GOPchop - yesterday helped Kees work on GOPchop. Created the website (derived from the original at his outflux site). Also helped him lay out a development roadmap. The nature of this project is quite different from ones I usually get involved with, in that it's already had its 1.0 release, and all the principle functionality has been coded. The work from 1.0 to 2.0 will revolve around "finishing" - debugging, documenting, etc. I think having the roadmap will help, since sometimes that kind of work can feel overwhelming if you don't have a tangible goal in sight.
WikiNews - Ted discussed a talk on Monopoly, Media, & the Right to Know discussing the over-corporatization of the news, the rise of blogging, and the cost of investigative journalism today.
I have found the intersection of news and the internet to be absolutely fascinating. I first learned about the WWW back in '93, before there were any news organizations out there. Today, only a decade later, the Internet has become a primary source of news for many people.
When my dad comes and visits, we have to drive down to the minimart to get a Sunday newspaper (he has to have his 'fix', he jokes). Meanwhile, I'm off in the computer room doing basically the samething, except with mouse clicks and photons instead of newsprint and ink... I sometimes wonder which of us is getting "better" news? I'm able to quickly filter through to exactly the stories I care about, but he probably gets broader insights. I can put my finger on *more* news, but he probably has the edge on local news. It's a tossup whether either of us is getting anything resembling truth; I know some people are concerned about newspapers becoming corporate dominated, and others worry that blogs are inadequately researched. But heck, news inaccuracy is nothing new; if I remember my U.S. History correctly, truth and the news media have been fickle bedpartners at best, and bias comes with the territory. The only realistic solution is the same one we were taught in school: "Think critically."
A while back I was watching a series about the history of communication mediums (newspapers, radio, tv, etc.) and it struck me that each medium has a principle "style" or "mode". When a new media technology comes along, it takes a while before people figure out how to use that mode. For example, when TV started it was used sort of like radio-with-pictures - advertisements were just radio jingles with some dancers for show. News programs were simply a well educated guy sitting at a desk reading the day's news stories. It took them a while to work out that the principle mode with TV is as a "window on the world", with live footage and on-location journalists. Once they did, it relegated radio to a secondary role for news reporting.
The program didn't really cover the Internet much that I recall, but if you think about it, the principle mode of the Internet is "interactivity". Anyone can be a publisher. We can (often) comment directly on stories. Through tools like CVS, Wiki, Blogs, and so on we often participate in *making* the stories.
With this view in mind, I'd conclude that the cnn.com style news sites (basically just a newspaper with hyperlinks), is a quaint attempt to adapt the principle mode of the printed world to the online world, and that things like Blogs, that allow the audience room to interact with the news, were inevitable.
We're already seeing the power of this new mode in other areas of culture/society/knowledge. The Open Source software movement is an easy example, but it's even having an impact outside of software circles. Wikipedia is probably the classic example of how tapping the principle mode of the Internet medium (interactivity) can be very powerful. It's weird that it worked so well; writing an online encyclopedia seems like the proverbial Sisyphean task, yet today it seems to have become the online world's primary source of fact. It's imperfect, but info in it is probably more reliable than you'd get from a random googling, more relevant than that antique set of tomes sitting on my bookshelf, and more up-to-the-minute than the local library.
Anyway, with all of the above in mind, I ran across WikiNews late last year. Basically the premise was simple - do for news what Wikipedia had done for fact. Even I thought it was a bit crazy - and I'm definitely no stranger to crazy ideas. But I'd just seen Outfoxed, and felt like we needed to start experimenting with some new ideas for news. I pitched in with a few articles, but found it a bit more time consuming than I was ready for. I figured it'd fizzle out eventually - I mean, who has time to write news articles every day?
Yet here we are, half a year later, and WikiNews is not only going strong, but I'm finding myself starting to use it as my primary source of news. They don't always have every article that cnn.com might have, but I actually like that; the bulk of stuff on the big news sites like CNN just seem too biased and corporate to me. But it does cover the important stories, with more factual integrity than you could expect from a blog. I think the thing I appreciate most about the stories is that I know they're getting scrutinized by many lovingly obsessive people with a passion for stomping out bias. I'm sure each of the news authors have their own axes to grind, but I'm also confident that the news that's there is (by definition) representative of things that real people care about.
Some day soon someone's going to figure out a way to combine Wikinews (for accurate up-to-the-minute news), blogs (for editorials and personal journalism), and Wikipedia (for peer-reviewed factual background). The public will be able to get involved in adding to the stories and correcting biases, share their own opinions directly on editorials, and when something newsworthy happens to them, be able to report on it in detail, directly. If corporate news is worrying about the impact of plain old blogs, wait 'til they see this...