Declan Butler, reporter This is the personal blog of Declan Butler, a senior reporter at Nature. All views expressed here are mine, and not those of Nature. Contact me at

July 29, 2006

When new news is old news

Filed under: Blogging — admin @ 11:21 pm

Bob Cringely, the self-acclaimed IT guru who describes himself as a “sex symbol, airplane enthusiast and adventurer [who] continues to write about personal computers and has an active consulting business in Silicon Valley, selling his cybersoul to the highest bidder” has been sounding off — “The Wrap Fish, Don’t They? — about the short half-life of news on the Internet. His story is based on a paper — that he thinks was just published, but which was in fact *just republished*– in Phys. Rev. E 73 066132 – see here.

The ironic thing is that the paper he refers to was originally published well over a year ago, and was covered at the time by a colleague at Nature, in dare I say it, online news on the Internet.

So it seems Internet news in some cases rebounds much later than after 36 hours; in the case of his post, over a year after the event. ;->

Some exerpts from Cringely’s post:

“But my point isn’t that I have written so much, or that I am so old and decrepit in Internet years, but simply that I can make a fair claim to knowing how news gets spread around on the Internet — not very well. The Internet is, in fact, the idiot savant of journalism — supremely good at a thing or two and not at all good at anything else.

This belief of mine is confirmed, somewhat, by a recent study from the University of Notre Dame that says news stories survive on the Web for an average of 36 hours before half of their eventual readers have read them. This is in contrast with traditional print newspapers that — since most are published on a daily basis — are typically read by half their readers in 24 hours or less.

If it’s a big story that’s important to a lot of people, the Internet either beats it to death or misses it completely. This is the nature of the beast and it makes me sad because I sit here on the third floor of an old house in Charleston, South Carolina banging out these columns and people ask me “Where do you GET this stuff?”

Not from the Internet.

I talk to people on the phone.”

A search on the Internet can sometimes cut the phone bill… ;->

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