“Democratization of information”

Last month I –like many others– made note of Janis Krums being among the first to report (on his Twitter feed) that an airliner had crash landed in the Hudson River. Will Leitch was in the SF offices of Twitter, working on an article for New York Magazine, as the story was breaking.

“In the midst of chaos—a plane just crashed right in front of him!—Krums’s first instinct was to take a picture and load it to the web. There was nothing capitalistic or altruistic about it. Something amazing happened, and without thinking, he sent it out to the world. And let’s say he hadn’t. Let’s say he took this incredible photo—a photo any journalist would send to the Pulitzer board—and decided to sell it, said he was hanging onto it for the highest bidder. He would have been vilified by bloggers and Twitterers alike. His is a culture of sharing information. This is the culture Twitter is counting on. Whatever your thoughts on its ability to exist outside the collapsing economy or its inability (so far) to put a price tag on its services, that’s a real thing. That’s the instinct Stone was talking about. If the nation has tens of millions of people like Krums, that’s a phenomenon. That’s what Twitter is waiting for.”

I’ve given up trying to explain the phenomenon that Twitter has become but can’t help take note of the examples that pop up almost every day.

@angelawilson does freelance work for us and works from her home. Today she had The Price is Right on (“just for background”) and one of the ladies picked to be a contestant was part of a group of women wearing shirts with their Twitter names on the front (mine is @smaysdotcom). Host Drew Cary had to explain to the studio and viewing audience what Twitter was. I hope that shows up on YouTube because I’d really like to see it.

And then this afternoon I learned (from the Twitter feed of St. Louis Post-Dispatch Reporter Tony Messenger) that some kind of big “nuke hearing” was getting ready to start in the Senate. And that there was so much interest the hearing room was so packed they had to set up closed circuit TV monitors in a room on the third floor.

I followed Tony’s Twitter feed for a bit, where I learned that one of the senators (Jolie Justus) on the committee holding the hearing, was also using Twitter to let her “followers” know what was going on. You can check out her “tweets” (you should pardon the expression) at http://twitter.com/joliejustus. Where she assured us she’d tell us more about the four hour hearing tomorrow on her blog, Fresh Meat (she’s a freshman senator?).

What does all of this mean? I’m not sure I know. Does it mean something? Yeah, I’m pretty sure it does. As Twitter co-founder Ev Williams says in the NY mag piece:

“It’s another step toward the democratization of information. I’ve come to really believe that if you make it easier for people to share information, more good things happen.”

Me too.

UPDATE: Sen. Justus started her blog as a Freshman Senator two years ago. [Thanks, JW]

3 thoughts on ““Democratization of information”

  1. Aah, so through the democratization of information, we can read what complete strangers had for breakfast (and other banal tripe). Really !

  2. I for one am loving Senator Justus’ tweets from the State Senate. She Gets It!
    not to mention Senator McCaskill tweeting from Washington about the Stimulus Bill and the MU game last night.

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