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June 27 2011


Liquid Newsroom - Nearby and global in its impact. A look into the future of journalism.

Many people have stopped reading newspapers on a daily base. Circulation figures are on the decline worldwide. Don't worry. It is a declining interest in a content presentation form not in reading. Demand for stories is still high. While on the move many already prefer access to stories worth reading at the time they like and wherever they are. But the stickiness to a specific story brand, a specific publisher, is also likely to lose its strength. Highly connected and globally aware, people are open for changes, new reading experiments, and experiences. We are already living in the era of News3.0.

Liquid Newsroom :: a typical working day

A (near) future day - my smartphone is always on. Push services send me short little messages of breaking news to my little device making information available wherever I am and at any time of the day. The latest push notification tells me, without going into too much detail, that the dictator in the North African country has now been arrested. It is enough to catch my attention. My tablet in my pocket allows me to read the follow up on the news online while driving through a rural area in Southern Bavaria, Germany. So far it is only a ticker message without much more concrete information and more and more questions pop up. Who has confirmed the news? Are photos already available as visual evidence or video footage to support what I read before?

The story is *hot* enough for me to decide to open a Liquid Newsroom, a virtual on-demand environment for collaborative writing. I label the topic *Northern Africa* and set up the topical *room* for it on-demand and in real-time. I quickly check my social network of trusted news sources - people in the area of interest, Nothern Africa to see whether anyone can be reached and can provide me with details or material. When the new topic working space on the Liquid Newsroom platform is opened, a new portal front-end comes into existence, where readers connected to the Internet via PC or mobile devices can easily check in to stay informed. The Liquid Newsroom is not run by a publisher, it is an on-demand network for publishing news as a team that can vary over time, only conneted via the topic they like to address.

A first flow of information hits my virtual desktop in the *Northern Africa" newsroom. News sources have started to pick up the story. But now it is time to guide my readers through the growing stream of information and update it, analyzing the value added by each of the new stories coming in. I publish the information I have gathered almost immediately to the front-end to create a constant flow of what's new to readers who opt-in to the content stream e.g. subscribing to the feed via their smartphone devices. They do not stay in a passive mode. Some are concerned about what's happening and return questions via the integrated Q&A-button in their smartphone app. The questions from the readers connected to the topic stream provide a constant feedback in the editing and updating process. Together with real-time statistics (active views, reading, retweets, and the like) monitored on the screen as well, I decide which stories to follow up. In the meantime, friends working and living in the East and West Coast of the US have joined my *Nothern Africa* Liquid Newsroom to work on the stories as well.

I'm exhausted after hours of curating and am happy to pass the story lead on to these colleagues, knowing that they will pass it on in turn to Asian colleagues at the end of their day. In the virtual room we've already started to exchange thoughts via live chat, simultaneous editing of articles, and voice-over IP calls. Our discussion is interesting enough that we decide to make our editing process transparent on the corresponding website, so that readers can watch the process flow. It is time to relax and yes I know that after a few hours of sleep I will be back again.

Note: the platform is already in development. If you are interested please drop me a note and send me an email to steffen.konrath (at) im-boot.de

My article has been published in " I Read Where I Am. Exploring New Information Cultures." Compiled by Mieke Gerritzen, Geert Lovink, Minke Kampman. Graphic Design Museum, Breda Valiz, Amsterdam.

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