The news underground
Rachel Maddow tells the story of a blogger who saved a vital USDA database by doing what he's good at. We need to do the same for news.
by Dave Winer Thursday, February 9, 2017

try to watch the Rachel Maddow show every night. It's really good and they're doing good. Unlike other shows that are still stuck in horserace mode, if you can believe that, Maddow has the guts to report on the world we're in now, the one that needs us to save it.

Anyway, reporting on a blogger who did a backup of the USDA website that they took offline, she said something like this --

We should all do what we're good at.

I had more or less come to that conclusion. It's why I so desperately want to help news get on solid distributed ground where it can be not-so-easily controlled by a crooked and corrupt government.

All that's missing are users and developers.

Users who will use the product of the open systems created by the developers. The technology to create an open news ecosystem is trivial. And it doesn't need to be implemented. It already exists.

This is the amazing thing -- it already exists. Say that 100 times.

It already exists and WE AREN'T USING IT.

That's a crime. 

To developers

This originally appeared as a tweet. Since many of the people who read this blog are developers, I should say where, if you want to get involved, you could start.

To be a good developer you first have to become a user. So I would recommend downloading and installing River5. You don't need a server to run it. Set it up to follow some feeds you like, let it run for a few days. Visit the river page several times a day. Add more feeds if you want. 

This is an open news system. That's all there is to it. You don't have to be much of a developer to set one of these up.

Now what can you do with it? Put it on a public instance at AWS or Digital Ocean or where ever you like to host. It should be part of your political group. Or if you work at a news pub, it should be something you provide as a service to your editorial people. Let them tell you what to subscribe to.

That should give you more ideas. Build! Serve your users. Help open news thrive. We need it to survive. 

To users

But wait there's stuff users can do too!

First thing, can you find a developer to set up a river for you, as described above? If so, send them to this page. Make sure they know how much you love and appreciate them, and how important their work is to the cause. Take your developer friend to lunch. It's a little secret, programmers like to be appreciated, pretty much like other people. :balloon:

Until then, you can start using my rivers. I did what I describe above. I have one for politics, one for the NBA, a river of podcasts. These are of course just examples, but they are useful on their own. These are total labors of love, I'm not trying to sell you anything other than our freedom to share what we learn without using centralized systems. It's going to be really important if things go badly.