Watching the news of the same-sex marriage victory spread across Twitter this weekend, especially the real-time reaction from the West Village, it was hard not to be emotionally moved by the events. The experience illuminated how learning the news live through Twitter — via first-person sources — is such a different, and in may ways more immersive, experience than getting news from traditional media.
Stories in the local press were perfectly typical: the requisite quotes and photos of people celebrating. Supporters “danced in the streets.” “Crowds gathered, screamed and embraced.” But the stories felt flat, by comparison, to reading about the news and the euphoria via Twitter, in real-time, from people passionate about the story, from people whose lives it instantly changed. In the traditional news article, a disembodied authority tells you the news. Via Twitter, you hear it in the voice of an excited friend — and that creates experience that feels much closer to being there yourself.
Compare, for example, this perfectly fine article from The New York Times with the excellent collection of Tweets and videos pulled together by Brooklyn tech strategist Deanna Zandt (using the Storify curation tool) — included below. Deanna’s tale gives the reader a very different feel.
Reading this, it’s interesting to try to imagine what the Stonewall Riots might have been like had Twitter been around — and how, as well, the impact might have been different.