1.0 What is Kurrently?
Kurrently is a real-time social media search engine tool for status updates from Facebook, Twitter and Google+ (StatsCrop, 2012). It was created in 2010 by Gilbert Leung and is most popular in Germany (Web Stats Domain, 2011). Kurrently is easy to use with unique features to track all status topics in real-time (Sharon, 2010). The designers have promoted Kurrently as a tool to help retailers track the popularity of their brands (Baer, 2010). Similarly, tools such as Kurrently can be useful for 21st Century media professionals in Australia in seeking out the most relevant story angles.
2.0 Instructions for using Kurrently
Kurrently is simple to use. As seen in Figure 1, start by typing the target word(s) (a keyword, business or person) into the search engine.
The site directs the user to a constant stream of real-time status updates from Facebook, Twitter and Google+ users as shown in Figure 2.
There is a remote control on the left-hand side of the screen to filter the search engine results, seen in Figure 3. The user can pause the real-time search; select the speed and language of the search; and choose which social media site the status updates are sourced from.
Once the search is underway, the user can click on a selected status to save it or follow the permalink to the source site. As displayed in Figure 4, every status that is filtered through the tool will display the time passed since it was posted and a symbol indicating what site it has come from. The tool also includes any links attached to statuses and does not restrict posts to a certain amount of characters.
To create a list of saved status updates on Kurrently, the user must link their Twitter account by signing in, as shown in Figure 5.
3.0 Analysis of Kurrently
3.1 Tasks for media professionals
It seems that news networks in Australia and around the world have never fully accepted the reliability of the Internet and social networking sites to track news (O’Sullivan & Heinonen, 2008). Academics have tried to analyse how useful and accurate the Internet is in tracking the public’s social, civic and economic pursuits (Buente & Robbin, 2008). Other researchers overseeing media trends in Europe write that journalists remain on the fence, “They [journalists] welcome the Internet when it suits their professional skills, practices, and purposes: this tool speeds up and facilitates the functions of journalism, it improves the work’s impact on audiences, and it enables a more visible and public relationship with readers… On the other hand, journalists hesitate, as argued by O’Sullivan & Heinonen (2008), to abandon the conventions of traditional journalism, both at organizational and at professional level. Moreover, they are suspicious of the unreliability of online information and acknowledge the greater difficulty of distinguishing credible content” (Fortunati, Sarrica, O’Sullivan, Balcytiene, Harro-Loit, Macgregor, Roussou, Salaverr, de Luca, 2009). While there is reasonable argument against using social media as a reliable source for news, it is becoming increasingly clear that the media is at risk of being left behind. According to ABC’s Media Watch, many Australian journalists have recently made the error of ignoring social media and consequently failing to recognise the most important issues facing the public (Holmes, 2012).
On October 9, 2012, Prime Minister Julia Gillard gave a controversial speech in parliament, accusing Opposition Leader Tony Abbott of being sexist and a misogynist. Following the speech, a series of op-eds were published that focused on the hypocrisy of Gillard that she had attacked Abbott for sexism while defending Peter Slipper. On October 15, Media Watch stated that Australian journalists had failed to produce articles that echoed the true reactions in cyberspace.
While there is no mention of the effectiveness of social media sentiment tracking tools in the Media Watch broadcast, Holmes does argue that the reactions to Gillard’s speech were not focused on grubby text messages as reported thoroughly by the media, but the public’s own life experiences and the media failed to adequately cover this vital side of the story immediately after the event. Holmes’ concluding question was that if journalists were not committed to engaging in the wider public’s opinions in news coverage, then what is the point of journalism. I believe that Kurrently could have helped journalists troubleshoot this problem and the tool represents one answer to the global challenge of monitoring, managing and measuring topics accurately (Reid, 2011).
3.2 Affordances of Kurrently
3.2.1 Technical affordances of Kurrently
A media professional working on a deadline requires simplicity and efficiency in a web tool. Kurrently incorporates unique features without being too complicated to use. There are two main pages of the site, simplistic in both appearance and operation. The site also runs smoothly and technical glitches are often only caused by the source sites.
