Archive for the 'David Weinberger' Category

Quick Thought on the New Likeness of Politics and News

Here’s a PDF to check out: Digital Government through Social Networks: A Natural Alliance?

If you’re crunched for time or lazy as can be, here’s the punchline (emphasis mine for those really, really in hurry):

For the past four years, the authors have been working on (as principle designer and as advisers) on a software platform designed to tap the “participatory surplus” of the citizenry. But, our experience and research has shown that to accomplish the aims of such a system, it is not enough simply to put citizens together into a large, open, virtual space. A social networking system designed for participatory governance needs to mirror some of the structure of the government itself, and needs to provide a range of structured ways by which the government and the citizens can affect one another.

Maybe that seems obvious, or maybe not. I happen to think it’s the whole enchilada. If you know the deep structure that underlies the activity or practice on top of which you want to build a business or a project, you’re halfway to knowing what your business or project should look like and how it should generally work.

That’s why Blaser, Weinberger, and Trippi identify what they call the “four reality principles” that “govern every campaign.” They identify viewpoints (aka issues), money, votes, and careers as the fundamentals. I’m not sure that’s correct, but getting to four is pretty good if it is.

Note that is is also why, thinking about journalism and the news, Dave Winer writes posts like this one, in which he identifies “sources, facts, ideas, opinions, [and] readers” as the fundamental “constituent components.” I tried to do the same thing here, here, and here.

So, is it the case that P, where P follows the structure of the tried and true SAT analogy?

news : journalism :: politics : governance

It’s the fundamental constituent components, stupid.

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What if the news looked like this?

news graph

See here (PDF). HT here.

PS. I wonder what enthusiastic answer David Weinberger might have to this question.

LATER: I’ve talked about a “news graph” before, mentioning “edges and nodes,” but I wasn’t yet thinking this fantastically. Still, I think it’s interesting stuff: “This kind of news graph would, at long last, make the bits of content contigent on the people and the issues they discuss. It’s the elegant organization for news.”

The information architecture must fit

I believe that the news business’s central financial struggle right now lies in its search for a new information architecture on top of which it can monetize its alchemy of products, like raw data, and services, like human and trust. This question of economics will determine, if only roughly, all of the answers to the questions about how we’re going to get our news from the news business, which I construe broadly.

Pinning that information architecture down is hard—for a lot of reasons. The biggest reason: it’s like a fish asking, “Morning boys, how’s the water?” (We’ll miss you, DFW.) The second-biggest reason: moving parts abound.

Let’s go through some of those moving parts—some tried-and-true and some previously latent and maybe unfamiliar—at as low a level as possible. Let’s not pretend to be exhaustive.

(1) Everything Is Miscellaneous. The Long Tail. Infinite variety. Radical unbundling. Micromedia. It’s called personalization, filtering, aggregating, and so forth.

(2) Feeds. Rivers of news. Because browsing and search are less efficient. News is what’s happening, not what happened.

(3) People care about other people. They trust businesses and algorithms, but they trust humans more. We love our friends, our celebrities. We gossip about people with people.

(4) Distribution is cheap. Content is therefore abundant and largely commodified. Attention costs dominate production costs. Fame beats fortune.

These four guide posts, however, can get us far down the right path, but that’s for later.


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