Brian Stelter of the New York Times has reported that today NBC News will announce the acquisition of Stringwire, a video news startup. Vivian Schiller, the chief digital officer of NBC News, is quoted in the story, saying, “Wherever you see a swarm of eyewitnesses on Twitter, that’s the sweet spot for Stringwire,” and she cited the demonstrations in Tahrir Square, the Boston Marathon bombings, and the July 6 crash landing of Asiana flight 214 in San Francisco.
Stringwire, the brainchild of Phil Groman, a recent graduate of NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, is still under development. Groman will continue as product lead at the NBC News Digital Group’s offices in San Francisco. The premise is to create a social platform for video news aggregation, so that from a set of eyewitnesses at the scene of some event, NBC will be able to stitch together some coherent picture of what is happening in real time.
The service will piggyback on Twitter. When witnesses mention on Twitter that they are, for example, near a plane crash site, Stingwire will send them a Twitter message with an embedded link, and if they click it they will instantly be able to send live video to the service.
This is another example that successful media companies in today’s world will have to act like software companies, which are perhaps the best example of the huge scale inherent in modern web technologies, social tools, and always-connected smartphones and the swarms carrying them. Schiller is obviously someone who I will be watching in the months ahead, because someone who is pushing in this direction is likely to be making more acquisitions and building a portfolio of technologies — and technologists — to make them work.
Apparently, Schiller was introduced to Groman by Clay Shirky, an NYU professor in the ITP program and the author of Here Comes Everyone: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, a book on the power of social media.