First rough sketch of storystreaming platform, Twitter first

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.

Storyfilter storystreaming platform, Twitter-only mockup

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.

Pump

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

Filter

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.

Holding bin

The holding bin is where questionable tweets go for further investigation and verification when time permits.

Storystream

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.

Storystream editor

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.

Thoughts?

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.

12 thoughts on “First rough sketch of storystreaming platform, Twitter first

  1. The problem with having a transparent rules-based editing system is, once there's an editing system in place, and in wide use, people (I use the term loosely here) who are NOT interested in gathering accurate information, will try to game (or hoax) the system. Ironically, the chaos of Twitter is what protects it from being gamed or hoaxed successfully.

  2. I really like this.

    Photos: Would they just be linked to in the stream, or could they be filtered into a separate feed and put into a gallery of some kind? Would it be more efficient just to do that by hand?

    And yes, people will always try to game the system, but that's why there's someone editing and filtering the social media stream — the rules are loose enough for flexibility.

  3. This could be a pretty solid publishing environment. Fake postings can be filtered through, banned etc.
    The biggest problem would be stale topics not getting updated at all.

    • Thanks for the link. Yes, twazzup and friendfeed's real-time search are both examples of the "pump" that I describe.

      I hope to flesh out how human curation can be applied (using the poorly-named "filter" component listed above) to add value to that stream.

      I think another component is an overarching content management system to handle the display of streams on a home page and or section fronts … although that might just be the old-school talking. One could argue that the simple home page of twazzup is all that is needed now!

      • The simple homepage of Twazzup works if you want a search driven site. Chance are, you're gonna want to browse too.

        As far as UI goes: Total customization is the way I'd go. UI similar to Twazzup, but:
        • with the ability to add/move modules around.
        • ability to mix modules from different searches/categories. You can create one page that gives you all the news you care about.
        • The homepage could still be search-centric, but offers more than 2 curated topics. Imagine how many people would volunteer to be correspondents and/or curators for a local sports team!
        • The homepage should be geo-aware: offering you curated/trending news from your area if you want it.

        Alright. I'm sold. Anyone got the money to build this? 'Cause I want to be a part.

  4. You can use MediaTuner.com and create a LifeStream for people or a NewsStream for news, or a TopicStream for Topics.

    MediaTuner will create a Viral Player that contains Tweets, Photos, Videos, Live Video and Audio, all in a simple to create an embeddable Player.

    http://www.mediatuner.com

  5. Honestly, I do not see the value of twitter. I read one market research report that revealed that nearly half of all tweets was “unnecessary babble.” Only 9% had “pass-along value.” Perhaps only 4% was “news.” Okay, I am a senior citizen, but I get Instant Messaging. I get MySpace, FaceBook and Friendster. Heck, I even get an unexpected rap song, when the beat and melody are just suitable. But this SMS for the internet seems a bit too thinly clever — a bit too much fad and flash in the pan, for my tastes. Possibly there’s a Zen side for this. Anyone care to Enlighten me?

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