Only Connect

I keep trying to rethink my, as yet, nameless idea. It all comes back to the same problem. How do I turn the abstract ambition of “linking everything” into a simple, easily understandable and ,above all, tangible product? So far, I’ve been attacking the problem from the comments up. But part of that meant identifying that comments and articles are just the same thing. So why not just call them all articles? Then I can approach the problem from the perspective of the writer, editor and publisher.

So that got me to thinking about text entry, like the text box I’m using now. I can link to things, of course, but there’s no semantic element to the link. I can tag my posts but why would I when those tags mean nothing outside the confines of my small blog? I want to put semantic tools unavoidably at the heart of text entry on the web. Quoting, referencing, replying, amending – all there automatically and every article subject to the analytical scrutiny of the community.

Anyway, here’s an attempt at selling such a thing as a socially aware user feedback tool (mockups to follow):

News media outlets are desperate to engage with their viewers/readers/listeners – more now than ever before. But what becomes of all those heartfelt responses from individuals so moved by a story that they take time out of their day to register their opinion with a trusted organisation? Very little. A handful of the least defamatory statements get read out at the end of a TV show. A stream of random responses get tacked onto the end of a web article. Only talk radio gives respondents any respect but even there, it’s the host that dictates the agenda.

So where do the disenfranchised go? Facebook and Twitter, that’s where. That’s where all the reaction, gossip, speculation and debate happens around news stories. Are the news media jealous? You bet. Are they doing anything about it? Meh… not so much.

What if the broadcast was only the beginning? What if a news media website could be as much a part of a person’s political life as their blog and their Facebook and Twitter accounts?

  • Post an article on your favourite news site
  • Quote, copy and/or link to that article on Twitter, Facebook or anywhere else
  • Respond to other people’s articles
  • Have others respond to your articles
  • Reference anything anywhere on the web
  • Create feeds for your articles
  • Create feeds of other people’s articles
  • Filter and sort feeds by time, subject and author
  • Organise your articles with tags
  • Organise everything with tags
  • Share your tags with the world
  • Explore stories by tags
  • Get recommendations based on how you and other people are tagging
  • Make your own front page from your feeds and other people’s
  • Share that page with the world

And that’s that. Now I realise that feature list is a bit random and much of it could be said of any bog standard blog. I’m still exploring my idea, in search of the USP and MVP. Hopefully some more prototyping will clarify things.

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