As part of an experiment called “Behind Closed Doors on the Net”, five journalists from Canada, France, Switzerland and Belgium will be locked in a house from February 1st to 5th. The goal will be to determine what image of the news they receive when interpreting solely through Social Media. This analysis can certainly help provide some analysis into Twitter, which unexpectedly rose as the primary communication channel for protestors during the recent Iranian election, and has recently been used a tool for aid in Haiti.
The journalists will be stripped of all existing communication technologies, including radios and phones, and will even be barred from viewing print media. They will have a computer with which they can access the web, and will be able to click all the links that are provided to their Facebook or Twitter accounts. They will also be able to access the Twitter feeds of fellow journalists, and click on the links available on their pages. It is not clarified as to whether a Twitter user can scour Twitter for any other users’ accounts and links, but without such a restriction, the floodgates would certainly open for the journalists to be able to read a lot of news.
According to a report from the Toronto Star, we can see that Janic Tremblay mentions he hopes they confine sources entirely to Facebook and Twitter, rather than allowing Journalists to click the actual links provided. This angle is interesting, as with today’s web, clicking the link will provide a user with a great deal of ancillary information. Facebook and Twitter behave a lot more like a gateway into news websites, prompting users to navigate the site once they are in. They will be forbidden from clicking other links, but with the number of informational links available at the top, side and bottom of pages, they will be able to piece together a lot more than just what the social networks are telling them.
I feel that Tremblay’s idea would more accurately test just how much information can be obtained from Social Networks. By reading my friends’ links and short descriptions, I would know only what my friends have chosen to share, and that will probably highlight the informational abilities of each social network’s tools. It would be interesting to see whether the Twitter or Facebook user came out with a more accurate image of recent events in this experiment. Unfortunately, in the current experiment, the users will be able to ‘circumvent’ the system and view information outside the social networks.
It’s been reported that the project will have debates, radio reports, a dedicated Twitter feed and Facebook updates. More on that as it is announced.