This week, co-host Bryan Person joins Jen Zingsheim to discuss whether Twitter (and social tools in general) make us stupid, how mainstream media content providers are responding to content curation, and a new law that requires the government to use plain, easy-to-understand language.
This week’s show is 27 minutes in length.
- First, Bryan and Jen discuss two posts by Mathew Ingram of GigaOm. The first post, titled “News Flash: Twitter doesn’t make you smart or stupid” links to a piece posted a day before by Ingram, which examines why newspapers are so reluctant to link out to other sites. Bryan notes that he agrees with Ingram, that tools are not to blame for our ever-shrinking attention spans. Jen points out that she believes we are losing our ability to carve out time for reflection, noting that she has trouble setting aside her compulsion to check her smartphone during time off. Bryan notes that this is just a result of an increase in the overall number of distractions, and that we then need to work harder to “clear the deck,” so to speak. The two also discuss the reluctance of newspapers to link out–Jen mentions that this was a topic very early on in the Roundtable, back when there were platform issues that didn’t allow links. Bryan notes that it has been years since he was told that was one of the reasons preventing links, and that there has been plenty of time to adjust this. He also notes that it’s more likely an issue of not wanting to send people away from content, lest they not find their way back–however ludicrous that might sound.
- Next, the two discuss a piece by Steve Rubel that also covers a type of insecurity demonstrated by mainstream media sources: the proliferation of content curation applications. Bryan makes a point of defining an aggregator versus a content curator–an important distinction. Content curated by an individual has a layer of intelligence built in, a reason for moving a story up or down, whereas aggregators are driven solely by complex algorithms. Bryan further notes that the automated algorithms that are associated with many apps are not “smart” enough for him…yet. Jen notes that Rubel’s piece mentions several content providers that are taking a “carrot” rather than “stick” approach by working out deals with apps such as Flipboard. This is perhaps the way to go, rather than litigation, which has been the choice of some.
- Finally, the two wrap up with a funny, but true, new law that requires the federal government to communicate in plain language. Within five seconds, Jen uses one of the suggested-to-be-banished words, “promulgate.” They both agree this is a good idea, but wonder how hard it is going to be for those who have written these documents to re-learn how to write simply. Jen suggests maybe this is a full employment program for communicators, perhaps they can assist.