Monday, October 13, 2008

A little bit of social media history happened today

The more time I spend on this planet, the more I'm fascinated by human behaviour, the more I enjoy seeing the norms being challenged, the more I'm interested in how real people engage with and use technology. And I got a cup of that this morning.

There was a social media coup this morning over at Thomson Reuters in London. The Prime Minister was coming in for a press conference to discuss the measures the Government is taking to ease our current UK and global financial situation. Of course the usual suspects were there - kosher journos from The Guardian, Telegraph, City AM, BBC et al. But in amongst them were two of our own - Mike Atherton and Christian Payne aka Sizemore and Documentally. Both of them are regulars at the Tuttle Club. Both are very experienced in writing, filming, photography, blogging, vlogging, lifesstreaming and other bits of social media. But they're not journalists. They're not political analysts. They're just ordinary folk like you and me who happen to have an interest in this social media mullarkey. And they were there, in the front row, courtesy of Thomson Reuters, live streaming the event, with live chat on the side via Qik and Twitter.

You might say, 'so what?'. And I suspect you wouldn't be alone. Well the 'so what' element for me is that the powers that be recognised alternative media. They realise that blog distribution helps them reach the parts that other media doesn't. It means that I actually listened in to the press conference live. And it was even better because I could see the live chat going on alongside on Qik and Twitter. It was also fun to see how excited Mike and Christian were to be involved.

It makes this stuff real for normal folk. It's not about the City's suited and booted. It's not about having a press pass. It's not about being a political analyst or being in the inner circle. It's about being there, from the comfort of your own home, with your friends (and a lot of my friends were twittering about it and I expect are also blogging it as I write and you read).

Ok, so a lot of the questions were above my head (I was suffering from Continuous Partial Attention as usual - but that's another story) but it did mean I could tune in very easily. It didn't need fancy cameras (I watched a lot of it from Christian's Qik channel which was from his mobile phone I hasten to add), and it didn't need the BBC to broadcast it either. Thomson Reuters own video was much better quality in terms of production values but the Qik was definitely good enough for me.

It was also good to know that Downing Street's PR team was paying attention too. A friend who works with them told me the team was watching with interest.

I guess the interesting thing now is to see how this activity has galvanised the community in some way. Yes, of course conversations are important and news coverage seems to specifically encourage conversations. But conversations are just part of the story. As they say, talk is cheap. I would add that community is what you really want to galvanise. And I felt a little bit of that today. The community where I hang out were tuning in and chatting about what the Prime Minister was actually saying and doing our work at the same time and chatting with each other (you see, it's that Continuous Partial Attention thing again - I wonder if that means the PM should use shorter words and sentences or something?). And it felt really good to be part of it.

Well done Ilicco, Christian and Mike. Your community is proud of you.

More about it here and here.