Twitter and Journalism on the Grapevine

Just like many of you, I didn’t hear the news that Osama Bin Laden was killed from a TV channel, nor a news agency, nor an official institution, but Tweets bursting out from Twitter, Facebook/MSN IM networks, simply put from friends in a  “on the grapevine” fashion and within a time frame of about 3 hours after the first public source.

We are observing the evolution of journalism. Actually, I realize that I haven’t read a paper published newspaper for so long that I’m missing the joy of a journey between the pages of a newspaper on a sunday morning.

Lets check the numbers first… According to Twitter’s official announcement, tweets about Laden’s death broke the Sustained Tweet Rate record and reached 3000 tweets per second over 10:45pm – 2:20am period. After USA president Obama’s speech it tweet rates reached 5008 tweets per second. This rate can reach the average daily visits of New York Times online (~30million) in about 3 hours. The exponential spread and later the damping of the tweet rate can be noticed by the tsunami like shape in the figure. This quantitative growth raises qualitative concerns, as it is commonly seen that false news go viral on twitter, but 3000 tweets per second is a significant rate.


If we approach this emerging trend from the consumer behavior perspective, we consume “news” much like other goods, there are many analogies. After the industrial revolution, the era of mass production emerged, profit by mass production & sales of a single product. When Ford manufactured his first cars, the consumers didn’t used to have too many options, just like everybody used to read the same newspapers and watch the same tv channels in the early years of the media.

As the technical improvements evolved, and new production methods emerged, there was a paradigm shift in late 90’s to mass customization. To be honest, we are extremely spoiled. If we think of today’s extreme, you can buy your iPhone/iPad with the configuration you want and with your name laser-written on the back (Henry Ford would probably drown in tears, if he would experience this).

This nature of ours is apparent in all types of consumption. We want to have our own choices. When we read news, we want to compile our own configuration with the authors we prefer, fuse the knowledge we want to synthesize through RSS channels, and consume it through the interface we prefer.  Products for mass audiences simply don’t make the cut. Especially if news is considered, the time lag of conventional methods results in old news once it reaches to the customers. When establishing our corporate and personal identities, we cannot neglect these changes.

The digital world is by-passing the intermediaries and makes us come one more step closer to the source of everything, while a new era is shaping in front of our eyes.

– this post has been published in dijitolog

Facebook Town-hall Meeting

Facebook hosted an online, live townhall meeting with USA president Obama in Palo Alto headquarters. This event was very important for both Facebook and Obama. From the day he was elected, presidents poll results indicated decline. For the re-election campaign the utilization of Facebook platform is a significant move as it features over 155 million users in USA with 62% under the age 35. Even people in my network who devotedly supported “Obama for Change” campaign are far from the excitement in 2008.

Although it was not covered in the video published, Zuckenberg greeted the USA president Obama, referring to 19 million followers on his Facebook page, “Welcome home president”. The opening speech of the president explains the rationale of this meeting very well:

The main reason we wanted to do this is, first of all, because more and more people, especially young people, are getting their information through different media.  And obviously what all of you have built together is helping to revolutionize how people get information, how they process information, how they’re connecting with each other.

And historically, part of what makes for a healthy democracy, what is good politics, is when you’ve got citizens who are informed, who are engaged.  And what Facebookallows us to do is make sure this isn’t just a one-way conversation; makes sure that not only am I speaking to you but you’re also speaking back and we’re in a conversation, were in a dialogue.

And historically, part of what makes for a healthy democracy, what is good politics, is when you’ve got citizens who are informed, who are engaged.  And what Facebookallows us to do is make sure this isn’t just a one-way conversation; makes sure that not only am I speaking to you but you’re also speaking back and we’re in a conversation, were in a dialogue.

And really Obama continued with a warm tone to address questions ranging from economy to immigration, education, health care, partly picked from the web, partly from the Facebook employees among the crowd.

From Facebook’s perspective, the largest social network did the first move hosting this dialogue to bridge the internet with the world of politics, definitely adding to its brand value. Different than the conventional media, Facebook audience interacted over the web and become a contributor of this town-hall. Thinking of internet as a factor democratizing the world (literally), social networks such as Facebook, abstracting and virtualizing our identity promise a great potential. Just to give an idea, think of virtualizing elections or referendums, where people can very efficiently represent themselves with an e-government social network infrastructure.

This is a new era. Just like the corporate firms are one step closer to their customers with the social media, the politicians are reaching their voters through Facebook, Twitter, Youtube much faster. As a leader very well connected to the social media, we will see if Obama can prevail again in the 2012 elections adding new “friends”.

– this post has been published in dijitolog

ARIyorum – ITU Newspaper

Once upon a time, I received a call from a very close friend regarding a meeting for the formation a of new organization.


project file cover - ariyorum

When I got there, we were a small number of anxious, activist people at the verge of a new initiative, a student newspaper organization as the consolidated voice of the campus, which did not exist until then. This exciting idea triggered our commitment, as a great chance to get involved, observe, contact, express, act and change.

The challenges were multi-fold. In theory, the content was the easiest to compile, as everyone was willing to participate given the channel was available. At first glance, the funding required for the press was the biggest challenge as expected in a student project.

In order to reflect the spirit of a real newspaper, we decided to go for hard-copies. Sponsorships, advertisements were essentially required to gear everything up. The newspaper had to be free to claim the voice of a public university campus. The press, the distribution, the logistics…

Furthermore besides the technical difficulties, we agreed to direct this project to be officially recognized by the university. This required the participation of the official school delegation, which added a layer of complexity above all other difficulties.

ARIyorum - Cover

Once we progressed, sleepless nights to compile the content, finish an initial layout prepared in MS Word (my signature 🙂 ), we understood that the situation is even harder than we thought it would be. Conflicts within the team making the decision making hard, low quality of the articles (as expected from amateur authors), the moderation of the school delegation created issues of even the non-technical aspects.

It took us one year to publish the first copy in Jan 2005. With time and with reputation the team converged to a productive state, where it started regenerate itself with members joining/leaving (such as myself 🙂 ).

The realization and continuity of such a large scale project is a huge success. Credits definitely has to be given to the initiator of the project, my friend Fatih Avci, who has been significantly involved with the project since the first day.

This project definitely contributed a lot to me. The surviving the initial dip with baby steps, coordination of team-work …

And I am glad that it became a tradition today and I’ve had my share in that.

Looking to the future, I truly believe that this act has to evolve to a form to benefit from the concept of social media. With the emerging era of e-collaboration, this effort can be brought to a completely new and unique level.