. Point fingers at them.
edit: and by "them" I mean those particular people, not "journalists" as a group.
But I was able to listen in on the major events as they happened and that's what I wanted. I got to hear on the scanner when the first suspect was confirmed deceased and I was listening in as the police were chasing after the second suspect. I heard "shots fired" when they found the second suspect inside the boat, and "suspect in custody! suspect confirmed in custody!" when he was finally caught. Then I listened in to the police officers congratulating each other and feeling proud that their hard work and planning had paid off.
That's what I wanted to get out of that and that's not something you get from reading a newspaper a few hours later. You might get a nice narrative out of it, and some journalist might add some fancy and colorful language to the article, but that doesn't capture the FEELING of being part of it or the kind of suspense you get from listening to the entire thing. Nor do you get to appreciate how much work went into catching this guy. The articles afterwards read like this: "Suspect 1 dead! Suspect 2 was captured! One officer died, another officer critically injured! Here's a picture of a bunch of cops standing around!" But listening in, you get to hear how calm the officers are as they radio in to report some seriously intense stuff. You get to hear their professionalism and how much organization goes into everything. You get to understand fully what it is that they're doing out there. You get a far more human perspective from the incident. That's what I appreciate more than anything.
It's broken except for the people who saw the suspect in the boat - who knew from breaking news that he was being chased.
It's broken except for the people who wanted celebrate on the streets when the suspect was caught.
In the UK at least, the newspapers are often wrong in all the same ways suggested in the article, so that luxury of only publishing once a day doesn't seem to help that much.
Most breaking news isn't meant to be watched continuously. Most news is designed for people who are busy doing other things and checking in once in a while. Breaking means it's so new they haven't had time to summarize & package it for you, so it'll be rough and weird.
That's it. The reason it's repetitive is to sound fresh for the next guy who checks in.
If you're spending time watching it repeat, expecting something new to happen as you're watching, you're frankly doing it wrong.
Perhaps, but he's doing it as intended, and that's part of the problem.
News outlets aren't incentivized to let their customers be on their merry way after 5 minutes. They're in the business of getting eyeballs on screens for the maximum duration possible.
Compare Headline News -- a constant loopy stream of Headlines to CNN. Don't blame CNN because you are bored so they tell you more stuff. Don't blame HN do being repetitive. Change the channel if you don't need the infom
So, you're saying CNN doesn't actually want their consumers to stay glued to the screen & news feed? Qualify that.
This is about how they intend for their product to be consumed, not how consumers can get maximum utility out of the product.
So imagine that CNN tries to reinvent themselves after this weeks fiasco. They spend a bunch of time and money setting up their newsgathering operation to tag everything with metadata and provide special software to consume the tag feeds and manage users attention; gobs of customisation options, in depth access to the underlying data, not just for financial news, but also the analysis of breaking events and the public reaction thereto. Basically a Bloomberg Terminal, with a broader focus.
And if they do all of that. They will continue to lose money to outlets that treat events as a cross between a circus-freak sideshow and a particularly bloody genre of morality play ( FOX and NYPost, as instances of the Grand Guignol approach to journalism ).
The latter feature would be spectacular to have on HN. Not having the site tell me which comments are new, and letting me navigate just to them, feels so archaic to me now.
It's always amusing how Fox is so popular to slam that even in an article where CNN is flamed for doing what they seem to do quite often - you have to go after Fox.
Outside of the talking head shows on Fox, I find their reporting to be as good or better than CNN. I think it's the result of the accepted culture of attacking them because their talking head shows are to the right. They have to be better than the next channel because they're under more scrutiny.
If so, I can point to many examples of bias on all major news and media outlets.
I am SO sick of hear "according to a source" because they don't want to clue in other news organizations. There was a time when news reporters considered their jobs partially a civic duty. Protecting sources solely for selfish reasons has completely diluted the concept of these "unnamed sources".
Reporters anonymize to protect sources, which in the Western world generally means "keeping them from getting fired" (in much of the world it means "keeping them from getting fired at").
Here's the thing -- either you trust that the reporter/organization has good sources (that they've worked them for long enough that they know that their information is good), or you don't. Adding decorative details on the source (such as "beat cop") does little to support the claims, as often the people who want to talk the most are often the people with the least information.
Which is why it is virtually worthless to listen to random people on Reddit making claims that they cite as backed by their own sources ("my uncle who is a xyz says that..."). I have absolutely no reason to believe the Reddit poster is telling the truth, and even if they were I have no reason to believe that their source is telling the truth.
