searching the social web: lesson outline for my city uni session tues

Tomorrow will be the second of the four lecture and workshop sessions I'm scheduled to deliver on the City University MA in International Journalism course during the 2008/9 academic year.

I've given plenty of one off lectures at universities in the past but I having to come up with four distinctly different – and hopefully interesting, engaging, intellectually challenging and memorable – topics for lectures, much less turning them into proper presentations, is a bit daunting. Add to to that the two one hour workshops, one for broadcast students and the other for print students, and we're talking at least two, and potentially three, hours of different content each time. That's a whopping 12 hours of social media goodness to come up with, format, and present to a group of MA level journalism students. Not easy.

For the last lecture I asked my twitter followers to help me hone in on the most important topics. I then pebble blasted the students with a broad tour of the social media landscape, focused on the things that I thought might be useful for journalists. This time, I'm going to focus on finding contacts, content and context online.

I. Blogs

II. Twitter:

III. Content Sharing:

IV. Reflection:

  • Virginia Tech
    • My live blogging of events as they unfolded
    • My follow-up post, where I started to ask difficult questions
    • Jeff Jarvis: "And so the key skills in a newsroom will not be to get reporters
      to the scene — that will come later, after the news happens — but to have antennae up to listen and find news reports as they happen, as people link to what’s happening.
      You can’t possibly have enough reporters, editors, producers to do that
      on your own. You need to have lots of friends who’ll alert you: When I
      put up a link here to something I find compelling — or even embed and
      broadcast it here, live — will I also alert CNN? I don’t know. Would
  • A warning about hoaxes
    • iReport on demise of Steve Jobs sends Apple stock price plumeting
    • Burning forest elk in Inverness hoax (Sky and Guardian used it in 2006 related to story in Dorset; CNN iReport in February 2008. According to my source [see link], "The picture was actually taken in 2000 in Bitterroot Forest, Montana, by a fire behaviour analyst called John McColgan."

And, finally, my first attempts at trying to use yahoo pipes to automate the searching, and some of the filtering, of social media content around breaking news. Also, check out Martin Belam's sport related stab at it.

If you have any links that you think would be useful, or advice I should pass on with relation to the above outline, please let me know. During the workshops I'm planning on having the students actually do some social media searching themselves and start aggregating it using xfruits and yahoo pipes.


  1. Thanks for the links – all very useful enhancements, I think, to the material I’d already provided. Any more?

  2. Hi Robin, first time posting, long time admirer. I admit I don’t read your place that much, but I did find it invaluable when first learning about astroturfing.
    I think the internet is rigged. There is next to no organic flow to posts being made on the so-called American netroots. I believe there are hordes of rightwingers posing as progressives making goofy posts with tons of disinfo.
    You mention the problem of hoaxes. That is going on concerning The Democratic Underground, Raw Story, and the BradBlog. This upper echelon, Republican, computer tech named Mike Connell died in a small airplane crash. There has been blatant astroturfing going on with people named Brad Friedman of BradBlog and Larisa Alexandrovna of RawStory. They are spreading the disinfo that Connell had been threatened by Karl Rove.
    These people and the hoax can be directly tied in with Brett Kimberlin, the Superway Bomber. Larisa has been caught lying about Kimberlin’s past. She has called him an ex-political prisoner who was exonerated. But he never was. He had also been found with Dept. of Defense insignia. Now who the heck can get those? Ever hear of cointelpro?
    My point is that the internet is as closed a shop as the television and print. As an amateur internet sleuth, I have come up with a number of stories. I’m trying to tell you that this is a story in itself, how the internet is being gamed on a major scale.
    People have short attention spans. Anyone with any independent thought is pushed off of the major forums. It feels like outright sock puppetry out there.
    It’s a scam. That’s the bottom line. Now if something like Netvocates and tons of other companies are known to fabricate, is it that crazy to think that the use of sock puppets for insidious, hidden agendas, i.e. manipulation of political processes on the internet, is prevalent?
    I’m telling you dude, it is a manipulated blogosphere you are dealing with. Netvocates and the Rendon Group were only the tip of the iceberg.
    This world is being played.

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