So why Twitter, who wants to hear about what the Editor had for breakfast?
This is the first in a series of posts designed to explain which technologies and ideas Redbrick is planning to use in the coming months, attempting to give you, the particpators some insight into what it is we want to achive and how you are an integral part of that.
It is a common complaint that people tweet ‘off to the shops’ or ‘just had cornflakes for breakfast’ and there is no doubt that this kind of ‘noise’ does exist in the Twitter stream. Yet the potential for being part of a powerful, but beautifully simple network far outweighs any of the possible downsides as far as ‘twitter noise’ goes. Through Twitter we can spread real time information about events that are happening, if a reporter is at a press conference then interested followers can get them to ask questions. Instantaneously we have transformed what would have been a one way transaction where the reporter would have written up their story; into a conversation involving the reporter, all the people following and whoever is answering the questions.
In the lead up to events taking place on campus – such as the Acorns fun run in October or the R.A. results night in December, information can be provided in both directions – by people taking part and by the Redbrick team looking to provide as much comprehensive coverage as possible.
The beauty of Twitter, is that when you ‘tweet’ your message is sent to your network, those who are interested can read it and follow up – maybe they follow a link, provide you with some information you did not already have or just repost the message so that others have the opportunity to discover what they have. Through such an ever expanding group of networks thousands of people can be informed of something with very little effort.
Redbrick sees Twitter as being a great tool for ensuring we maintain our relevance to the students – they can tell us which stories matter to them before we go to print, they can give us feedback
All of a Twitter
on what they like and what they don’t. – What Redbrick is looking for is to get the conversation started, journalism is no longer about proscribing to people what is news; what is important. There is no point covering something if people are not interested. Now that is not to say that a model where content is completely dictated by the readers would work, because it is a journalists responsibility to find the stories that people do not know about.
However we can definitely find a balance here – ensuring that we provide engaging and varied content catering to as many people in the university as possible. We also have the opportunity to connect with the students from Aston and BCU – we can discuss issues that matter to all students, such as the quality of education we receive or the hot topic at the moment – tuition fees - the point is we can be bigger than Birmingham and we can draw in a whole variety of opinion and knowledge.
The real time aspects of Twitter really excite us and we have a couple of project ideas that we are working on for the coming year – to give you a brief outline; we will be able to cover university sport better – tweeting updates and scorelines from the games we have reporters at. It will also allow us to provide away game coverage to some point – with people tweeting from the games and providing photos for the website.
The relaxed nature of the technology and the way it is used means that we can be informal, conversational and bring all 28.000 students at Birmingham (and 1000s more of the other students) into the news and reporting process. The more people involved and the better connected the network is overall (it really isn’t about size – rather it’s about good connections – quality) then the better all the ideas will work and the better the content will be that is created.
It can take people a while to ‘get’ Twitter and many people join, then leave, however I would suggest you give it a try, you don’t have to be on it 24/7 and you don’t have to follow people you are not interested in (although do follow us @redbrickpaper) – but you could find yourself learning about things you never knew – the point is it can be whatever you want it to be.
We hope that this post has given people some idea of how we envision the use of Twitter over the coming year – all comments and suggestions are welcome. Posts will follow on our use of other technologies and ideas that we have for next year.
Don’t forget to subscribe, you can also follow me at @petren