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.