Interesting article from OJR, Social networks: All around the Net, but underused by news sites, which points out how little “networking” is going on on news sites, and how some firms (most recently, Washington Post’s experiment with Tribe.Net) are starting to put their toes in the water:
‘The question is … is it already too late? Content distribution is gravitating toward feeds, and feed readers are integrating social networking. Newspaper sites might be able to integrate SN via FOAF, or similar open frameworks, but the likelihood of a consumer inviting 30 friends to a newspaper site seems … remote,’ said Gentile.
Right now, I have a feeling Gentile is right. ‘People who read this story also read … ‘. It doesn’t work for me. But there’s no reason why it shouldn’t.
Every subject under the sun has a history; likewise every subject under the sun has news. For dating, it’s the hot new singles bar; for cinema, it’s the latest releases and their reviews. Can’t newspapers develop as a node that taps into people’s desire to network, by sharing interests and information across all topics? Can newspapers open their pages to readers and seed the conversation with content they already produce? (see sidebar, some imaginative speculation).
Whether newspapers can effectively deploy social network technologies, and what effect they may have, are moot points. But according to Yahoo News’ Budde, one thing is sure:
‘Social networks are going to continue to evolve, and all the media need to pay attention to it.'”
I certainly don’t agree with that last point – the media need to do a lot more than “pay attention.” But also what this ignores is to what extent news media are already a factor in “social networking.” Look at the most popular links on Technorati – a great many of them are news stories. If you’ve got permanence and if your archive’s as open as possible, you’ve got a really good chance to be a big voice in the conversation inside a social network. You don’t need to create a network of your own to do that. The trick is reflecting that conversation inside your own pages; that’s the “new” thing that open protocols allow us to do. People have always discussed news at dinner parties; it doesn’t mean that newspapers need to organise their own dinner parties.
(Via Online Journalism Review.)