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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.

June 02 2011


You can only really follow 150 people on Twitter? Yes, if you "listen" to the newsstream

Time :: A team of researchers at Indiana University took a look at over 380 million tweets to find patterns in user behavior, the researchers concluded that there was a finite limit to the number of other Twitter users we could follow before becoming overwhelmed: somewhere between 100 and 200.

Does that makes sense? - Seems that even Facebook recently adopted similar findings, limiting your newsfeed to a more manageable 250 friends.

"You can only really follow 150 people on Twitter" - I disagree to some degree. It is possible to follow a much higher number of people if you use Twitter as a newsstream and not for point-to-point communication. For sure it is not possible to maintain quality relationships with all of them (and all my followers as well). But the more fascinating idea for me and the Liquid Newsroom research is, how we can filter the information stream to find the most relevant. I'm searching for a "breaking news" pattern, an identification signal long before a tweet is recognized as breaking by mainstream media. I call it "weak signals" theory.

Continue to read Chris Gayomali, techland.time.com

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September 24 2010


'Liquid Newsroom' Project Developed with Radical Openness

People often think it's best to hide their good ideas and develop them in secret. The goal is to beat the competition by emerging only once your concept is fully developed and ready to go. This can be the case with a new business, or a piece of journalism.

At the moment, though, people seem intrigued by the opposite approach. They say from the outset what they're trying to do. They use social media to think about and discuss the idea out in the open. They encourage other people join in and, in doing so, help create something new and daring, something that couldn't have been developed in secret solitude.

Liquidnews, or the Liquid Newsroom, is an emerging news project that's all about the above strategy, radical openness. I found out about the project on Twitter via the #liquidnews hashtag. It's where a group of people, many of whom are journalists, discuss a project for a "liquid" or a "virtual" newsroom. They talk about what a Liquid Newsroom could be, about the business model, and the technological platform necessary make it happen. They exchange tweets such as this one from Steffen Konrath: "Currently exploring ways to add Sparkbox (@tonihopponen) & Clp.ly (@Kinanda) to the Liquid Newsroom project #liquidnews."

Often, the tweets consist of reaction to posts published on Konrath's blog, Future of Journalism - News 3.0. Konrath's day job is director of web applications at Verlag moderne industrie GmbH in Munich, Germany, and the Liquid Newsroom is his project.

On September 1, Konrath published a Liquid Newsroom Manifesto on his blog, which reads like a proposal for a kind of postmodern virtual enterprise. In his model, the relationship between the "outside" and the "inside" of a company changes fundamentally. For instance, he writes, that in this newsroom "the content is triggered by events and interest of the people, and not by the purpose of keeping a company alive."

Or this: The "Liquid Newsroom is first a concept model for a specific type of (news) content representation and collaboration. The concept model needs a technical platform to come into existence. (curative journalism)."

All this was intriguing enough to lead me to conduct a Q&A with Konrath via Skype. An edited version of our conversation is below.


steffen konrath xing.jpgSteffen, could you tell us something about your background?

Steffen Konrath: I've a background in computer sciences, IT and marketing. But also in mime and acting, which is quite an asset for telling stories.

What is the Liquidnews project about?

Konrath: Well, look at it as a platform where people can collaborate. I use the notion of Yentity: the "Y" symbolizes different, sometimes even opposing, streams and perspectives which merge into one curated stream. The "entity" can be considered as an atom of news, part of the stream. It is important that the stream is curated by a human being.

But who are the content creators?

Konrath: Even though traditional media will not disappear overnight, they will no longer play such a big role anymore. There is a lot of information and expert opinions on individual media such as blogs. The liquid newsroom could help to gather all that dispersed information.

So this implies that you'll need a technological platform?

Konrath: Exactly. We're reaching out to various other companies and persons [who have] experience with this. The platform must enable the curated merging of the streams, but must also be open. The communities involved should be able to see what the raw content stream is, what the curators do, what community members select. The news will be published on several portals.

Which communities will those portals target? In other words, what will they cover?

Konrath: [Showing slides via Skype] See that square in Munich? One could imagine hyper-local daily coverage of that neighborhood. Or one could launch an international coverage of a very specific subject. What is important is that the portals have a strong focus, in order to mobilize communities of interest and in order to generate revenues.

You are suggesting several possible revenue streams on your blog.

Konrath: Yes, I'm heavily in favor of a fair pay. The focus of the portals will be important. We've had the discussion on the blog and on Twitter about the business model, and now I even get help from students from a Munich business school.

It's remarkable how this project, which is still very early phase, is discussed on Twitter, on blogs. Aren't you afraid that some competitor will steal your ideas?

Konrath: There is too much preoccupation with protecting property rights. That makes collaboration more difficult, when what is really needed in today's world is just that -- collaboration. That being said, we'll have to avoid [having] the platform appropriated and licensed by other companies, which would block the innovation. So we'll have to look into this.

Speaking of competition, how do you see the relationship with traditional media companies?

Konrath: First of all, blogs do exist already, but no, there is no antagonism towards traditional media. Platforms such as Liquidnews will help traditional media to focus on their strong points. One could consider the portals of Liquidnews as pilot fishes.

Entrepreneurial Journalism

I don't know whether the Liquid Newsroom project will succeed in becoming a promising start-up. What is interesting, though, is the openness that's at the core of the project. If it succeeds, we'll be able to study its every step on the road to success. If it fails, we'll be able to study why and where it went wrong. The result? An even more vibrant and sophisticated new media landscape.

Visiting Konrath's blog and reading the #liquidnews feed, you see that many questions are without a final answer. People offer related blog posts, make suggestions, and offer names of platforms for aggregating and curating news streams. It's a process, a kind of open school for media entrepreneurs. And in the end, I think that all journalists, regardless of where they work, should consider themselves entrepreneurs.

Roland Legrand is in charge of Internet and new media at Mediafin, the publisher of leading Belgian business newspapers De Tijd and L'Echo. He studied applied economics and philosophy. After a brief teaching experience, he became a financial journalist working for the Belgian wire service Belga and subsequently for Mediafin. He works in Brussels, and lives in Antwerp with his wife Liesbeth.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

August 26 2010


Journalist invites others to join in with ‘liquid newsroom’ idea

German journalist Steffen Konrath has called on fellow journalists to help him revolutionise the way journalists interact with news over the internet.

Konrath, a web applications director from Munich, is busy building what he calls a ‘liquid newsroom’, for which he aims to gather journalists from all over the world to simultaneously tackle items in the news.

Konrath said: “A Liquid Newsroom would challenge the restrictions of space and organizational form. Instead of a given organisational type, the news site will come into existence from the time someone decides to open a topic.”

I would like to start an experiment with my readers & Twitter followers to start an open innovation project on a global level to develop such a concept using social media tools and simply our connectedness.

Full post at this link

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