Wednesday, January 16, 2008

more on the power of the commons

Sometimes I hit "publish" too quickly, before a thought has completely matured--that's certainly the case with the previous post. Because yeah, the Library of Congress photos are cool and all, but what's it got to do with journalism?

Ultimately, everything. It's a grand idea, harnessing users to do the heavy lifting on a project: it saves both money and time, expensive commodities in an ever-shrinking newsroom. But how do you apply it to news? Here's one idea, lifted directly from the new LOC/Flickr partnership:

Harness your readers to tag your stories. Throw the entire paper open for user tagging. Why? Because it will ultimately create an entirely new way to access your content. Allow tagged links to build a new information web, where opinion stories are linked with features across sections and cover dates; where unexpected connections are made through unpredictable links. It's too much work to dedicate staff, but if any reader could add their own tag terms it not only allows them to invest themselves in your content, but to utilize it more completely. Additionally, it builds a database with which to sell content-specific advertising against; one that's able to grow organically but doesn't require the processing power of a Google server cloud.

That's how the power of the commons can help to save journalism.