For this year’s first Knight News Challenge, we intend to harness the momentum from people thinking about and building networks. In the course of our work, we often come across proposals to “build a Facebook that connects X and Y.” We want to move away from that. There are a lot of vibrant networks and platforms, on- and off-line, that can be used to connect us with the news and information we need to make decisions about our lives. This challenge will not fund new networks. Rather, we’re asking you to describe ways you might use existing platforms to drive innovation in media and journalism.
John Bracken, Knight Foundation. Announcing the Knight News Challenge: Networks.
The News Challenge will be open for applications starting February 27 and close March 17. Info at the link above.
As people increasingly share stories, videos, and tips through their networks, they are no longer just news consumers but news producers. There’s even a neologism coined to describe the shift from passive consumer to active producer: “presumer.” It confers an added obligation to evaluate what amid the clutter is worth sending on.
Because it begins in homogeneity, a social network often quickly assumes a particular character - a culture, as we like to say these days - based on the people populating its early core networks and the way that they initially use the service. This foundational culture plays a crucial role in encouraging use and loyalty early on - it’s the magnet that holds everything together and pulls in new members. But if the foundational culture is too strong and too narrow it can end up limiting the eventual growth of the network. Magnets repel as well as attract. To succeed on a global scale, Facebook had to transform its early student culture to a more mainstream culture - it had to go from Shitfacebook to Straightfacebook. It has been very successful at that - it’s a heck of a lot easier to entice older people to a youth culture than to do the opposite - though in the long run its mature, increasingly white-bread culture may prove to be its Achilles heel. A hipper network could quickly siphon away Facebook’s younger members, leading to a network implosion of breathtaking magnitude.
Nicholas Carr, Rough Type. The G+ Spot.
Carr goes on to say that Google+’s specific appeal to the new media crowd is the secret to its early success. However, that same crowd is also creating G+’s originating culture which is too narrow and strong for the general public to latch on to.
In fact, Carr writes that the cultural identity emerging on G+ might repel most normal folk ‘cause who besides the crazies wants to talk media technology all the time?
Mobile devices, led by the iPad and Android phones and tablets, have overtaken computers on Wi-Fi networks. In 2010, Windows and Mac OS X accounted for 64% of devices that accessed Wi-Fi networks, while iOS accounted for 32% and Android was just 1%. A year later, iOS and Android now represent 58% of Wi-Fi devices, while Windows and Mac OS X account for 36%. (source)