Additionally, a media professional can expect to find a range of other news stories and, while it may not have been an original design-preferred feature of the tool, Kurrently affords users to access a broader range of links related to their stories. More often than not, when a user searches a term in an attempt to learn more about it, they can find many links to external websites, ensuring a broad range of information becomes accessible in one place.
3.2.2 Purposive affordances of Kurrently
Kurrently encourages retailers to track their brands on the site, which has been heavily promoted in the blogosphere. The site does provide three short trend lists on the site’s homepage where Kurrently uses information from the user’s linked Twitter account, geolocation and personal search history to track the top three trending topics for three different user groups: “Monitor your brand”, “Follow Live Events” and “Find Interesting Content”. Kurrently does not limit the users to these categories. The tool serves the same purpose to a journalist as the creators have promoted to retailers, where instead of monitoring brands, media professionals would monitor news topics. The user-interface has been intentionally formed to be design-independent, allowing and encouraging users to adapt the site’s material and search results as they wish.
3.3 Constraints of Kurrently
3.3.1 Technical constraints of Kurrently
Kurrently’s simple user-interface affords many adaptable uses for 21st Century media professionals but users may find its simplicity restrictive. Unlike Twitter-based tools such as Trendsmap and Bottlenose, the tool gives the user access to a broader range of social media sites. However, one of the few users who has left feedback on the site about the tool suggests that Kurrently should incorporate more social networking platforms in the search engine. While this feature does limit the user from seeing information from a broad range of sites, those that are featured are three of the most prominent real-time social media platforms to date that contain the most relevant information for media professionals in particular. If, in the future, a new significant social networking platform emerged equal to Twitter, Facebook and Google+, this feature would indeed need to be changed.
3.3.2 Purposive constraints of Kurrently
The most frustrating feature of the tool is its lack of additional information. For a media professional looking to adapt this tool to a newsroom setting, the site does not provide an explanation of any of the features. However, soon that may change, with the site’s creator allegedly considering additional features to the current version of Kurrently. Baer writes, “Concepts under consideration include a variety of different search results (not just by time, but possibly by relevancy or impact), analytics, RSS feeds, widgets and more” (Baer, 2010).
4.0 Using Kurrently
4.0.1 Kurrently and the media
One of the most popular stories recently has been the presidential debates in the lead up to the US election. This article features an analysis of the social media reactions surrounding the campaigns of both political parties and uses social media gauges like Kurrently to provide the reader with an interesting and balanced look at the activity on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
However, while effective, this style of article is not always the best way to present social media trend tracking findings in the news. As seen in the article, presenting bare data and facts from social media sites does not make for an attractive news layout let alone provide information that is easy to read. The best way to use sites such as Kurrently is to incorporate the information it provides into the ideas and angles of the story.
4.0.2 Kurrently in practice
A social media search engine tool is not an appropriate source to quote in a news story. A journalist should be able to use the information provided by the tool alongside facts assumed by further investigation with accurate, well-sourced talent to create a balanced, newsworthy article. This article has been written with the assumption that the writer works for a news network that approves of using Twitter and Facebook status updates as direct sources for stories. However, one can still use the tool to work the opinions of the social media users as a commentary or backbone to the op-ed about the reaction from cyperspace during and after Gillard’s speech. By simply searching “julia+gillard” and “misogyny+speech”, almost all of the information required to get started on an op-ed at Holmes’ standards can be found through Kurrently.
5.0 Summary Matrix
Kurrently is a very interesting tool that can help media professionals do their jobs effectively and, therefore, is highly recommended. However, journalists using the tool must remember it is not a tool that can write the story itself. It is a tool to help the user select a topic, research it and find the appropriate sources in order to effectively encompass the public’s various opinions in fair and balanced news coverage.
