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Bob Britten
Works at West Virginia University
Attended University of Missouri–Columbia
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Bob Britten

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Introducing my dataviz class to Google+ and having them circle me (and +Derek Willis). It's the only way I get followers.
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Hi all. Just confirming we're all connected in advance of Jon's defense tomorrow at 1130 EST. If you've never used G+ hangouts before, please give it a dry run to confirm it works on your computer/browser. I've used it twice for defenses, and it has gone fairly smoothly.

Jon will create the hangout and invite us all (John, Mary Kay and I still need to decide whether we'll be using multiple screens or just a single one). Once we've asked all our questions, Jon will leave and we'll discuss, then he'll return and we'll inform him of our decision.

Please let me know, via G+ or email, if you have questions.
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It's a little annoying seeing Giffords' first vote used as a feel-good smokescreen in so many accounts of this debt ceiling vote.
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As I said on Twitter "Aaron Sorkin would've had Giffords return to cast the deciding vote on a restrictive automatic weapons bill, not a crappy budget gutter."
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New blog post: Using Twitter in hyperlocal news beats: How it works at the Oregonian http://wp.me/p1hWE2-V
Hyperlocality in the newsroom: The Twitter beat. July 28, 2011. by aaaaaargh. Here's a simple question for organizations attempting to incorporate Twitter (or other social media) into beat-based r...
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Elliot Njus's profile photoBob Britten's profile photoAlexandra Manzano's profile photoJackie Borchardt's profile photo
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Thanks +Elliot Njus and +Alexandra Manzano for the follow-up. I agree beat accounts provide continuity and allow people to follow specific news on Twitter. And I like that you're making it a focus in your newsroom. We're so small at the Star-Tribune that I've volunteered to teach social media stuffs on more than a dozen occasions.

But I also think they risk being inauthentic. I follow a reporter with professional and personal (protected) accounts and the tweets are so different you'd think they were two separate people. In some cases, the personal account tweets an observation that would enhance the professional feed. In other cases, the personal account tweets something so contradictory to the professional account that it feels disingenuous.

But that's probably more of a problem with the reporter just highlighted by the tweets.

And not everyone wants to be so personal in such a public way (journalists included!) and I can think of a few of my coworkers who would probably feel more comfortable tweeting from a beat handle.
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We're about to try +Rachel Davis's master's student defense via Hangout. If we can get all four committee members up and running, it should be interesting.
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Jeremy - I had to turn my computer ON first. Silly me.
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I really like this +Jeff Jarvis analysis of the nature of hashtags. I disagreed with the +Adrian Holovaty "Crash Tags" piece (http://www.holovaty.com/writing/crashtags/), but wasn't sure why; this sums it up.
Jeff Jarvis originally shared:
 
The beauty of a hashtag is that no one can control it.

A hashtag is not like a marketing, media, or political message, whose creator thinks it can be created and controlled. It is not like the namespace in domains, on Facebook and Google+, or in trademarks, for anyone can use a hashtag without permission or payment. It's not like a dictionary with one definition. It's not like a word on an FCC list that prohibits or chills its use.

A hashtag is open and profoundly democratic. People gather around a hashtag. They salute it and spread it or ignore it and let it wither. They imbue it with their own meaning. The creator quickly and inevitably loses control of it.

That is what the #fuckyouwashington escapade has taught me: the power and importance of the hashtag as a platform. Hashtags allow us to gather around topics, events, and actions across platforms. Hashtags are in our control.

It's quaint that some folks lobbied to get me to change the hashtag, as if I controlled it. Some scolded me for not scolding Congress or the GOP or the Democrats or the White House. But what was fascinating about the #fuckyouwashington is how it brought out users' opinions -- rather than mine -- on why Washington is fucked up and by whom. Soon after the hashtag got out there, people starting tweeting "#fuckyouwashington for...", filling in their grievances.

Humorless Washingtonians got pissed at me for supposedly maligning their fair if stifling city. How inane.

Some wanted me to clean up the hashtag because it offended them. But as I tweeted in response, #dagnabbitwashington would not have had the same impact. It was the profanity about profane politics that made it take off, I believe.

No less than John Perry Barlow (@jpbarlow) and @anonyops tried to change the hashtag to better assure it could get past filters some suspect Twitter puts on its trending topics list. "The hashtag is now #FYW," they and others decreed. But they made the mistake of thinking they could control this any more than I could. I didn't much want the discussion to become forked, but I didn't have anything to say about it either.

By the way, some Twitter folks told Jeff Howe (@crowdsourcing) that Twitter doesn't filter the Trending list for naughty words. But then, as he points out, their protests don't explain how lesser tags made the list and #fuckyouwashington didn't.

