KNC13 OPENGOV | OPEN BS DETECTOR: Baffle-speak sensing and contextualization | Knight News Challenge

OPEN BS DETECTOR | Baffle-speak sensing and contextualization

Short URL: http://j.mp/skknc13obsd

Twitter: @OpenBSDetector

Public officials too often rely on rote phrases devoid of real meaning (baffle-speak) when answering questions of public interest. Open BS Detector spots the sound bites, logs, tracks and alerts about them, and offers useful information and context.

THE TASK
Citizens and journalists need to be able to more quickly and easily discern fact from fiction or misdirection in statements by their politicians and public officials, put those statements in context, and get accurate facts to make informed decisions and take action.

SOLUTION
Open Baffle-Speak Detector will parse those comments and answers to questions, compare them to a historical record by the individual on a topic, and return statistical information, as well as verified facts to the individual seeking a better understanding of a subject and an official’s approach to it.

IMPLEMENTATION
Open Baffle-Speak Detector will have three modes to enable people to identify and contextualize the accuracy, veracity and utility of officials’ statements:

  1. A browser plug-in for use on news articles, online transcripts and other text or Web pages.
  2. Voice-recognition/transcription and a Shazam-like mode for real-time assessment.
  3. A photo/facial recognition and/or augmented reality function that enables the user to easily identify the individual, their track record and overall baffle-speak score.

Our preliminary research discussing this idea among people in the open government movement, journalism, and technologists has been met with enthusiasm. The technology to do this exists or is in development in other arenas, and simply needs to be brought together for an end-to-end, easy experience rather than a patchwork that results in a laborious series of tasks, or a lack of capability in this particular sphere. We plan to collaborate with as many developers of existing projects, tools and technologies as possible.

SIMILAR PROJECTS AND COLLABORATION OPPORTUNITIES
The Truth Goggles, Lazy Truth, Super PAC App, and Churnalism projects are a few examples of similar ideas with different applications and approaches. They focus on parsing text or standardized data. None handle live, real-time input. Open Baffle-Speak Detector will stitch these approaches together for a robust, on-demand tool that works in live situations.

CURRENT STATUS
We have not commenced development on Open Baffle-Speak Detector, but have had initial contacts with people working on other and related projects. We will collaborate and build on Truth Goggles, Hyperaudio and other projects as much as possible to avoid duplicating work.

TEAM
Saleem Khan: Project leader, journalist [editor and reporter, ex- CBC, Metro International, Toronto Star newspapers; chairman/director, Canadian Association of Journalists]; advisor, University of Toronto ThingTank Lab [Faculty of Information]; founder, invstg8.net.

Collaborators & Advisors:
M. Boas: OpenNews Fellow 2012. Hyperaudio leader, jPlayer HTML5 media library project coordinator, open Web developer.
L. Gridinoc: OpenNews Fellow 2012. Creative technologist specializing in computational linguistics, semantic Web, and visual analytics.
P. Hunter: Over 20 years designing productive interactions between people and technology; expertise in speech recognition, software tools, and education; Fellow in the Leading by Design program at California College of the Arts; veteran of three start-up businesses; currently at Microsoft.
K. Kaushansky: Two decades specializing in speech recognition, voice user interface design, interactive audio experiences, speaker verification, and voice biometrics at startups and global technology firms, including Nortel and Microsoft. Currently at Jawbone.
K. Khan: User experience strategist and designer consulting to governments and Global 1000 corporations, OCAD University sLab advisor; leader of UXI, Canada’s largest UX professionals group.
H. Leson: Director of community engagement, Ushahidi; open source community developer, library and information technician.
M. Saniga, CA: Co-founder, near-realtime business intelligence/data insight generation software firm Quant Inc.; former finance director and manager at Cara, Dell.

FUNDING AND TIMELINE
We anticipate that Open Baffle-Speak Detector will gain interest and uptake among civic development and open government foundations, news organizations, and real-time intelligence companies and investors which would continue to fund development and custom or applications-specific versions.

ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY
Open Baffle Speak Detector is a tool that empowers citizens to identify when public officials give rote vs. real answers in their statements, and adds verified factual context.

