Capturables from Rebooting the News #10

Just arrived to the office. Lots of stuff I feel like unloading.

On my way here I listened to episode 10 of Rebooting the News. I think it was one of the best shows in the series so far (among the first 10, that is – I have some catching up to do).

Jay Rosen makes two very pertinent connections between the tech world and journalism. The first connection is about bug catching, a very common and appreciated practice in software development, but very under-utilized and unappreciated in journalism.

In software development, everyone acknowledges that you cannot ship a perfect product. There will always be bugs and users are actually thanked for pointing them out. In journalism however, the expectation is that journalist check and double-check before they publish, and then ship a "perfect" product. If a reader points out a mistake or contradiction, typically the journalist either doesn't respond at all, or responds in a defensive fashion. Jay explains it as tribalism.

Blogging seems to allow for a less defensive attitude. Blog posts are perceived as less finished or less perfect, and bloggers seem more willing to correct and update their copy, while acknowledging readers' feedback.

It's an interesting phenomenon to point out and certainly something that needs to be addressed in the "new news system".

The second connection Jay makes is about usability. Why are geeks not better at making things easy to use? Dave Winer says it's because it's so damn hard to do. And it requires a great sense of empathy – the ability to put oneself in the users' shoes. He mentions Martin Scorsese and Marlon Brando.

Jay sees a nice parallel in that journalism is about making it easy for users to user their own democracy, lowering barriers to participate without much prior knowledge. (This is so true and elegant!)

What else? The Church of the Savvy. That's Jay's description of the undeclared religion of the press. Above anything else, journalists will value, remain loyal to and defend their savvy-ness.

Jay's inspiration of the week is Elvis Costello's recording of Nick Lowe's classic, 'What's So Funny 'Bout Peace Love and Understanding'.

Note-to-self: action points:

  1. Check out Jay's tumblr blog – I didn't know he had one, and I was wondering why Google Reader hasn't served me any blog content from Jay lately (I've subscribed to PressThink);
  2. Check out blogtalkradio, which is what Dave is using for these podcasts. I need to figure out a way to produce podcasts easily and economically.

[REPEAT from June 1: Dave built a dedicated site for 'Rebooting the News', at http://rebootnews.com/. He also created an RSS feed of this podcast series, at http://rebootnews.com/rss.xml. And a package of the first ten episodes which he uploaded as a torrent to Mininova at http://www.mininova.org/tor/2637891. He announced all of this here: http://www.scripting.com/stories/2009/05/30/rebootingTheNews110.html]

And don't miss the FriendFeed room either!

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