|Selecting a topic||Pros||Cons||N/A|
|Media research||Tool helps journalists monitor, manage and measure story topics.|
|Newsworthiness||Tool is the best way to determine whether a particular topic is newsworthy or not.||Tool’s filter does not distinguish between newsworthy and general topics.|
|Angle||Tool is highly effective in helping a reporter choose the most relevant angle.|
|Defining topic||Journalist would not use this tool to define a story’s topic but it does allow journalist to access attached hyperlinks in order to narrow down to the original source and definition if need be.|
|Choosing sources||Tool can help provide an idea of the sources social media users are most interested in.||Social media users often do not account for the requirement for balanced sources.|
|Facts and figures||Social media users do not always share information that provides accurate facts and figures. Journalist is still required to research for accurate information.|
|Interviews||Social media users can provide the names and whereabouts of important sources needed for interview.||Journalist cannot rely on interviews or alleged conversations between sources and social media users writing status updates. Journalist is still required to conduct the full interview.|
|Anecdotes||Tool can be effective in helping journalists find original accounts of events.||Tool does not provide a filter for personal accounts versus second-hand accounts.|
|Documents, photographs, video and audio information/content||Tool allows journalist to access social media users’ links to additional material for the story.|
|Checking credibility||Tool does not provide an effective way for a journalist to check credibility of sources or information.|
|Selecting most important data||Tool is very effective in helping journalists in determining what is the most important data and where to find it.|
|Pyramid Structure||Tool helps to provide all relevant information to form a story that follows the appropriate pyramid structure.|
|Flow/clarity||Tool provides journalist with a time stamp for all posts which can help form a well-flowing, accurate account of an event or story topic.|
|Designing layout||Tool does not prove useful in designing or presenting a typical news story layout.|
|Audience reach||Tool works best as a simple aid to story research, topic analysis and writing, not the distribution of the final piece.|
|Accessibility||Same as above.|
|Criteria derived from Ricketson (2004) and Spencer (2006)|
Baer, J. (2010). Kurrently Revolutionizes Real Time Search With Twitter and Facebook Results. Retrieved October 23, 2012 from http://www.convinceandconvert.com/search-marketing-advice/kurrently-revolutionizes-real-time-search-with-twitter-facebook-results/.
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Gillard labels Abbott a misogynist. Retrieved October 23, 2012 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ihd7ofrwQX0.
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Holmes, J. (Writer). (2012, October 15). Media Watch: Episode 27 [Television broadcast]. Sydney, NSW: Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
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Kurrently – Real Time Search Engine for Facebook & Twitter. Retrieved October 23, 2012 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JiR_KnfOKoc.
McDonald, M. (2012). Australian Leader Unleashes Blistering Speech. Retrieved October 22, 2012 from http://rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/11/gillards-blistering-speech-a-model-for-obama/.
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Spencer, L. (2006). News Writing: The Gathering, Handling and Writing of News Stories. 25-122.
StatsCrop. (2012). Retrieved October 23, 2012 from http://www.statscrop.com/www/kurrently.com.
Web Stats Domain. (2011). Retrieved October 23, 2012 from http://www.webstatsdomain.com/domains/www.kurrently.com/.
PM’s message lost in the press
This week, critics are questioning the media’s collective reactions to Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s parliamentary speech accusing Opposition Leader Tony Abbott of being a misogynist.
The media’s reflections in the days following were all focused on Peter Slipper.
The reaction to Gillard’s misogyny speech from journalists and commentators has been incredible. It’s as if some of them genuinely thought, “Patriarchy to the rescue!” - Agas Oehme
But if the political journalists in Canberra had paused their scorning of the PM for a moment to observe the reactions in cyberspace and overseas, they may have noticed that Slipper was the last thing on everybody’s mind.
“It would appear that misogyny is alive and kicking in Oz. But so is girl power, in the guise of PM Julia Gillard” – RAPP-UK
Even before Gillard’s 15 minute “showdown“ was over, social media platforms erupted.
“If you haven’ t seen this speech, you should. It is one of the best speeches in political history, probably up there with Martin Luther King and Winston Churchill… if you are a woman and are considering voting Liberal, then woe to you…” – Robert Asmus
Some described Gillard as a shoddy feminist, others that it was a tactic to win votes.
But Australian women won battles in the social media circuit, calling Gillard a hero: the person putting Abbott “in his place”.
“Oh Tony, for a man who believes women are inferior, it gives me great joy watching you being completely picked apart professionally by one with more authority than you will ever have.” – Denaro Denaro
Now it appears that Australia’s first female prime minister has not only stirred the pot in the Liberal Party, but sparked new debate over sexism in Australia, the Macquarie Dictionary’s definition of the term misogyny and the suitability of Tony Abbott as a future leader.
Some are saying that that is a mission accomplished.