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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

The value of new media

August 12th, 2010 by Susan Smith

Some time ago I was at a technology conference where journalists were seated in classroom seating, listening to a day’s worth of speakers. Next to me was a blogger/twitterer, one of the new breed of reporters who may or may not get paid for writing what they write about the technology industry.

We each had our notebook computers in front of us, and each of us were taking notes. He leaned over several times as he continued to type as I listened, and he asked, “what did he say?”

I didn’t want to stop listening to the speaker in order to tell him, so I whispered, I’ll tell you afterwards. I had notes on what the speaker had said, and was tempted to say, you can read my notes.

It turned out the young twitterer was tweeting while he was at the event, so he had to keep at it or else…or else what?

The event raised several questions for me: what is the value of twittering, how can you provide useful information to those following a tweet if you can’t stay tuned into the event you’re attending? And really, who is reading it? Wouldn’t they prefer to read something that has been considered, thought about, and edited so that the writer’s perceptions are clear and concise, rather than a stream-of-consciousness type of entry?

Recently I was following the progress of the Tevis Cup Endurance Ride held in Auburn, Calif. on Twitter. I loved looking at the tweets to hear who reached certain vet checks along the way, who had had accidents or had to be pulled from the ride. I’m sure that was useful to relatives at home who were glued to their screens, waiting to see if their loved ones had made it the next leg of the journey. There were also live charts that weren’t on Twitter to tell you when your rider had reached a vet check and when they had left.

Also, tweets while at conferences are extremely valuable, as they can offer updates on events that you might miss otherwise – a change of room number, a cancellation, a new event that you should attend, etc.

I know that some people enjoy getting tweets when they’re shopping, but as I’m not a big shopper, I haven’t plugged into that usage.

In those instances, and I’m sure there are many others, I see the new media as very useful. But I’m really concerned about tweeting about what is right in front of you at a conference, keeping a constant stream going, when you are really unable to multi-task unless you stop to listen to the speaker.

It would seem that perhaps blogging would be a better choice, save it for later, when you have had a chance to digest the content a little, and the importance of it.

At one conference I heard a participant say that today’s journalism is not about editing, it’s about just putting content out there, never mind the accuracy, that can be caught up with later.

For those of us who write and edit for a living, accuracy is of utmost importance. Thankfully, after a conference, we see a spike in readership to our newsletters, blogs, videos and our website in general — which signals me that professionals still want to hear the whole story, not in blips and blobs but in its entirety….so they can get a sense of the focus of the event and where it might lead in the future.

We’re starting to see books of blogs, such as Julie and Julia, made into a feature film, but will we also begin to see books of tweets?


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