The social wire service

The Associated Press was impressed with itself that it got to see the CIA's social media analysis operation, sifting through 5 million tweets a day plus other media. The agency claims it uses this to predict news (though on Twitter, +Zeynep Tufekci brought proper skepticism to that boast).

It occurs to me that right there, under its nose, is a new strategy for a wire service. I tweeted that. Reuters' +Anthony De Rosa tried to argue that his service is already doing that because it has journalists. Nice try.

What we need to do is combine algorithms and humans to mine the news, knowledge, moods, and memes that are already flowing across the platforms the public is using.

The CIA is doing it. Marketers are doing it. Journalism should damned well be doing it, too. We have a new way to listen to what the world is saying but we're not taking advantage of the opportunity.

In #PublicParts, I quote +Jay Rosen paraphrasing the late James Carey: "The press does not 'inform' the public," Jay said in a book of essays on Carey. "It is 'the public' that ought to inform the press. The true subject matter of journalism is the conversation the public is having with itself."

So now is our opportunity to do just that. I see a new kind of wire service or, more likely a new startup that gives us windows into the public conversation.
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