Saturday, October 20, 2007

Thinking about rivers of news

Doc Searls, one of the web's leading-edge thinkers and co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto, says a year from now we'll all know the term "newsrivers" and, indeed, be producing them.

From his recent post:

News is a river, not a lake. It is active, not static. It’s what’s happening, not what happened. Or not only what happened.

But what happened — news as olds — is how we’ve understood news for as long as we’ve had newspapers. The happening kind of news came along with radio, and then television. Then we called it “live”. Still, even on the nightly news, what’s live is talking heads and reports from the field. The rest is finished stuff.

There’s a difference here, a distinction to be made: one as stark and important as the distinction between now and then, or life and death. It’s a distinction between what’s live and what’s not.

This distinction is what will have us soon talking about the life of newspapers, rather than the death of them.

Because it’s not enough to be “online” or to have a “presence” on the Web.

To be truly alive, truly new, truly part of the life of its readers, a newspaper needs to be on the live web and not just the static one. It needs to flow news, and not just post it.

It needs to flow rivers of news, or newsrivers.

I have one version of a New York Times "newsriver" bookmarked on my iPhone. You can cruise it online here. This is obviously preliminary, proof-of-concept stuff. We've used Typepad blogs at our DC website to flow rivers of breaking news in the past, most recently I believe for the Virginia Tech shootings, or maybe the Petraeus testimony.

But there's a lot of thought and experimentation to be done with this concept. I think it's fruitful, and I'd love to hear what you've been doing that touches on this.

1 comment:

  1. Man, now I have Garth Brooks' The River song in my head!

    I'd love to hear what you've been doing that touches on this.


    It looks like that NYT newsriver page is just a rough version of the NYT Twitter feeds.