The Thunderbird soars

Some very cool, very exciting stuff is happening at UBC’s School of Journalism.  The process is still in its early stages, but if you want to get a sense of where things are headed, check out what’s going on with its online publication The Thunderbird.  Best described in their own words:

No one has ever attempted this ever before in Vancouver: keeping tabs on what ALL the news and non-traditional media are reporting during a municipal election campaign. It’s a massive news scan – focusing just on Vancouver.

A team of 15 graduate students at UBC’s School of
Journalism are digging through tons of newsprint, hours of TV and radio news, and virtual lifetimes of online digital data. All of it.

All for you.

More civic news than you knew you wanted, probably more than you can digest. But it’s all here – from battling bloggers to dueling pundits and everything in between.

This coverage kicks anything else I’m aware of — the media environment of my local civic space just got a whole lot richer and a whole lot groovier.  One of the things that impresses me most is the prominence of the most compelling content.  I should note that this publication has been given a complete reworking over a very short period of time, and presently drips with all manner of social software rich chocolatey goodness — this is a great example of a blog that pushes the definitions of what a blog is about. Serious kudos are in order.

About Brian

I am a Strategist and Discoordinator with UBC's Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. My main blogging space is Abject Learning, and I sporadically update a short bio with publications and presentations over there as well...
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5 Responses to The Thunderbird soars

  1. Richard says:

    You say that the Thunderbird “presently drips with all manner of social software rich chocolatey goodness — this is a great example of a blog that pushes the definitions of what a blog is about.” I’m inclined to agree that the site has come a long way since it didn’t include links directly to the articles it was referencing (it now does a good job of that), and its redesign makes it an interesting magazine/newspaper/weblog hybrid. But it’s really ‘just’ articles with comments. That’s not a bad thing: that’s what The Tyee is too, and they (The Tyee) get a lot of responses to their articles, so in that respect they are very successful. It also looks like the Thunderbird is writing more in-depth, opiniated articles, which is far more interesting than a daily digest of media reports.

    In other words, “all manner of social software rich chocolatey goodness” means they would let me sign up for an account on which I could submit articles and photos and video and audio. I understand that’s not the purpose of the site–that is, it’s a project for graduate students–so I guess calling it ‘social software’ is not terribly appropriate, since that implies something more than a weblog with no user/reader submission process.

    I also have a problem with “battling bloggers to dueling pundits and everything in between” in their ‘about’ page. That frames their viewpoint as an “us vs. them” battle, which isn’t what citizen/participatory/open journalism is supposed to be about. It’s supposed to mean less sensationalism and confrontation and more conversation, which would make the site even better than it already is.

  2. Brian says:

    I probably did use “social software” too broadly, I tend to conceptualize the term fairly loosely. I am really pleased to have seen such a promising new development come about at The Thunderbird, and was in a mood to hand out huzzahs — as I am wont to do when cool stuff happens in my backyard.

    And I see your point about foregrounding confrontation, though I’m inclined to let that pass as a somewhat misguided attempt to attract readers. If the actual coverage focuses on the sensationalistic elements of blog discourse to the detriment of more thoughtful fare, then obviously that’s a different story.

  3. I feel…a comment emerging…yes, definitely a comment coming on, first inspired by Brian’s lovely remarks, and then provoked by Richard’s obvious misreading (or missing) the mandate of the temporary project we are engaged in.

    Let me deal with Richard first.

    What visitors see at is a special project that will last until Nov. 20, when the Vancouver municipal election is over. The we revert to our main mandate, which is to explore and contextualise “news about news”.

    But for the time being, we are exploring something entirely different, for a short period of time. Our “Media Map” is a student-created, -led, and produced scan of one particular aspect of the local mediascape; here our mandate is to be comprehensive, and to provide a kind of meteorlogical analysis of the way in which an election creates a series of media storms – how reporters respond to other reporters, bloggers, and civilian journalists.

    We try not to interfere in the process too much. As for Brian’s use of the word “social software” I think he hits the nail on the head. Richard, I hope you understand that one aspect of social software actually involves people talking to one another. For example, this blog is clearly an instance of social software, but we are not talking to one another. We are writing to one another. Talking uses the mouth as and the ear. Our students are not just scanning, but talking. We talk to reporters, bloggers, politicians, and others. We also type to them as well. All of it is captured in our news blog, and so far it has been very successful in getting people to communicate, both with their mouths, ears, eyes and fingers.

    It’s easy for the technically-inclined to see the software part as the most important aspect of the equation, followed by network architecture, trackbacks, pings, RSS, etc. I am being unfair, of course. But here’s a question: what can social software do to make us more intimate and compassionate with one another? My sense in watching my own experiences online since 1988 is that I have become more detached and isolated from my family, friends, and society as IT has improved. A really useful iteration of social software would include a timer to let me know when to turn my computer off, or a prompting system that would examine my motivation for spending so much time in front of a computer…

    Oops! an alarm just went off. It’s telling me to thank Brian once again for his generosity and support, and to make sure I have not been too hard on Richard.



  4. musician says:

    My mind is like a fog. Oh well. My life’s been really dull today. Eh. Today was a total loss. I’ve more or less been doing nothing , but I guess it doesn’t bother me.

  5. democracy says:

    Google Stillstand? Seit gut einer Woche taucht kein einziger Artikel, den wir schreiben, in den Index aufgenommen. Hat jemand ahnliche Erfahrungen? Normalerweise dauert das nur 1-2 Tage bis Google die Artikel im Index auffuhrt. Gehts es anderen auch so?

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