What’s in a News Wiki?
News wikis haven’t make it big yet but, in my opinion, their day is soon.
In a conversation I was having with Joey Baker the other day, we were talking about micropayments, monetization, and how news differs from music, movies, and other forums of content. His argument is that news is “read once, and then file away” while the other forms have “repeat use” value which makes them easier to charge for. This got me thinking. Journalism shouldn’t just be about broadcasting the most recent event of the day, but also providing accurate, vetted, and independent information to educate the community. In fact, news websites are pretty bad with this other side of journalism. If I want to understand the context for an issue’s current situation beyond what’s presented in the article, I’ve got to use an atrocious site search tool to find previous articles on the issue. There has to be a better way to get me to the information I need to know.
Enter: the wiki.
More specifically, a topical wiki that would emphasize finding information by subject as opposed to date. I’m building off of two examples that do part of what I’m thinking about: NY Times Topics and the Guardian website. What I like about the Times Topics website are the *pedia-esque articles that synthesize the latest information into a two to three minute summary. It’s a good starting point, much like Wikipedia, for learning more about a subject. The Guardian website strikes my fancy because of the ability to choose what I’m interested in by subject, and then be able to drill down deeper a la Delicious:
I think these ideas should be merged with a few more in the mix. The context for the design of this news wiki is student government on a university campus, specifically the Associated Students of the University of Oregon (ASUO). This is what I would call a real-life example.
At the moment, if I as a student want to have any idea of what’s going on in student government, what bills are being voted on, and where my money is being used, I’d have to do some sleuthing. The most recent articles about the ASUO in the Daily Emerald will get me started, but I’d have to search across multiple sites, sift through a lot of information, and draft my own conclusions.
Instead, a landing page for the ASUO (and, a la the Guardian website, with nested topics) that was provided, developed, and maintained by a student news organization would be the first place I would go to get myself better acquainted with where the student government was currently at. Here is how it would present information:
- A *pedia article moderated by the beat reporter that anyone in the community could contribute to. To keep the conversation civil, all edits would have to be verifiable. This article would be a four to six paragraph synthesis of what the ASUO was about, what the history was, and what the current issues were.
- Content (including articles, images, and video) within the news organization by most recent, most commented, and most favorited. You’d be able to visualize all of these across a timeline too, in order to get a better understanding of what conversation was happening when.
- By bringing in the conversation from the community. If bloggers used “ASUO” as one of the tags for posts about the student government, that content too would be automatically pulled in and linked to. The same thing would apply for tweets, images on Flickr, and video conversation on Seesmic.
The cool thing is that you could have topics nested within your taxonomy, too. For instance, as a student wanting to educate myself about the student government, I’d start with the primary topic page. If there was an issue that caught my eye, I could click through to get a more refined *pedia article, list of posts on that specific subject, and maybe even the ASUO documents related to their discussion.
I present the student news wiki, a living topical archive to inform the community.