Read & Respond – Week 5

February 3, 2011

This week, we’re all about location, micro-updates, and (perhaps most importantly) checking in. Briggs (chapter 4) starts us off with a first look at microblogging and Twitter. Some of you have never used Twitter, some of you used it for the first time during our State of the Union assignment (notice the use of an anchored link there … and here!), and some of you have been resisting … but NO LONGER.

Once you’re through Briggs’ introduction to the subject, let’s look at some recent interactions of Twitter and location. FACT: You are students at West Virginia University. FACT: You are not currently in Egypt, yet you are able to get up-to-the-minute information on the recent uprisings via the #Egypt and #Jan25 tags. FACT: You are currently living in a city that was somehow not (yet) hit by last Tuesday’s massive snowstorm, yet you can see what’s happening through (floridly written) tags like #snowpocalypse (if you know of a better one, let me know). Take a look through – what’s being reported, and re-reported, and what does this tell you?

(UPDATE: Speaking of Egypt hashtags, check out this massive social media FAIL by Kenneth Cole)

What’s happening here is the ability to “check in” with information from all corners of the world, and in turn we have the ability to “check out” those check ins (check, please!). At its core, each user is delivering a little grain of information – of limited use on their own, but together they make up an interesting pile.

The idea of the check-in is also behind mobile apps like Foursquare, which I’ve asked you to start using this week. Far from just entertainment, Foursquare is now being for newsgathering and investigative journalism. Foursquare is easily the most popular location app – it just hit 6 million users (after reaching 3 million users just this summer) – but it doesn’t have a monopoly on the check-in. You can check in to¬†what books you’re reading, how many miles you’ve run, what beers you’re drinking … just about anything! What ways do you see to incorporate the idea of the check-in with the future of journalism?

Last, but surely not least, check out this important video on the art of checking in:


I am truly sorry about that.

Read & Respond posts are due as comments to this post no later than noon, Monday, February 7.