The world is full of liars and bullshitters. Add in the well-meaning people who "fill in the unknowns" to make the story more interesting....it's just a sea of noise that is overwhelmingly wrong. It's unfortunate that now traditional media feels that they need to fight this static by embracing it (the most laughable being reporters reading "tweets" on topics), the net result being the lowest common denominator for all.
I'm not sure that news outlets like CNN are "broken" per se as they had abandoned "news" a long time ago (would OJ be a turning point?). Just like the History channel is "broken" cable news is "broken". They just don't care about news, it's really about audience retention and ratings. There's really nothing wrong with that, it's just up to us to abandon them just as they have abandoned their original intentions.
It's a fundamentally different thing to watch the news about somewhere else then it is to watch the news about where you are.
From what I've read, MSNBC's Pete Williams - I think it was - also did a stellar job, which could mean that "fixing" breaking news just means turning to MSNBC instead of CNN.
Twitter is as good as the people you follow. Duh.
Stupid linkbait article.
If I recall correctly, there was even an article about this idea on Hacker News just a few days ago.
If there is ever anything really important, I am bound to hear it via conversations with my family, friends, or co-workers. Or even a quick scan of headlines on HN. No need to be glued to CNN.
However, articles on HN about inspiring topics, software engineering principles, or new ways of thinking, there's something worth reading.
For instance, a couple of years ago when I first joined Twitter after realizing it was the best way to get breaking news (i.e. I literally joined to follow @BreakingNews), one of the first breaking news tweets I ran into was "NORTH KOREA SAYS WAR WILL RETURN TO THE CONTINENT". My initial reaction was "wow, I'm glad I joined Twitter and have early access to this important information". It didn't take long to realize that while the breaking news was true in that it quoted an official NK representative, it was useless in alerting me to a new war because I was not yet aware that NK pulls this kind of stunt relatively frequently.
While there are plenty of incidents in the past week where false information was spread, it doesn't imply to me that I should ignore breaking news until it is properly spoon fed to me in a newspaper article the next day. Instead, it just reminds me that something like a feed from an unfiltered police scanner should be considered as a source of limited information about an occurring event.
The point of the article is that the reliable information value of breaking news is exactly zero. Until you get the summarized and verified end-of-week report, you're being entertained instead of informed.
Breaking news is lead generation. It's a stream of leads which may turn out to have a fact at the end. The right audience for that are journalists, not regular people. Tracking live news without doublechecking everything you hear is a way of satisfying information addiction, but it is not a way of getting informed.
For instance, the Bank of Japan recently set a target of purchasing 60-70 trillion yen worth of long-term debt and securities per year in an effort to fight against deflation. This type of news is released unpredictably and waiting for an "end-of-week report" may not adequately meet my asset management goals.
For instance, on the matter of blaming the missing Brown student, I remember comments in a reddit thread that were quickly deleted showing a comparison of the face of the Brown student with the officially released FBI photos of "Suspect #2". The comment didn't claim they were the same person, it just raised the question. However, it only took minutes for the reddit hivemind to jump to the conclusion that the Brown student was "Suspect #2"
When "breaking news" is covering an ongoing disaster or police action, where the information they're getting is potentially second- or third-hand, and where the primary sources might not fully understand what they themselves witnessed, there's a lot of opportunity to go wrong. Crimes and disasters may play out very differently from expectations, and may therefore require careful after-the-fact analysis of every available shred of information, before they're actually understood.
On the other hand, certain events can be fully and clearly understood right as they happen. Consider "new Pope selected", "tornado spotted 3 miles west of Townsville", or "School track team takes second at Rival Invitational; Person wins 4 individual events". Official announcements, or events happening according to an understood pattern, generally come through the "breaking news" cycle without problems.
Of course there are limitations: my NYT still had the suspects at large Friday morning. Obviously the story had developed considerably since press time.
Nevertheless, Manjoo's point is well-taken. If you don't live in the immediate vicinity (and thus need the news for personal safety), your knowledge -- and your blood pressure -- will probably benefit from a bit of moderation in news consumption.
Basically news is a race, and since the major reporting institutions used to be the only ones racing they would always win, so they would make sure they would do it right. Now they're racing with Twitter, yet trying to have the same authority as they used to. It's a race you can't win.
Just listen to the news for a few minutes and you'll hear "Many sources are saying that..." That really means "We're watching Twitter, and..." but they're not willing to admit that they don't really know for sure.
On a personal note, I found myself nervous all of Friday. I did check twitter frequent, refresh a few websites, etc. So from a sanity standpoint, I completely agree with the author and I'll be taking the advice next time. Go do something productive. Get your mind off the horror; you can update yourself tomorrow.
