Friday, November 28, 2008

Stories from India?

I spent some time today looking for good narratives out of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Couldn't find any. Anyone else come across something good?

I have found, meanwhile, a couple interesting things. The Mumbai Mirror, for example, is running at least two separate moment-by-moment timelines of what happened. They're under headlines ("Night of terror," for example) that might lead you to believe a narrative lurked there.

I also checked Twitter feeds for Mumbai, to see if any storytelling could be found there. Not really, although some news organizations are doing what now seems to be the obligatory "social networking feeds cover (fill in the blank tragedy)" story. And here's a blog post about it. But I don't think they're really getting what's on Twitter, at least in the case of the Mumbai attacks; or they're hyping it; or I'm really missing something.

What I found on Twitter the night of the attacks was no first-person victim accounts (might have been too soon, although if you're barricaded in a hotel with your cell phone ...), and very few if any first-person eyewitness accounts. I found a lot of Twitters that linked to CNN and other major news outlets. (Someone's 'tweet' crowed, Covering Mumbai on Twitter. Who needs traditional media? They apparently hadn't figured out what people were linking to.)

It appeared to me that Twitter was not breaking news as much as it was spreading news, or connecting people with the news -- which is still a pretty cool thing, and has promise, but it's a good step or two removed from storytelling or covering the story in any original way. I'm still trying to figure out if/how we can do some sort of productive, valuable, fresh storytelling with a service like Twitter. Jury's out. Thoughts welcomed.

In checking the Mumbai Twitter feed, I also found a 'tweet' that something like, Hung out with a friend and shopped at Target all day. Tired. Just got home and heard about the attacks. Oh, that's terrible.

Now there's something we needed to know.