LOCATION
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

KNC13 OPENGOV | OPENLYNX: Streamlined citizen information tool | Knight News Challenge 2013

One of my entries for the 2013 Knight News Challenge for OpenGov [open government]:

OPENLYNX | Streamlined question, routing and information tool for citizens to get access to public-held information

OpenLynx enables citizens to submit information queries and receive responses via low-bandwidth communication technologies accessible with basic mobile phones — such as text and SMS messages, e-mail and a lean/mobile Web site — to enable everyone to gain access to civic information otherwise unavailable to them.

THE TASK
Access to civic information, resources and services are limited by knowledge of methods, and access technology, which can put government out of reach of some citizens. OpenLynx aims to surmount those barriers by making it easy to connect to government.

SOLUTION
OpenLynx will enable citizens to submit a question or information request, and receive an automated reply with the requested information, or have the request routed to the most appropriate government official for a response. In cases where access to information is restricted, OpenLynx will enable people to submit a freedom-of-information request, or contact a journalist to propose a story or investigation, even from a basic mobile phone.

IMPLEMENTATION
OpenLynx will allow citizens to submit civic information requests via:

  1. Text or SMS
  2. Web
  3. Smartphone app.

All of these modes will be processed through a single engine that will draw on a database of common questions and responses to automatically respond, or pass on the request to a person if the answer is not readily available.

SIMILAR PROJECTS AND COLLABORATION OPPORTUNITIES
A preliminary search has not revealed anyone taking this particular approach to public information requests, although some municipalities have a 311 information service. There are open source dispatch and support ticket software projects that we could build on, but nothing we could use “out of the box” with only cosmetic or minor modification. We anticipate being able to collaborate with the invstg8.net project, which is already building a flat request-and-answer system. We have been in touch with FOIAMachine about collaborating on providing the FOI function, and Document Cloud as another source of information.

CURRENT STATUS
A proof-of-concept of the question submission, parsing, assessment, routing, handling and response engine is in development as part of the invstg8.net project. We anticipate having access to a demonstration version of a proof-of-concept engine by early summer.

TEAM
Saleem Khan: Project leader, journalist [editor and reporter, ex- CBC, Metro International, Toronto Star newspapers; chairman/director, Canadian Association of Journalists]; advisor, University of Toronto ThingTank Lab [Faculty of Information]; founder, invstg8.net.

Collaborators & Advisors:
M. Boas: OpenNews Fellow 2012. Hyperaudio leader, jPlayer HTML5 media library project coordinator, open Web developer.
L. Gridinoc: OpenNews Fellow 2012. Creative technologist specializing in computational linguistics, semantic Web, and visual analytics.
K. Khan: User experience strategist and designer, OCAD University sLab advisor; leader of UXI, Canada’s largest UX professionals group
H. Leson: Director of community engagement, Ushahidi; open source community developer, library and information technician.
M. Saniga, CA: Co-founder, near-realtime business intelligence/data insight generation software firm Quant Inc.; former finance director and manager at Cara, Dell.

SUSTAINABILITY AND FUNDING
We anticipate that OpenLynx will gain interest and uptake among governments seeking to improve engagement with citizens and reduce costs, civic development and open government foundations, news organizations, transparency groups, and any company or organization with an interest in gaining access to government information quickly and easily. We believe the tool would also have application to customer relations and community management by for-profit enterprises, which may lead to customized for-profit versions that could help to fund development of the public-interest tool.

ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY
OpenLynx empowers citizens to gain access to government information and services irrespective of their skill at navigating government channels or access to technology.

LOCATION
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

BREAK THE NEWS: Shape, expore, remix

The Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership is seeking ideas on how to reinvent journalism for the open Web, so they’re running a series of challenges. The first Knight-Mozilla challenge focused on “unlocking video,” the second aims to solve the news comments problem by going beyond comment threads, and the third is a blue-sky effort to find the “Open Web’s Killer App,” later narrowed to “People-Powered News.” [which I think is too narrow a focus but was already the foundation of my idea]:

What should a news website look like in 2011 and beyond?

MoJo Knight Mozilla News Technology challenge open Web's killer app logo / people-powered news

This challenge is a broad one: what would you build on the web that actually makes news better for the people who create and read it? How would you involve the public in the news making, editing or sharing process? The only constraint: your idea should be built using open technologies and languages.

We’re asking you to forget old conventions like the story form, column inches & deadlines and propose new ways to connect news producers to news readers.

