Oh, and one other thing--I have access to AP and Reuters wires in real-time, so I monitor those as well. Mostly I keep them in the corner of the screen and wait for stories that are color-coded as urgent and referencing either Egypt or Mubarak. That helped immensely when things were particularly chaotic last week.
PC: Old school journalism!... Is there a tool you wish you had right now?
AC: A ticket to Egypt, and fluency in Arabic.
Having said that, if I were in Tahrir Square right now, it'd be a lot harder for me to focus on curation with that much stuff going on around me.
So I suppose you have to make a choice as to what kind of journalism you will focus on. NPR's reporters in Egypt are focusing on audio; I'm sitting here in Washington, D.C. trying to create a real-time narrative of what's going on, straight from the mouths of people involved in the uprising.
PC: Hrm. That's a nice transition--who do you view as your audience?
AC: I'm not particularly comfortable with the term audience, because the people who read my tweets talk back to me, share my tweets, etc. Most of them are members of the general public interested in what's going on. Some of them are my friends who happen to be following me on twitter and are now subjected to all of these tweets.
And I'm followed by a number of journalists, both in Egypt and outside of it, and some of the protesters as well. It makes for a very dynamic mix of conversations that I just couldn't describe as a passive audience. In many cases, they actively assist me, translating content from Arabic, tracking down documents or videos for me, helping me verify rumors, etc. So some of them have become part of my curation process.
And in the last week or so my Twitter followers have jumped from around 16k to 20k, so there's clearly some interest in it out there.
PC: Wow! You had to be whitelisted by Twitter, right? Because of the volume?
AC: Yes, during the height of the violence a week ago, all of a sudden my tweets stopped working. I managed to get ahold of Katie Stanton at Twitter and she got her team to whitelist me pretty quickly. Even at its worst, I could still tweet once every five or 10 minutes, so it wasn't like I vanished in a black hole for a day. Most people probably didn't even notice I was having tweeting problems.
Apparently I've been hitting 400 tweets a day recently. Amazing and scary at the same time.
PC: In the past you've created a static thing--like your Tunisia Storify, or the Gustav Ning site. How come you're sticking to the stream?
AC: I'd argue neither of them were static--in fact, they were quite dynamic while the stories were playing out. The difference is in those cases I felt there would be a beginning, middle and end to the story that I could manage in real time, then tie it all together.
With Egypt, it's still hard to see how this is going to play out. At one point I started a Storify page for it but info was flying across Twitter so fast I was losing important details. So I decided I'd stick to twitter this time around. Besides, if I took all of these tweets and put it into Storify, it'd have literally thousands of tweets and other elements in it. It probably makes more sense for me to go back after the fact, dig through my tweets and create a narrative then. There's really no right or wrong way of doing this; it's just how things happened this time around.