Toby Moores and Mark Jones discussing social media and 'the third voice' at #newsinnovation

 by Martin Belam, 27 July 2009
"It's not a few people talking a lot, it is a lot of people talking a bit"

One of the more interesting panels at the News Innovation conference featured Toby Moores from Sleepy Dog talking about social media, alongside Mark Jones from Reuters.

Part of the focus of the talk was how to capture 'the third voice' in the room. Politicians and journalists are used to conversing with each other in the set-piece of an interview of a press conference, but how do you also facilitate dialogue with the electorate or the consumer?

Here is a video featuring a couple of clips I took at the session - which ironically starts with Toby Moores extolling the virtues of and saying that nobody watches long video clips. If you stick with it for longer than 12 seconds, you should also spot Matt Buck sketching on his hacked MacBook, and Julian Darley asking a question.

You can find another clip of Toby Moores which Kevin Anderson made on the day over on The Guardian's site.


The world is changing at such a rapid speed that one wonders what it will unfold into, within the next 3 years. What puzzled me about observing content that lasted 12 seconds, was how much you can grasp, realize, understand within such a small space of time. I have been a film studies graduate and I was always proud about watching really long films, especially Bollywood films, that can last even 3 hours. So I am shocked to hear that people's attention span can't handle 4 minutes of visual content. Its interesting how social media is a vacuum for making money if you know how, but for people like myself its the opportunity to meet someone from the other side of the planet, and share a part of their world with yours and I have experienced many worthy connections with people through tweet, digg it, facebook, squiddo, etc. So after watching the clip of Toby Moores and Mark Jones discussing social media, I have to humbly acknowledge that I am behind the times, but light years ahead of my grandad, who simply has no time for the Internet, because he believes he has nothing important to share. I did like the idea of creating a story and the audience sharing in the creation of it, like the authors of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Will it mean that in the future we can create block busters films without a film crew or a budget? Will Warner Brothers simply create films for us, where we can just order them like a DVD delivery service? Perhaps films of the future in commercial cinemas will only last 12 minutes? These are interesting questions to me because, it sounds like the audience, consumer are perhaps the ones who control social media. Not that social media create things for us audience and dictates the content for us.

Hi Sol
I don't think it is the case that people's attention span is too short to watch 4 minutes. I think it is more to do with whether the content is part of a conversation. In which case it needs to be much shorter. Most people swap between being talker and listener every 10 - 40 seconds or so. The question might be what is the video/audio equivalent of 140/160 characters?

On the second point I think that film crews and budgets will be around for a long time. I suspect the graph of big budget movies to UGC is a power law curve. Our comments were more to do with providing additional content for the fans on top of the finished film or song. An example of this is Apple Cocktail.

Hope this helps - Cheers Toby

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