Here’s my proposal:

BREAK THE NEWS: Shape, explore, remix

Summary

Break the News dismantles the traditional news collection and dissemination structures and reassembles them in a unified approach that allows the news community to shape, explore and remix.

Description

The future of news is open and collaborative, but also evolving to incorporate a number of new technologies, modes of access and devices, some of which are not yet widespread.

The best prototype of where news is headed can be seen in Al Jazeera’s The Stream, which bridges the Web and traditional broadcast, aggregates crowdsourced story ideas, videos and other content, and engages its community in an authentic conversation.

The Break the News model is similar to this but recognizes that the principal nature of a thing changes when its scale and medium change. To this end, the new model of news resides on the open Web, assembled into objects for context-aware aggregation, curation and dissemination of visual content, conversational streams, geolocative, gestural, haptic, collaborative and algorithmic layers for the bridge to emergent devices and physical-world intelligent/enabled objects.

As commonplace objects become both displays or output devices as well as seamless input or information-gathering devices that are holistic and pervasive in both of those modes, the Break the News integrated platform will interactively and intelligently employ these channels, either automatically or with the assistance of a human operator or permission-based automated AI/expert system.

Among the Break the News digital objects is a collaboration channel or tool that enables people to securely share and manage information, documents, multimedia or other binary data for potential initiation of, or inclusion in, a “story.” [The word “story” is expressed in quotation marks to denote that the traditional narrative forms that have been widespread and commonly accepted until now is just a subset of what we will soon come to consider a story.] This content can be handled with varying degrees of security and distribution, contingent on the wishes of the source or agreement between source and journalist.

Break the News would also enable its community to remix the streams for different perspectives and relevant understanding of context.

This system would span both a high-fidelity Web experience and a low-fidelity one to account for regional disparities in network access and technology. Break the News would be a medium to convey and collaborate on information, minimizing the barriers between people and access to resources, including those among journalists. Web-based gateways could bridge low-fidelity information technologies outmoded in the North to the cutting-edge technologies that may not be commonplace in South.

Break the News is more than the sum of its parts, some of which I have already described more fully in proposals for video and commenting challenges, and much — if not all — of which is possible today. It is a platform that shatters the procedural, institutional and cultural barriers in the daily practice of journalism to instead allow the free flow of ideas and information for a more open, transparent and democratic model of news media.

Comments Holistic Open Platform: How to fix news comments

The Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership is seeking ideas on how to reinvent journalism for the open Web, so they’re running a series of challenges. The first Knight-Mozilla challenge focused on “unlocking video.” The second aims to solve the news comments problem by going beyond comment threads:

One of the best things about the web is that it enables many voices to be heard. Blogs, comment threads, forums, and social networks empower people to take part in new kinds of discussion, dialogue, and debate.

The best discussions around the web can be pretty isolated. Take comments, tweets, and other fragments out of their original context, and they can become meaningless. And take a look below the fold—in comment threads at news outlets, political blogs, YouTube, and elsewhere, you’ll often find that the loudest voices drown out everyone else.

Knight-Mozilla News Challenge - Beyond Comment Threads logo: AtomAt the same time, media is moving beyond the traditional “news story” as the only unit for commenting and interaction, stretching to include narrative arcs of multiple stories over periods of time, “explainers” that provide background knowledge for strings of stories, “streams” that include initial reports followed by updates and corrections, and more.

With all that activity happening across the web, how do we enable more coherent, elevated discussion? How can news organizations improve the signal-to-noise ratio in public news commentary?

Here’s my proposal:

Summary

COMMENTS HOLISTIC OPEN PLATFORM

This is a holistic approach to what I see as the five major problems facing comments today and in the near to medium term.

  1. QUALITY. The major problem in commenting on news sites today is finding a way to maintain high-quality discussions.
  2. DISCOVERY/PERSISTENCE. Commenting is fragmented and no system properly federates them.
  3. COMMENT FORMATS. No truly transmedia commenting system exists.
  4. CONTEXT AWARENESS. Commenting systems don’t address people’s needs in various device, temporal and physical contexts.
  5. EMERGENT MEDIA. There is no standard for comments in emergent media and platforms. Each element of this plan can be developed separately, or as part of a phased, holistic solution.

