Tying it All Together

    by Dan Schultz
    April 27, 2008

    The IdeaLab bloggers have spent four months talking about technologies, roles, and rules surrounding journalism and digital media. Now it’s time to take some of the insights from those posts and design a system that will allow citizens and journalists alike to inform the media conversation, connect with their communities, and democratically drive the social agenda. I’ll give an overview of one possible system here; over the next few weeks I’ll explain each piece of it in more detail.

    System Elements

    • Geotagging – by tagging content to physical location it is possible to personalize it without losing the benefits of contextualization. The tagging can be done through intelligent algorithms and/or by humans during the content submission process. Consumers can then define regions of interest and receive a customized information feed.
    • User aggregated/moderated content – the content on this system will be provided by users and democratically moderated. This means that although anybody will be able to propose new content through submission, it will only become a part of the media conversation if the members of the relevant communities deem it worthy.
    • User roles – we hold these truths to be self evident that all users are created equal, but that doesn’t mean that everyone will do the same thing. Users will naturally gain status within the role that they tend to fill. This means that journalists and citizens in real life will naturally become journalists and citizens on the system as they gain more clout within their areas of expertise.
    • Incorporating multimedia – multimedia can always add meaning to a story and transparency is a vital part of trust. Being able to see the pictures, watch the videos, read the documents, see the full interview transcript, and hear the audio clips that informed the author of an article will enable the critical ability of a reader. It also makes it possible for a new reporter with no track record on the system to convincingly break a story. Mobile technology will allow users to have content uploaded directly to their accounts.
    • Globally local scope – this system will contain a global array of content that is collected and presented at a local level. This method of organization makes it possible to adjust the granularity of any type of information and present different content to each user or group as appropriate.

    Final Thoughts


    When someone creates an account on this system they will have the potential to start, participate in, or simply observe the living breathing media conversations that are going on in their communities. Best of all, I think that it will play well with the industry. The moderation process will naturally reward quality journalism and properly identify opinion pieces as separate from genuine reporting. Just as important, though, is that it will complement rather than overthrow existing local media. I suppose this last point is something worth dedicating a post to as well!

    Tagged: citizen geotagging journalist news system

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