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Information communities require community-oriented media, not newsletters. A newsletter is dominantly a downstream communication channel, pushing information to the readership. Even a WebLog is downstream biased; authors write OpeningStatement that are expected to be read and reacted to by the readership. I think building an information community requires a more fluid communication channel, which is currently called PeerToPeer.

Now, a "journalistic" information community is really a subcommunity of the larger whole. Their purpose would be to tell stories to us about what the rest of us were doing, and to collect and organize information about events in general. Currently, we rely on newspapers and similar media to do our chronicling for us. For all intents and purposes, they are efficient enough at keeping us up to date at the events in the city, country, world. They aren't perfect, but it's a lot better than waiting for the balladeer to stroll by and sing us the stories of the day for his dinner.

Nonetheless, the modern news is focused primarily on up-to-date events. It is only a secondary effect that the newspapers also act as a repository of current history. For instance, at any decent research library you will find reels of of microfiche archiving the top newspapers. But this archiving is far from ideal when someone needs to follow events through history. It can't be. Newspapers are published individually each day, as separate publications; news clips are published individually period. A twenty year long story has no continuation in our modern news.

Indeed, the modern news breaks the fundamental concept that history is a timestream. Events flow into each other. The news is only the front of the stream. But the front of the stream is only defined by being in front of something, and that something would be the whole of history. So, a chronicle has be able to go back in time too.

Ultimately, I think--as I have stated on ArchivingNews--that a PeerToPeerJournalism site should not be a series of presented articles, but a chronicle of stored history and reactions. It would combine both of these roles: disseminating current events and building a repository of history.

Then, instead of modern journalism's failure that previous events must be reiterated in each story in order to provide context, each new event need merely be linked to prior events. The readers can delve as far back in time as they want. They can follow the multiple connected threads that form history. They can have the whole of history right there, to put together all at once, or to take apart event by each minute event.

News would only be a listing of the newest events (plus corrections). The chronicle would be the work done at once. Collaboration would ensure even the most personal events could become part of the whole, and it could ensure accuracy. Why submit a retraction when you can submit a correction?

Could you imagine a whole society connecting their stories to each other?

Ultimately, I think that is too fanciful a fantasy, but I can certainly see it pragmatically solve several problems. It would reduce the reiterated story problem; I don't want to hear about how "InformationWantsToBeFree" any more, if I can link directly to it and continue the discussion if it interests me. I do want to know how the U.S. presidential election affects the Microsoft antitrust trial without having someone explicitly making the connection for me. AccidentalLinking would be sufficient (and amazing, if you think about it).

And I definitely do want to separate concepts from events; some issues are outside of time, and some events effect issues. The subject and predicate distinction. For instance, intellectual property is an overly large subject that isn't just about the one event (predicate) of passing the DigitalMillenniumCopyrightAct?.

When I read the news, sometimes I'd like to know more about the concepts (or subjects) involved. And when I'm reading about subjects, I would like to know what the recent developments are. This bijective relationship can easily be established using BackLinks.

Furthermore, a persistant yet always fresh system would prevent some important topics from dying out, as they do currently when people forget the "olds" for the news.

And so on and so on. So that is what I think peer to peer journalism would really be. I don't think WebLogs are enough, but they were definitely that most important first step away from traditional media. Maybe the next step will be Rusty's WikiLog idea? -- SunirShah

I had a vague idea about a wiki-based newspaper-esque thing. It's a loopy idea. It would never work. But that's what most people say about wiki in general at first. And hey, if two people thought of it... (in the style of AlicesRestaurant)... if two people thought of it, then maybe... -- Tarquin

definitely a great idea -- BayleShanks

See also ArchivingNews, NewsWiki.

[CategoryWikiTechnology] [CategoryUnimplementedWikiTechnology]


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