Recognizing a new tool at The Boston Globe is a gateway to worthwhile discussion on social media strategy: not everyone likes, has access to or uses the same digital thing. And that’s great for journalism.
Journalism.co.uk has a nice read on the wall-o-local-Instagram pics that the Globe is test-driving in its newsroom. Appropriately named “Snap,” the project is a result of a partnership with the MIT Media Lab, and it displays every local Instagram image on a big map of the area. Neat on its own (i.e., worthy of an Instagrammed pic of its own), and notably, it’s also being used for helping find sources for local stories.
There’s definite newsroom utility to display social media data like this on a map. You naturally are exposed to events, with pictorial evidence, that you may not have otherwise paid attention towards. And you can can pinpoint where that action is happening. That’s practical on a day-to-day basis, and particularly helpful during event like Hurricane Sandy, where much is going on and you’re looking to move your reporting fast. It’s clearly a useful tool (and if it isn’t yet clear, I’d certainty love to play with it.)
What I think is worth noting beyond the obvious ingenuity, however, was the main story that according to the article Chris Marstall, creative technologist at the Boston Globe, actually produced during Hurricane Sandy. After spending “about eight hours staring at Snap” during the storm, this piece says that Marstall didn’t know what story to pick up and write. “Eventually I figured out that the interesting story to tell was that everybody was staying home and getting drunk in their apartments, doing a lot of day drinking,” he said.