Twitter is a news service.
It’s been shaking intermittently on the Westside for a month now. And if you were here during the ’94 big one, and it was pretty big, let me tell you, you’re afraid.
We like to feel in control. But during a quake, we’re at the mercy of the world, there’s nothing we can do but hang on for the ride. And there’s no confidence, like at Disneyland or the ski area, that the government has tested the experience and no matter how fearful you might be, you’ll be o.k.
But when something happens in today’s world and you need to connect with other human beings, you need to know what’s going on, you need to have your anxiety assuaged, you don’t go to TV or radio or even the newspaper site, you go to Twitter.
Twitter got a bad rap. That’s where you went to find out about people farting and eating dinner, minutiae we just didn’t care about.
But that is untrue. Twitter is where you go to find out about what the mainstream media doesn’t report, immediately.
That’s the dirty little secret of the media, it’s limited. With sinking financials and ever fewer people working there, they only report what is pitched. It’s a veritable cornucopia of press releases. Old wave publicists pitching stories that most don’t care about. Along with some big time disasters everybody’s anointed as important.
Now stories break online and then cross over to the mainstream media.
And the mainstream media is not an independent reporter of reality, but gloms on to trends like a prepubescent follows a boy band. Kids get shot in Newtown and suddenly the mainstream media reports on every school and child shooting. And it’s not that there are more, just that the media is now reporting them. Is this any world to live in?
And the oldsters don’t get it. They pat themselves on the back and call themselves gatekeepers. But there are no gates, they were torn down years ago, when the Internet took hold and everybody got broadband. Just ask the music business. Trying to put its finger in the dike it was overrun by a rush of water before it realized it wasn’t a hole, but the whole damn wall had come down.
You don’t try to mold the future to your past, you adapt.
Streaming services are already putting a dent in piracy. But the RIAA’s disinformation campaign would have you believe otherwise. Innovative solutions are the way out, not a giant megaphone imploring everybody to return to the past.
Not that the titans of yore will be victorious in the future. Otherwise, we’d all be driving Oldsmobiles, and typing our missives to each other on Smith-Coronas.
Crowdsourcing not only works on Kickstarter, but in news too. Now we’ve got a reporter on every street corner, in every home, nothing goes unexperienced. And nobody’s interested in all of it, but in case we are, there’s a permanent record, a trail of information that we can pick through and decipher. Instead of a clueless reporter calling the usual suspects to spin the story, we’ve got citizens with no skin in the game calling it as they see it.
And maybe Twitter fails. Maybe we want more than 140 characters.
That’s not the point.
The point is something has changed. The public is now in charge of the story. You go to the people to learn what went on.
And this is good. Because the more facts the better.
And sure, it’s incomprehensible if you grew up in the old world of scarcity. But you’ve got to adapt, no one can read everything, no one can know everything, but you can know what you need to, there are no blackouts. And ignorance of trending subjects is no longer an excuse. He who knows most wins.
P.S. It shook, I e-mailed my girlfriend, I tweeted, I searched on Twitter to find out I was not alone, everybody else was shook up too. I no longer bother to turn on the TV, there’s no one there other than the talking heads, assuming it’s a news show, otherwise they just wait for someone to phone in the story so they can run a crawl, eons late. I went to the L.A. “Times” website, nothing, but on my Twitter feed people were weighing in with their experience. As for radio, it’s taken itself out of the loop, I’ve given up checking, I’m now all Twitter all the time for breaking news, just like kids have cut the cable cord and have gone to the Internet. You can deny the future, but it’s gonna happen anyway.