Old tech and new tech working together

Neil Sanderson ZL1NZ running the Twitter stream from ZL1ZLD Musick Point Radio

Running the Twitter stream from ZL1ZLD Musick Point Radio. Photo: Merv Thomas

I’ve always been fascinated by communications technology, and that’s been reflected in my career, starting out as a journalist/broadcaster, then as a writer and – for the past 15 years or so – in web publishing.

But for me it all began as a teenage ham radio operator. Back in those days, you had to pass rigorous examinations including sending and receiving Morse code. Then, before you could even think about using “voice” communications, you had to spend at least a year on the air “pounding brass”, and pass an even tougher exam including more Morse code, at higher speed. At this point, many hams put away their Morse key for good, but some of us still take pleasure in using what some have called “the original digital mode” of communication.

A couple of weeks ago, I got to enjoy old tech and new tech at the same time, as our radio club marked the 20th anniversary of the end of “professional” Morse code in New Zealand – the closure of the country’s marine coast radio stations. From our base at the historic Musick Memorial Radio Station, a former coast radio station in Auckland, we operated 14 hours continuously, and about half of that operation was using Morse Code.

It was wonderful to have about a dozen former operators from the station drop in for the event, and to see their eyes light up when they first heard Morse code coming from the operators’ console.

What about the new technology? Well, our operation was publicised around the world in advance using our club website, social media and online forums.

Then, on the day, as we changed frequencies every 30 minutes, I would post the current frequency and other information to our Twitter account.

In the photo above, my laptop (connected to the net by wifi of course) is sitting in front of some radio gear from the 1940s. Old tech and new tech, working together.

Twitter reschedules maintenance to keep Iran news flowing

Protest in Iran

From Anderson Cooper’s blog at CNN.com.

…senior officials say the State Department asked Twitter to refrain for going down for periodic scheduled maintenance at this critical time to ensure the site continues to operate. Bureau’s and offices across the State Department, they say, are paying very close attention to Twitter and other sites to get information on the situation in Iran.

and

…officials say the internet, and specifically social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, are providing the United States with critical information in the face of a crackdown on journalists by Iranian authorities.

Twitter, as vital national security infrastructure?

» Cyberwar guide for Iran Elections

» June 20 update: Twitter on the baricades: Six lessons learned

» Photo by Hamed Saber on Flickr, June 15, 2009

Why are so many journalists clueless about Twitter?

Blogger Rachel Sklar admits to a pet peeve which I share: journalists who write disparagingly about Twitter while having no idea what it is or how it works.

I recall a freelance writer whose first tweet a few months ago was along the lines of: “Hey, my story about Twitter just got published.” No trace of irony.

There are plenty of great examples, but I’ll leave it to Rachel to excoriate some of the worst.

Two troubling questions remain: why is the standard of reporting around Twitter so dismal, and is there a similar problem with coverage of other topics?

On Twitter, men get followed

Interesting research about Twitter usage has been published on the Harvard Business Review blog.

Among the findings:

  • men have 15% more followers than women
  • men have more reciprocated relationships, in which two users follow each other
  • 10% of users account for 90% of tweets
  • the median number of lifetime tweets per user is one
  • over half of users tweet less than once every 74 days

No such thing as bad publicity

The comments have been snarky, but it’s been a great couple of weeks for raising awareness of Twitter.

Jon Stewart on the Daily Show lampooned US lawmakers who thought twittering was more important than paying attention to President Obama’s State of the Union speech (above).

And Doonesbury’s ace reporter Roland Hedley faced the Twitter equivalent of writer’s block, trying – not too successfully – to think of something worth tweeting.

Why Twitter might be just the ticket

Twitter 

I confess to being a bit baffled by Twitter. I just haven’t felt the need for minute-by-minute updates on what my friends are doing, or seen any reason to bore them with such a running commentary from me.

But Mukund Mohan reckons Twitter saved him US$102 in four minutes, and his post is entertaining as well as informative. The point, he says, is to use Twitter intelligently:

1. Don’t sign up to be followers for a bunch of “known influential twitterers” – much as I like some of them its too much information with not much value. – Keep it close to your friends and really people that can benefit from knowing “what are you doing”?

2. If I could setup folders of friends who I want to send messages to, that’s better. Beats email – which is SLOWWWWWWWW.

3. If you have a globally located team – like we do at Canvas Group, then twitter is awesome for team based collaboration. No point getting frustrated that Kalpesh is not returning calls quick enough from Bangalore because I know he’s with his friends at a bowling alley where connectivity is poor.

Video from G4TV: Will Twitter make us too connected?