Back Stories & Social Currency

Libraries have often been associated with newspapers because of their traditional dependence on “pulp” as the delivery mechanism for their services and products. And although it’s easy to recognize the digital shift has changed this dramatically, the connection is still there … looming.

I guess that's why, I find this recent research study released by the Associated Press so intriguing. From my quick read through the 71 page report (it’s an easy read. Good job AP) two distinct points resonated with me.

  1. Need for in-depth back stories

    ”Participants in this study did show signs of largely shallow and erratic news consumption, however the study also suggested that people wanted more depth and were trying to find it…”

    ”Participants in the study consistently mentioned the importance of sports and entertainment news in their lives. People enjoyed their sports and entertainment
    news regardless of format, and it is worth noting that sports and entertainment news on TV borrow heavily from oldschool broadcast journalism formulas. Audiences get a series of updates and headlines balanced with in-depth back story, future story and editorializing.”

  2. News as social currency

    “Consumers are using news as social currency in a variety of ways: to stay connected with loved ones, to be the hub in their circle of friends, to advance in their careers and to engage with others they don’t know. Current technologies and globalization have led to changes in the value chain for news. Is it the news industry or consumers of news who produce social currency from news? Today, it is both. News is no longer simply delivered, in a one-way transaction, from producer to consumer. Communications are twoway, and news is widely shared among consumers themselves. Understanding the dynamics of this new environment and creating mechanisms to enable better search and sharing of news will harness the power of this emerging social currency system…"

These have me thinking a lot about ways libraries can help satisfy these information needs for our customers. Heaven knows we have volumes, tomes and even access to hundreds of exabytes of potential back story files. But are our current organizational structures (Dewey, MARC etc.) and search tool interfaces optimizable in their current formats to support these news and information needs? More directly stated… how can we help our customers fulfill their back story needs which in turn allow them to turn information into “social currency”?

Read the full report, A New Model for News: Studying the Deep Structure of Young-Adult News Consumption (pdf)

1 comment:

sowens said...

I find this interesting and maybe hopeful especially in the current reign of infotainment and virtual voyeurism in which we live. David Baldacci’s latest book, The Whole Truth, investigates the world of “Perception Management” where, “PMs are not spin doctors because they don’t spin facts. They create facts and then sell them to the world as truth”. (Author’s note.) This is interesting in that the waters of information have been so muddied by PMs, the Internet, wikis, blogs and the media all speaking as if they were the authority on things, that finding the truth may be near impossible. If people want to know background, or history of an issue, and are seeking depth, maybe it’s because they are tiring of being feed broth. They want truth (wonder if they can handle the truth). But seriously, the philosopher in me also wonders how we can archive data, and make it searchable in a fashion that keeps us out of sculpting or determining what info the searcher gets. How do we keep from being too helpful thereby interfering with the search process? I think AquaBrowser technology is a giant leap in the right direction, but even it does not cast a wide enough net.