Thursday, March 27, 2008

Word of mouth 2.0

Must-read article from the NYT today on how younger audiences find, share and assimilate news. There are pointers to about 748 lessons for us here, mainly centered around the notion of making the news we produce widely, quickly, conveniently available for users to do with as they wish.

When you read this, think about rivers of news, Twitter, Qik, social networks, mobile delivery, open archives ... and if you don't ever think about those things, start.

According to interviews and recent surveys, younger voters tend to be not just consumers of news and current events but conduits as well — sending out e-mailed links and videos to friends and their social networks. And in turn, they rely on friends and online connections for news to come to them. In essence, they are replacing the professional filter — reading The Washington Post, clicking on — with a social one.

“There are lots of times where I’ll read an interesting story online and send the U.R.L. to 10 friends,” said Lauren Wolfe, 25, the president of College Democrats of America. “I’d rather read an e-mail from a friend with an attached story than search through a newspaper to find the story.”

In one sense, this social filter is simply a technological version of the oldest tool in politics: word of mouth. Jane Buckingham, the founder of the Intelligence Group, a market research company, said the “social media generation” was comfortable being in constant communication with others, so recommendations from friends or text messages from a campaign — information that is shared, but not sought — were perceived as natural.

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