Here is a very rough look at how a storystreaming platform could be used to make sense of the confusing flood of information coming out of social media streams. To keep thing simple, the mockup only shows how Twitter sources might work. The final implementation would take information from many different sources. Make sure to click on the image to see the full-sized version.
The stream management system is shown on the left, and one possible version of a “published” storystream is on the right. Here is a quick explanation of the stream management system.
The main feed will be a stream of tweets based on a Twitter search. But instead of showing the raw feed of tweets, it would try to increase the signal-to-noise ratio with these features:
- Repeated messages will not show in the top pane, instead, they’ll show once in the bottom pane shows, along with the number of times they have been retweeted. Each item could be expanded to show all RTs of that message
- Individual users (spammers an unreliable sources) can be removed from the timeline
- Users with interesting content can be selected for highlighting, making it easier to spot their tweets.
- Users or individual tweets can be moved to the filter, holding bin or live stream
Individuals who aren’t tweeting exclusively about the event being covered — but have been identified as reliable sources, or at scene of an event — can be moved over to this filtered stream so the curator/editor can pick only relevant tweets to push to the live storystream.
The holding bin is where questionable tweets go for further investigation and verification when time permits.
At anytime along the curating process, tweets can be sent directly to the live storystream. Users can also be tagged to appear immediately in the story, without any intermediate editing. The example I provide here shows only one idea about how a storystream could be presented. It takes a very article-based approach, but there are many other ways to approach this. But let’s leave that to a separate blog post.
One important missing component in this rushed example is the important storystream editor. The system will try to place tweets contextually into the story based on existing content. Invariably, the system will get things wrong. The editor will need to have a powerful tool to let them move components around, tie elements together, and insert text and other information to provide context and make it easy for the reader to understand what is going on.
Again, this is a very rough sketch, but please do leave comments to share you ideas on how a storystream should be presented and managed, or just to let me know if you think there is no future for social media in journalism.