 

Description

1. QUALITY

Maintaining high-quality discussions.

    a) Community ranking / moderation + TrustRankCommunity ranking’s fundamental flaw: It rewards popular ideas and unpopular ones are often submerged. To offset this, an algorithm could assign a TrustRank score that surfaces comments from trusted people on a sliding scale weighted by the viewer. TrustRank improves over time and volume of comments.
    b) Semantic / sentiment parsing e.g. SentimentRankCommunity or algorithmic ranking and/or parsing of meaning and sentiment would assign a score viewers could weight. SentimentRank would find commenters with a similar temperament and outlook and help determine which comments they see. This improves over time and volume of comments and participants.
    c) Crowdsourced or automated summaries of longer comment posts
    As comments accumulate, reviewing and understanding the discourse can become onerous. Volunteers or an algorithm could identify and summarize key themes for brief, headline-style summaries to help viewers discover and understand context.
    d) Aggregate summaries and sentiment scores into heatmap / graph / that surfaces key points
    Rankings can be visually displayed in a map or graph. This would help to surface key thematic comment clusters that the viewer could drill down on for finer granularity.
    e) Badges / incentives / credits or scrip toward paid services for commenting
    Commenters receive rank badges to enable viewers to quickly assess the quality of an individual comment in a historical context. This could be combined with credit or scrip system that news organizations can use to reward commenters toward paid services. The open platform would make rewards portable across outlets using it.
    f) Trust circles, connected communities on other networks, TrustRank + SentimentRank sort
    Subject to individual preferences, people see comments from friends in social networks, extended networks, then people outside their networks.
    g) Present commenter with others’ comments inconsistent with own views
    Combine factors to offer viewers comments that oppose their own, to help stimulate meaningful debate vs. a cargo cult.

 

2. DISCOVERY / PERSISTENCE

Commenting is fragmented. While multiple platforms exist to federate comments, they still occur in isolated islands. To address this:

    a) Open standard that federates and categorizes comments
    Federate across services: blogs, status, chat, photo, video, text, SMS, etc. (Opt-in.)
    b) Visual / audio / tactile clustering
    Comment systems are heavily biased toward educated, literate, able-bodied individuals. Inclusive commenting systems would also assist the fully able. Standardized/automated markup would help identify and enable content federation for the multimedia and emerging sensory/haptic Web and enabled devices. People could navigate comment heatmaps parsed for subject, sentiment and trust through visuals, audio or tactile/force feedback. Similarly, content types could be toggled as comment options.
    c) Static vs. real-time
    Static comment threads are easy to hijack. Real-time commenting and discussion archived or parsed for inclusion in a historical forum/thread would enable actual discussions vs. turn-based commenting and repetitive or irrelevant crosstalk.

 

3. CONTENT FORMS

Transmedia comments vs. plain text.

    a) Text – Real-time commenting and discussion into archived/threaded forum enables collaboration with journalists on a story before publication-to-deadline, and fosters higher quality ongoing commentary and story development post-deadline. Granular word/sentence/paragraph level comments can be tagged.
    b) Images – Image-post comments for people with varying time, literacy and forms of self-expression. Character recognition and transmedia publication for any text within images, sentiment-parsing for facial expressions or gestures, and image summaries can be extracted and posted via community scoring or algorithm.
    c) Audio – Audio comments can be parsed as text and ranked for sentiment and trust.
    d) Video – Video comments (time delimited) can be parsed into text posted with and/or annotating video. To sort multiple video comments, they would be thumbnail stacks akin to BumpTop’s concept. Brushing a clustered stack would surface the video thumbnail on a card with the commenter’s profile, semantic TrustRank + SentimentRank score and/or graph, personality matching, and a capsule comment summary.

 

4. CONTEXT AWARENESS

The type of comment a person can leave often depends on time of day or their physical location:

    Office / mobile: Likely fosters shorter comments.
    Home / tablet: Likely fosters longer comments.
    Sorting and serving up comments to viewers and commenters based on set preferences, time of day and physical contexts including Web-enabled objects could foster higher quality discussions by reducing the frustration factor for commenters and viewers.

 

5. EMERGENT MEDIA

    a) Projected/sensors: Pico-projectors, digital vision, tactile and other sensors can shift comments from a solitary experience to a shared one. Collaboration in physical space is essential.
    b) Wearable: Personal augmented reality and wearable displays demand that comment systems include the ability to interact in real-time and with geolocated and physical, Web-aware objects.