I don't much care about the trending list in any case. It is a product of mass-media-think: Only the biggest win, goes that thinking. But online, even the biggest topics are small. Though I think Twitter should be transparent with its statistics, we don't need it to be, as Topsy, Trendsmap, and Trendistic can count for us. According to Topsy.com, by latest count, #fuckyouwashington produced 84k tweets. In mass-media audience terms, that's tiny. But then again, how many of those opinions would ever have made it into a letters-to-the-editor column in a newspaper? 84k opinions got expressed and seen by some untold community thanks to the coalescing power of the hashtag.

We don't want an institution to hold our conversation hostage -- not media, not Twitter. Hashtags can free us from that fence. Through discussion around hashtags, we can hear the voice of the people, unmediated.

#fuckyouwashington got some attention in media -- but after the fact. Media are no longer needed to create critical mass. Indeed, appearances on CBS and NBC network news and on the sites of the Washington Post, Reuters, and even German papers didn't cause spikes in the usage of the hashtag, which is now pretty much petered-out.

Note that well: media now follow the public conversation. That's as it should be, according to scholar James Carey, via Jay Rosen, who explained his view: "The press does not ‘inform’ the public. 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.” That natural state of the relationship of media-to-public is made possible by the hashtag.

The hashtag was invented by Chris Messina only three years ago. So far, its power has been limited to Twitter. But I see an opportunity to expand its use and its empowerment the more it is supported on other platforms. When Google+ finally gets search and when it releases its API, it would be wonderful to see it enable users to easily enter tags and cluster conversations around them. There's an opportunity to use tag data to learn more about the topicality of conversations and content all around the net, on Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, blogs, Flickr, YouTube, maybe Facebook. There's our chance to limit the power of these silos.

All that from the humble hashtag.
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Helpful response to the naming/business/pick-your-favorite controversy on Google+, and a reminder that the Google people don't seem to be jerks (for the record, I think banning biz accounts is silly, but if you want to use a fake name you can go back to FB/MySpace - let's try to be who we are here).
Bradley Horowitz originally shared:
 
Last night, +Robert Scoble shared some information based on his conversation with +Vic Gundotra. That post (https://plus.google.com/111091089527727420853/posts/Fddn6rV8mBX) went a long way toward clearing the air, and we want to thank many of you for your feedback and support. I wanted to also more directly address some of what we’re learning and how we’re reacting to the feedback. Note that this isn’t a comprehensive “last word” on the topic that touches on every issue. On the contrary, it’s just some transparency and insight into a dialog that I expect will continue for a long time.

(It’s worth noting that in general we’ve only been discussing upcoming changes to Google+ as they are being released. In this case, we felt it would be helpful to signal to concerned parties “what’s coming.” This immediately begs the question of “When?!” And the answer is as soon as possible. We’ve already improved our process, and the changes below should arrive in a matter of weeks.)

We’ve noticed that many violations of the Google+ common name policy were in fact well-intentioned and inadvertent and for these users our process can be frustrating and disappointing. So we’re currently making a number of improvements to this process - specifically regarding how we notify these users that they’re not in compliance with Google+ policies and how we communicate the remedies available to them.

These include:

- Giving these users a warning and a chance to correct their name in advance of any suspension. (Of course whenever we review a profile, if we determine that the account is violating other policies like spam or abuse we’ll suspend the account immediately.)
- At time of this notice, a clear indication of how the user can edit their name to conform to our community standards (http://www.google.com/support/+/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1228271)
- Better expectation setting as to next steps and timeframes for users that are engaged in this process.

Second, we’re looking at ways to improve the signup process to reduce the likelihood that users get themselves into a state that will later result in review.

Third, We’ve noticed that some people are using their profile name to show-off nicknames, maiden names and personal descriptions. While the profile name doesn’t accommodate this, we want to support your friends finding you by these alternate names and give you a prominent way of displaying this info in Google+. Here are two features in particular that facilitate this kind of self-expression:

- If you add nicknames, maiden names, etc. to the "Other names" portion of your G+ profile, those with permission to view those fields can search for you using that term. For example: some of my colleagues call me "elatable," a pseudonym I’ve used on many services, so I've added it to my list of other names.

- The "Employment," “Occupation” and “Education” fields in your profile can appear in your hovercard all across Google+ -- to those with permission to view them. This also helps other users find and identify you. In my case "Google+" appears in my hovercard (see screenshot), but I'm already seeing lots of creative uses of this real estate.

These and many more changes are coming. We’re flattered and appreciative of your support and interest. I assure you, teams of passionate individuals are pouring their talents and care into making this a great experience for you. Thank you again.

Finally, I wanted to debunk a few myths I’ve seen circulating.

MYTH: Google doesn’t care about ____. (businesses, teenagers, organizations, pseudonymous usage, disadvantaged populations, etc.)

