The Berkman Center launched a project called Media Cloud this week, a toolkit that facilitates analysis of trends in the news. The sample visualization on the site now shows world maps that illustrate the number of mentions each country got in Talking Points Memo, the New York Times and the BBC, respectively. I, of course, immediately tried to create a visualization comparing Gotham Gazette to a few other local papers. Lo, though: no Gotham Gazette in Media Cloud.

I’ve been hearing about Calais lately. I at least got the memo that I’m supposed to know what it is. I gather that Calais has something to do with the sources in Media Cloud. So over to Calais:

“Calais is a rapidly growing toolkit of capabilities that allow you to readily incorporate state-of-the-art semantic functionality within your blog, content management system, website or application.”

That clears everything up for you, doesn’t it? There’s more on their about page but there is still a lot of applause for the semantic web and very little in the way of “register for a free account and we’ll help you parse your content in search of semantic keywords” (which, is, roughly, what I was looking for.)

So: Media Cloud is a cool tool and data junkies (and everyone, really. everyone) should take a look. But I don’t want to be left out of the project, either. So file this as my mildly unhinged rant against insiderism. The Berkman Center is the last place (okay, not the last) I’d expect to find the perspective that only the big kids matter.

The benefit of the doubt I can offer is that this project is clearly still under production. They want some ideas about what people might use Media Cloud for, maybe just to keep them inspired, maybe to get people talking about it, maybe so they can plan feature rollout accordingly. So maybe they just need to hear from small publications?

What do you want from them?

And: back to Calais for a moment. As a publisher, we should be wanting to use Calais to index our archival content. They don’t actually have tools to do that with, they have an API — that means that if you aren’t using an out of the box content management system (we aren’t) you’ll need to write your own interface to Calais. Which brings me to my next question: anyone else writing Calais hooks (is “hook” even the right word?) for their content? How are you structuring it?