Thursday, February 12, 2009

New Communications

Will Leitch, in his February 16th New York Magazine article, “How Tweet It Is”, brings up a point that has been on my mind all week, despite having only gotten around to reading his story today.

I once watched a Cardinals game with him as part of the New York City Cardinals’ Fan Club, so I feel comfortable calling him Will, not Mr. Leitch, as I write this.

Will’s story sums up corporate culture at Twitter, gives the 30 second elevator speech on what Twitter is, and then asks whether we’re ready, as a culture, to adopt the concept behind twitter as the new wave of communication.

In short, Will asks if we’re ready to adopt a “New Communication” that will mean no more old-fashioned news rooms, no more delays from the time news happens to the time publications release stories, and more free, real-time, peer-to-peer information exchange.

Will uses the Flight 1549 crash into the Hudson River as an example, because the story wasn’t broken by a print newspaper or by any major publication online. It was broken by one man who happened to see the plane crash into the river, pull out his camera, TwitPic the crash, and then tweet about it.

The fact of that matter is that this story didn’t wait for a newsroom editor to send a reporter out to cover the story, then burn midnight oil to edit the story for release in the morning paper. This story broke in real time, which brings me to the thing I’ve been thinking about this week in my own organization:

In a world where news breaks so quickly, and in such raw form, how relevant are our traditional practices of writing and editing press releases before disseminating information at times deemed institutionally appropriate?

The more tightly institutions hold onto information, the deeper they’ll be slitting their own wrists in the long run. Organizations must find betters balances between the way information has traditionally been controlled and released, and the way that new audiences seek to engage with that information.

The days of two-page, perfectly edited press releases may not be over quite yet, but they are certainly numbered. The sooner non-profits recognize and adapt to these change in immediacy and informality of New Communications, the further towards the front of the field they’ll remain.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Meaning of Distance and Geography

I don't aim for personal reflection in this blog (that's what diaries are for), but my next step professionally is going to mean a big change personally; a move from Brooklyn, New York to rural Southeast Missouri.

Put another way, I'll be moving from one of the most densely populated cities on the planet - and a city that's recognized largely as the epicenter of both art and business in the United States - to take a job on a 5,000 acre YMCA twelve miles outside of a town of 2,500.

...Take a moment to digest that...

Yep, you read right; I'm leaving New York for 5,000 acres of woodland in Southeast Missouri, and I'm doing it in two weeks.

I'll soon be breathing fresh air, seeing the stars at night, and walking without bumping into anyone. I'll be running trails after work at night, and renovating a turn of the century house with my dad on the weekends. Life, I think, will be good.

The New Yorkers among you, from my experience, just had two almost simultaneous reactions; your eyes flickered with envy for just a moment before your eyebrows raised in skepticism.

For the most part, I'm right there with you; in one moment I can't wait to start my new life, and in the next, I find myself clutching my latte, my metrocard, and my NY Times in horror that I've chosen this fate for myself.

All of that said, I'm intensely interested in social media, and how traditional geography is changing in an increasingly digitally communicative world. Is it possible for me to have the best of country life and city life without being able to afford an apartment in the city and a house in the country?

Is it possible that twitter, blogging, Facebook, flickr, and the occasional weekend of crashing on New York couches will be enough to sustain my need for the city when I'm living in the rural midwest?

I don't know the answers to these questions, but I'm about to find out. Stay tuned here and follow me on twitter (@MilliGFunk) to see how this little adventure pans out.