Here’s how Spy bills itself: “spy can listen in on the social media conversations you’re interested in. What do you want to listen for?”
For anyone who wants the most current news, in English, about a situation like Mumbai, ‘Spy’ is faster than English news sites, and less of a hassle then repeatedly entering a Twitter search for Mumbai. You just go to the Spy site, and your screen scrolls with automatic updates of the latest Twitters on your topic.
It reminds me of the old newsrooms – when a big news event happened you’d hear it first, because the news would start pounding in on the ‘wires’, all the machines coming to life with that sudden cacophony of non-stop dot-matrix printers.
Spy isn’t perfect – the scrolling updates include searches – but it’s still a much faster way of getting the news than waiting hours for the translated news to end up on BBC, CBC or CNN.
But even the leading journalists are going here for their news. This Twitter rolled by as I last checked Spy for Mumbai news:
@steverubel NYT looking to collaborate on #Mumbai. Twitter impt: http://tinyurl.com/6pp3ze
In the comments section of this New York Times blog, even an LA Times writer comments on the novelty of the New York Times soliciting first-hand news reports. Another commenter writes how behind NYT is, asking for updates via blog, while CNN shows credited FlickR photos and Twitters.
For the history of Mumbai and reports on Twitter you can view Tweetip on Mumbai
Mumbai sure demonstrates the difference speed via Twitter can make where it really counts, with a feed about an urgent and immediate need for blood donation at hospitals:
Besides Spy, another useful way of tracking very fast-moving news is with perspctv. It shows three columns, on the topic/terms you choose: Recent Tweets, Recent Blog Posts, and Recent News. All three columns scroll auto-updates, so it’s a pretty interesting way of comparing how news coverage moves on very fast-moving issues. I like it for the comparison, though it’s not as easy to read and follow.
An interesting unrelated sidenote, I like how this shows globalization. On Spy, I saw a Twitter feed roll by that mentioned perspctv. That Tweet was by a fellow from Norway, currently in Melbourne Australia. He tips people on where to get coverage about Mumbai India, and I’m reading about it in Vancouver Canada. Cool.
Wired article, Mumbai Attack Aftermath, Tweet by Tweet