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.

First Sources Video: A secured transparency platform for video

 

The Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership is looking for ideas on how to reinvent journalism, especially on the Web. To that end, they’re running a series of challenges. The first focuses on “unlocking video“:

 

Video is a central part of many people’s daily news experience. But most online video is still stuck in a boring embedded box, like “TV on a web page,” separated from the rest of the page content. This offers little in the way of context or opportunities for viewers to engage more deeply.

New open video tools make it possible to pull data from across the web right into the story. Information related to the video can literally “pop” into the page. And videos themselves can change, dynamically adapting as stories evolve. The challenge is to use these tools in ways that serve the story. How can we enrich news video through things like added context, deeper viewer engagement, and the real time web? What are the untapped possibilities inherent in many-to-many, web video?

Here is my entry:

FIRST SOURCES VIDEO: A secured, open platform for crowdsourced, trusted, pseudonymized and anonymized video.

Summary

First Sources is a secured, transparent video dissemination system that can be deployed in any locale, to any degree of granularity to free not only journalists, citizens, whistleblowers and other people of conscience to act in the public interest, but governments and other institutions as well.

First Sources will enable people and organizations to securely submit video and information anonymously or pseudonymously in real-time or asynchronously from any device, to an openly accessible platform so journalists and citizens can collaborate to surface public-interest information on-demand, or that may otherwise remain submerged.

The core of this system would be the ability to transmit anonymized or pseudonymized video securely while enabling participants to issue alerts for supply and demand of geolocated news.

Later phases of the implementation would apply either real-time machine or crowdsourced translation and subtitles, and make it possible for journalists and the public to collaborate around video objects. This collaboration would include but not be limited to real-time discussion, remixing and creating contextual narrative using other openly available online resources such as status updates, knowledge resources such as Wikipedia, online news and more.

First Sources’ initial phase or iteration would be primarily enabled by Tor or a similar technology, HTML 5 video, Popcorn and Butter.


Description

The partnerships between established and credible news organizations and the whistleblowing documents publisher WikiLeaks have dramatically reminded us of the power of documentary evidence to enable journalists to tell stories that alert and inform the citizens in a democratic society of how their public institutions operate — and of the news they don’t see. The bulk of this material is text, with notable exceptions such as the Collateral Murder video.

Waiting days, weeks, months or years for troves of text to be released poses a problem not only for dissemination of news and information needed in the present, but for consumption, comprehension and action: Humans are visual creatures.

One need only look at the movements for change boiling up across the Arab world to see the power of information, networked communications and bearing witness in person or from afar. Video is a key part of this equation.

The risk to those who would supply this video, real-time or short-term reportage and information is great.

First Sources is a secured, transparent video dissemination system that can be deployed in any locale, to any degree of granularity to free not only journalists, citizens, whistleblowers and other people of conscience to act in the public interest, but governments and other institutions, too.

First Sources will enable people and organizations to securely submit video and information anonymously or pseudonymously in real-time or asynchronously from any device, to an openly accessible platform so journalists and citizens can collaborate to surface public-interest information on-demand, or that may otherwise remain submerged.

Similarly, enlightened governments and other institutions could use such a platform to proactively release video and information to create and sustain an atmosphere of public transparency. By doing so, citizens could anonymously or pseudonymously retrieve the released video without fear of being monitored and its potential consequences.

By combining and automating the secured identity anonymizing/pseudonymizing function within the system, it helps to ensure that journalists, witnesses, whistleblowers or users of that video receive the maximum possible identity protection and minimizes the potential for reprisals.

Once deployed, the system would be openly accessible by members of the public, or a journalist could give a source a dynamically generated invitation key. This would also provide a secure channel for sources and journalists to communicate with each other.
Alerts for supply and demand of geolocated news would make it possible for journalists and the public to collaborate around video objects in real-time discussion, remix, and contextual federated narrative.

A virtual currency or scrip exchangeable across publishers using the platform could reward the public for contributing.

First Sources would bring global and national scale video-based transparency down to the state, provincial, city or even town or community level. The same kind of transparency enabled by international and national news organizations reporting on openly available original source video would be available to anyone at any level.