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Thursday, March 22, 2007
The power of the Web....
What can be done with the open source approach to life? and the betterment of mankind, communication is the one thing that can help break barriers down, and help the growth of trade between countries, which in turn helps bring peace...you don't go to war with your best buddy in trade do you ?, have a read at the article below, and see what it does to your old grey matter...
All the World’s a Story
By DAVID CARR
Published: March 19, 2007 in the NYTIMES.
Journalism has always been a product of networks. A reporter receives an assignment, begins calling “sources” — people he or she knows or can find. More calls follow and, with luck and a deadline looming, the reporter will gain enough mastery of the topic to sit down at a keyboard and tell the world a story.
A new experiment wants to broaden the network to include readers and their sources. Assignment Zero (zero.newassignment.net/), a collaboration between Wired magazine and NewAssignment.Net, the experimental journalism site established by Jay Rosen, a professor of journalism at New York University, intends to use not only the wisdom of the crowd, but their combined reporting efforts — an approach that has come to be called “crowdsourcing.”
The idea is to apply to journalism the same open-source model of Web-enabled collaboration that produced the operating system Linux, the Web browser Mozilla and the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.
“Can large groups of widely scattered people, working together voluntarily on the net, report on something happening in their world right now, and by dividing the work wisely tell the story more completely, while hitting high standards in truth, accuracy and free expression?” Professor Rosen asked last week on Wired.com.
That may not seem like much of a revolution at a time when millions are staring at user-generated video on YouTube, but journalism is generally left in the hands of professionals.
Assignment Zero will use custom software to create a virtual newsroom that allows collaboration on a discrete, but open-ended, topic from the very start.
In this instance, the topic will be be crowdsourcing, so the phenomenon will be used to cover the phenomenon itself. Citizens with a variety of expertise — the “people formerly known as the audience,” as Professor Rosen describes them — will produce work to be iterated and edited by experienced journalists.
“This is designed as a pro-am approach to journalism. I think I saw possibilities here that others did not, and you can only do so much writing about it,” Professor Rosen said. “There is so much up for grabs right now, and the barriers to entry, the costs of doing something have become low enough to where it seemed it was best to just give it a try.”
If all that sounds like a gossamer bit of Web 2.0 preciousness, consider that Gannett is in the process of remaking the newsrooms at its 90 newspapers into “information centers,” a place where readers are given access to all the tools of journalism including, yes, the journalists themselves.
At newspapers like The Asbury Park Press in New Jersey, Florida Today in Brevard County and The News-Press in Fort Meyers, Fla., citizens can dial into databases and public records, or contribute their own experiences to provide grist for reported efforts.
A project at The News-Press on the high cost of sewer and water lines (available in the newspaper’s paid archives at www.news-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/frontpage) included volunteer engineers going over blueprints in their spare time and an insider who disclosed critical documents.
“This is a new approach to watchdog journalism. Crowdsourcing is engaging the wisdom and expertise in our communities early on in the reporting process,” Jennifer Carroll, vice president of new media content for Gannett, said.
Making the choice in favor of transparency, dialogue and in some instances collaboration, the country’s largest newspaper company is willing to surrender traditions of competition, expertise and control.
Of course, there’s an economic rationale, as well. Many hands make light work and cheap ones if they belong to volunteers. But Gannett is also betting that people will be more compelled to stay with a product they helped make. (Ms. Carroll said that jobs will not be cut, but redefined. We’ll see about that.)
Jeff Howe, a reporter who helped coin the term “crowdsourcing” and is writing a book about the subject, will draw on the reporting from AssignmentZero to write a feature article in Wired about the phenomenon.
Wired has also financed an editor, Lauren Sandler, a veteran journalist, producer and author, who will oversee assignments, edit copy and write a blog to keep the community that grows up around the story informed about its progress. The site has a director of participation, Amanda Michel, who used the Web to enroll citizens in the campaigns of Howard Dean and later, John Kerry and John Edwards, and a nicely named “directory of verification.”
But the largest share of the reporting is the responsibility to folks who simply raised their hands. In the next few months, deadlines will loom for the citizen journalists, copy will be edited and articles will appear at NewAssignment.net site. A few of those might even make it into Wired magazine, according to Chris Anderson, the editor.
“This is an experiment in doing things differently, and maybe better,” said Mr. Anderson. “It doesn’t invalidate the way things have been done, but it allows us to bring in some nontraditional sources and approaches.”
The Web has transformed a lot of things, including journalism, turning it into a self-cleaning and occasionally overheated oven. Those of us who perpetrate journalism know in our hearts that it is a craft, not a profession, one that requires a finite set of skills to do competently and a lot of passion to do well.
This past season, I wrote a blog about the movie business that would flick at topics that I was either too uninformed about or too hard-pressed to nail down. Inevitably, readers would begin buzzing around in comments, a hive that sent out a swarm that eventually, through conversation, argument and annotation, yielded valuable insights and hard facts.
“We are not creating a robot that is some kind of journalism machine,” said Ms. Sandler, the editor of the project. “This is not a death knell or a new utopia.”
“It’s like throwing a party,” she added. You program the iPod, mix the punch and dim the lights and then at 8 o’clock people show up. And then who knows what is going to happen?”