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Immediacy and Impact v Consideration and Analysis: the £1.40 Unconference and the Wave

I have been trying to gather my thoughts around the recent £1.40 Unconference for several weeks, and not really getting very far.

There are probably several reasons for this: a lack of creativity or desire on my part; but also a reaction to one of the themes of the unconference: the immediacy of new media.

This was the first Amplified event I have been to, and I really liked the unconference format. There were lots of good conversations and lots of good ideas – which is what I look for in a gathering like that.

On the other hand, though, it wasn’t clear what would happen next. Was this just an exchange of thoughts or could we do something more concrete?

There were three sessions: one on the role of social media in politics; one on social media and news; and a plenary discussion trying to tie the whole thing up. The idea of the immediacy of social media ran through it all: the fact that social media let you get information out there, quickly.

I come from a different place: I value reflection and analysis; I like to let things lie and filter thoughts and ideas through my unconscious. Some don’t surface again, but some – like this post! – do, and get conjoined to other thoughts or events.

In this case, the Wave – a protest march I went on yesterday in support of governmental action to combat climate change. I’m not going to go on about climate change or politics here – I have done that before, and others do so more eloquently. But for me, it brought home the occasional need for immediacy.

During yesterday’s march, I tweeted about what was going on, where we were and what I thought. Several people tweeted back saying that they appreciated my comments, and some of them got picked up and retweeted by organisations involved in the Wave, too.

I also took photographs of yesterday’s march. I take a lot of photographs, and, coming from a tradition of processing and editing pictures (after years of working in the darkroom), I usually take the same approach to processing digital photographs. It is because of this that I have hundreds – possibly a thousand – unprocessed digital photos going back to June. The photographs I took yesterday, though, have a certain currency: they are only of use now – well, yesterday really. So when I got in from the march, I sat down and edited them quickly – not quite immediate (I didn’t post them directly from my phone to Twitter, for instance), but a pretty fast turnaround for me.

I also thought about trying out some “social recording”, too, using Audioboo (now available for Android phones like mine as well as iPhones). I decided not to – I am more comfortable producing writen and photographic media than audio (that inability to edit…).

To have any currency, then, my thoughts and images from the Wave as it happened needed to get out there quickly. My further consideration, ponderings and analysis can easily be postponed, filtered and synthesised.

We need both. As the £1.40 unconference discussed, Twitter provides an information stream – it isn’t journalism (and I would never, ever pretend that I was a journalist. Not even a very poor one!). Journalism needs that further consideration and analysis of the information gathered. We need both the quick, unthought-through gossip that Twitter provides – the stream-of-consciousness information flow – and in-depth, journalistic coverage.

Immediacy and impact v consideration and analysis. It isn’t either/or – it is both.