Otherwise, yes, go about your business. There's no way you can react like this to every tragedy everywhere and retain your sanity.
[Also, I was watching local Boston TV, periodically listening to the Boston NPR radio station, and following Twitter (where some people were relaying what was being said on the police radios); all of those can be done online. For the last hour about all that came out was that the guy was in a boat, there were some noises that were maybe gunshots, but not clear who was firing, maybe the cops were using stun grenades, and finally they announced he had been captured. But mostly that was just waiting, because they deliberately weren't giving out information right then, so I'm not surprised you didn't know what was going on, no matter what your news source. By the way, as someone non-local who were "all of the people you're supposed to" follow?]
But at the same time, and I think this is the point of the article: do you realize how futile was the "constant updating yourself" through the media? First, no matter how frequent and recent are the updates, there is nothing you can do to change the events past. And second, if you are as close to the unfolding of events as you were, you will have better information than the media anyway. For me at least, much more effective than waiting for the radio was a simple call/text/FB ping on the people I knew and I was worried about.
- That I was asked to help keep the streets clear
- More specifically, that I should not go to work
- Though it turned out that there was no need for a controlled detonation, if one had occurred less than a mile from my home, the news reports are the only way I'd know what it was. I could have harassed the officers, but I wasn't going to do that either way.
- Later, that it was OK to leave my home
- Still later, that the manhunt was over and my plans in Watertown this morning could proceed as normal
This is all real, actionable information for me that was reported correctly. I think on the average, I'm better off with that information, even if there was also some garbage mixed in.
Also, what would have happened if the owner of the boat hadn't been following breaking news when the stay-home request was lifted? The bombing suspect would likely have died where he was and not been found until morning. Everyone's better off for that sequence of events.
On the other hand, Fox made me gnash my teeth when a reporter on the street in Boston presented "breaking news" that there would be a press conference in a few hours, which is hardly news let alone breaking news.
When all you have is a twitter stream and a few websites to cmd+r you are left with the feeling that you are missing something. It's the advantage of visual media and aggregation.
I didn't need to know all of this, but I found following it all very gripping and wanted to hear the capture played out.
Of course, last Friday I was stuck inside with everyone else in my section of Boston and I mostly spent the day following my friends with scanners on zephyr. So the temptation does get to be too much when the news is too close by.
I have almost zero interest in the sports stuff that normally graces the gym TVs, but yesterday I was longing for ESPN. This just leaves me more convinced than ever that mainstream news the way it exists today is actually harmful to society.
A worthy enough sentiment on its own, but expressed so insensitively and divisively that these criticisms come across as nothing more than an attempt by the publisher to deflect scrutiny onto other media outlets.
Having worked in PR, I truly feel the world of media and journalism needs some serious disruption (hate that I used the word, kill me now). Hopefully some startup is cranking away :-)
most of the initial tweets were wrong, you are seeing the thought process before it has been confirmed.
One good part, with people tweeting and the power of amplifying via retweets, it would tough to stage events as in conspiracies
Of course, the news did help, it made me aware of the event in question happening. But it's not really the source of actual information.
How about, instead of your current headline, you put his name in your headline, along with the words, "HE HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT!"
i think waiting in line for an apple product, putting up with commercials to watch some tv show on the night it airs, paying large premiums for a device that will be a lot cheaper in 6 months, wasting hours in live news coverage to be the first to hear about the new developments of the story all fall into the same category. it just doesn't make sense because all of these things are better at a later time. when there are no lines, and the story is polished and more factually correct.
It has all of the effectiveness of a meeting that results in no action items.
Don’t watch cable news. Shut off Twitter. You’d be better off cleaning your gutters.
Film at 11. Uninformed conjecture at 10.
1) Geospatial information system
3) Exclusively peer-generated content
It's just a php copy/paste - http://en.blog.guylhem.net/post/48447265179/adding-a-hacker-...
Addendum to the JS thoughts:
As people saw with RSS after reader went down, the data structure isn't consistent across the RSS world either. That makes the reader problem more complex than first perceived.
Rather than try to distill complex content and fit it into a para-structure, nwzPaper is designed to be a transparent third-party to standardize article format in the publishing form:
3) location pin
4) article body
Each article includes the journalist's name--not to be confused with the new legal distinction of blogger--and a link to his or her content inventory and a link to a structured "perspective" to interpret the journalist's information product through.
If a search engine or aggregator organizes third-party content there will always be an indexing/crawling delay. That makes traditional search brands only useful for non-news, historic information query and analysis.
Search was a big deal ten years ago because it got rid of categories, but it is insufficient for solving the news problem.