Grokky Jarvis Has Something to Say about the News

Jeff JarvisJarvis is correct. Equally important in the land of new ideas, however, is vivid articulation. Write the truth, and write it well.

And so he does. To wit, “Like most everyone else chasing this golden fleece, I’ve defined [hyperlocal news] as content, news, a product, listings, data, software, sites, ads. It’s not. Local is people: who knows what, who knows whom, who’s doing what (and, yes, who’s doing whom). The question should be…how we bring them elegant organization.” That’s Zuckerberg’s term—elegant organization. Jarvis likes it a lot. He’ll tell you about it too.

“I now believe that he who figures out how to help people organize themselves,” Jarvis continues, “letting them connect with one other and what they all know, will end up with news, listings, reviews, data, gossip, and more as byproducts.”

I’ll take it from here. The generally news-based web application must organize its information around functional units that are most relevant to the subject. When the subject is news, the most relevant functional units are people and and issues and organizations. Note that a full thirty percent of google searches are for people, for instance, says Jaideep Singh, CEO of Spock in this July 2 PodTech video. Also note the proliferation of person-centric search engines, like Spock, ZabaSearch, Pipl, PeekYou, and Ligit, to name a quick few.

Today, however, the news is still fundamentally organized around its content, its tiny bits of content, its data, whether those be newspaper articles, blog posts, podcasts, or webpages. That organization—in which people and issues are contingent upon the bits of content that discuss them—is a relic of paper and, just as important, html. The article has taken the story hostage. That must be turned on its head: the bits of content must be contingent on the people they discuss. The people, and also the issues, who constitute the story, as it were, must be liberated from the confines of the article. That’s the promise the internet makes to journalism in the twenty-first century. That’s the promise the database makes to news.

A newspaper article will get broken into pieces, like legos that interlock: “little objects,” as Scoble once called them. Those objects will be stored individually, deployable individually, graphable individually. Individually, but not alone. They will live in cells among millions of others cells, part of semantic hive buzzing with the fervor of the world’s news. Or at least the world’s news according the internet.

By slicing up the data, by breaking up the data, we can put it back together. Only we can put it back together however we like, as individuals and as a collective—confident in our ability to tell whatever story may yet be lurking in the interstices of modern journalism. Blogs created an army of journalists. The web needs an application that will arm a legion of editors, each driven largely by their own individual tastes for consuming news but cooking up social feast of intelligent information.

Jarvis again: “People, not content. People, not data. People, not software.” Wait, not software? Getting a bit carried away is a small price to pay for generating so much momentum in the first place.

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8 Responses to “Grokky Jarvis Has Something to Say about the News”


  1. 1 Dale Conour 2007 July 19 at 4:48 pm

    Josh, I just tacked up your thoughts next to my computer to ponder. Thanks for thinkin’ them. I’ve written that Jarvis’s “hyperlocal” approach to news could also use a “mission”-getting people reconnected with their communities, including how they’re run, and offered up my own wishlist. Drop by sometime…emerson.typepad.com


  1. 1 BuzzMachine » Blog Archive » It’s about people Trackback on 2007 July 14 at 10:58 am
  2. 2 Aggregate Them This Way, That Way, Your Way, My Way « Network(ed)News Trackback on 2007 July 22 at 12:46 am
  3. 3 What Is Networked News? « Network(ed)News Trackback on 2007 July 25 at 2:18 pm
  4. 4 News Graph? « Network(ed)News Trackback on 2007 August 16 at 1:35 am
  5. 5 Breaking Content, Building Conversation « Network(ed)News Trackback on 2007 August 18 at 1:41 am
  6. 6 RE: Telling stories on the Web is like developing software using agile principles « Network(ed)News Trackback on 2007 October 18 at 2:42 am
  7. 7 The building blocks of news: topics and people too! « Network(ed)News Trackback on 2008 October 2 at 1:18 pm

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