In Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest, Zeynep Tufekci discusses the emergence of curatorial journalism and contrasts its function with that of traditional journalism. From pg 41:
Traditional journalism tries to solve a problem of scarcity: lack of cameras at an event. Social media curatorial journalism tries to solve a problem of abundance: telling false or fake reports from real ones and composing a narrative from a seemingly chaotic splash-drip-splash supply of news.
This is something which has often been undertaken by citizens, rather than professional journalists, lacking a commitment to established ways of performing journalism which emerged within a different information environment. Could this also be a model for public engagement by sociologists? We can already see many sociologists performing this function, maintaining Twitter feeds and blogs which select from media sources and filter them through the prism of a research agenda and expertise which has been accumulated over many years.
It occurs to me that “composing a narrative” out of the informational disarray which predominates on social media is a task which sociologists could be well suited for, particularly in terms of complex and peripheral issues which are framed in isolation within the media. It would be interesting to know how sociologists who already perform this role online understand their own activity. Are there differences in how this is theorised by practioners? Does this have implications for practice? Is this a new frontier of public sociology or merely a digital reiteration of the older traditional public intellectual?