Craig Newmark on How Facebook Could Advance a New Unit of Reporting

Craig Newmark on How Facebook Could Advance a New Unit of Reporting

The new Facebook stuff includes the concept of “social object” which is a fancy term meaning “something people want to talk about.” (Yes, we could use a new term.)

A social object could be the focus of all the reporting, fact checking, and discussion around a topic.

Facebook apps could be used to vote up or down posts based on factchecking and perceived trustworthiness.

Apps could be used to raise the priority of a topic, so we don’t forget big stories.

The deal is that a social object could be a living version of the whole story around a something.

The general observation has already been made, recently, when Jeff Jarvis built on a deep observation from Marissa Mayer at Google, in Buzzmachine:

I want to suggest abandoning the article for the constantly updated topic page (a la Wave). The problem with an article online is that it has a short half life and gathers few links and little ongoing attention and thus Googlejuice. It’s for this reason that Google’s Marissa Mayer has beenadvising publishers to move past the article to the topic.

Abandoning the article for some living, breathing news beast yet to be defined may be a bit too radical for today’s publishers. So instead, I suggest, at least place the article into a space with broader context – archives, quotes, photos, links, discussion, wikified knowledge about the topic, feeds of updates; make the article a gateway to anything more you’d want on its subjects. Daylife (where I’m a partner) is working on something like that.

The “short half life” of an article is why really the good reporting on WMDs and the financial crisis disappeared before they could inform the public. Failures of news curation like that not only hurt the country, but contribute to loss of trust in news media.

If you’re looking at a topic, it could be easy to keep the topic alive. We might have noticed that something was really fishy re WMDs or the suppression of financial regulation in the mid-2000′s.

Photo by benstein

Craig Alexander Newmark blogs at He is an Internet entrepreneur best known for being the founder of the San Francisco-based website Craigslist. more


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