We aspire to having great solutions for these (and many more) use cases. While this may appear as easy as the stroke of a policy pen (“Just let the businesses in!”), we think we can do better. We’re designing features for different use cases that we think will make a better product experience both for them and for everyone else. Please don’t misconstrue the product as it exists today (< 4 weeks since entering Field Trial) as the “end state.” We’re flattered that there’s so much passion and interest... and will continue to improve the product and innovate in ways that will hopefully surprise and delight.

MYTH: Not abiding by the Google+ common name policy can lead to wholesale suspension of one’s entire Google account.

When an account is suspended for violating the Google+ common name standards, access to Gmail or other products that don’t require a Google+ profile are not removed. Please help get the word out: if your Google+ Profile is suspended for not using a common name, you won't be able to use Google services that require a Google+ Profile, but you'll still be able to use Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Blogger, and so on. (Of course there are other Google-wide policies (e.g. egregious spamming, illegal activity, etc) that do apply to all Google products, and violations of these policies could in fact lead to a Google-wide suspension.)

We'll keep working to get better, and we appreciate the feedback-- and the passion --that Google+ has generated.
I talked with Google VP +<a href="https://plus.google.com/107117483540235115863"…
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I have, thanks to your original re-post and its links. I think there are a number of valid points there, but I also think there's been tremendous damage done by anonymity in a variety of ways. So much of online discussion becomes a mudhole, often within a matter of minutes. Democracy and free expression should surely be a dirty process, but there should also be a better return on that investment than we tend to see.

Part of my distaste surely comes from a feeling of weariness, but it also stems from the newness of this platform. It is so difficult to grind back anonymity on an existing medium, no matter how well-intentioned the effort. I'd like to see real names get a fair shake from the get-go here. I realize this means giving up protections for a potentially vulnerable few, but it also means giving this new project a chance to become something better than what's gone before.
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Bob Britten

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Wait, so #hashtags work in Google+ now?
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Thanks Matt. Shows what happens when I stop checking this.
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"The very nature of weibo [Chinese microblog] posts, which spread faster than censors can react, makes weibos beyond easy control:" http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/29/world/asia/29china.htm?_r=1
China’s major Twitter-like microblogs posted an astounding 26 million messages on the crash, a potent amalgam of contempt, suspicion and shoe-leather journalism.
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Here's a screenshot from our graduate student defense via Hangout this morning. I think it worked really well (with the exception of some "natural sound" at +Jess Troilo's Panera setting). Our participants were located in WV, PA, WA and OR, so some timing issues needed to be resolved, and +Rachel Davis had to test run the application with members individually. Front-end communication seems to be key to making these happen, at least at this early stage.

Committee members seemed to have ease logging in and determining when to talk, and the chat window provided a nice place to note key points, which the student was able to copy and paste to a text file for use. Overall, I'm really pleased with the mileage I'm getting out of this tool, and I think there's great potential academic (as well as journalistic) applications here.
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Agreed with the both of you. I got started on Google+ because it's kind of my job, and while I like it, the interest was mainly professional until I had to spend two weeks on the Left Coast. I've since used Hangouts and Huddle to talk with colleagues, committees, and family; it's been easy and functional for all parties involved, and that's what has sold me on the platform.
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Why breaking news should be mundane: David Wu gets the Web-first treatment (Oregonian project blog): http://wp.me/p1hWE2-L
David Wu gets the Web-first treatment. July 27, 2011. by aaaaaargh. If you only read the Oregonian, you would not have known until Wednesday morning that Oregon Rep. David Wu was going to resign. If y...
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Weird. But, yeah, a lot of the conversations I've had have addressed that traditional ideas of competition aren't really valid anymore because if you sit on a story (or lament it being late instead of getting on with the next installment), people are just gonna get their news elsewhere.
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Blogging from the Oregonian: Morning curation and the Web-first approach: http://wp.me/p1hWE2-F
Morning curation and the Web-first approach. July 22, 2011. by aaaaaargh. Part of the Oregonian's “Web-first” approach is a steady stream of posting. The main Twitter and Facebook accounts, which ...
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I'm enjoying reading about your experience there. We also learned the "don't ask yes or no questions on Facebook" after a couple of fails.
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Have him in circles
193 people
Amber Lofty's profile photo
Alison Bass's profile photo
Michael Fuhlhage's profile photo
Deborah Chapman's profile photo
Danny Dougherty's profile photo
Kelley Crowley's profile photo
Evan Moore's profile photo
Chris Maher (Wingate Columbia)'s profile photo
Matt Thompson's profile photo
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Occupation
I teach journalism.
Employment
  • West Virginia University
    Assistant Professor, 2008 - present
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Male
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Journalism prof, comic book geek, beer drinker
Introduction
You have found the correct Bob. There is no prize for this.
Education
  • University of Missouri–Columbia
    Journalism, 2004 - 2008
  • University of Missouri–Columbia
    Journalism, 2002 - 2004
  • Allegheny College
    English, 1996 - 2000