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Checkbox News

Tuesday, April 24, 2007 by Dave Winer.

A picture named accordion.gifYesterday's piece got the most positive and enthusiastic response of any technology I've proposed in the 10-plus years I've been blogging. I love it when an idea takes root like that. Perhaps it's a measure of how fed up we are with what passes for news on television.  Permalink to this paragraph

We live in a complex world, and many of us have minds and are educated, and want to understand what's going on. TV is not a bad way to do it, but the medium needs an overhaul in the age of the Internet. Our attention has mostly been focused on print, probably because we haven't felt we can do much about TV. But as yesterday's mockup shows, we're really not very far from turning TV news upside down much the same way RSS revolutionized written news. Permalink to this paragraph

To implement this style of news, two things are needed:

  1. The news has to be unbundled, each segment, each story, has to be available as a separate unit.

  2. Each item needs to be categorized, needs metadata, to fit into a folksonomy.
Both #1 and #2 are easily within reach given the current economics of TV news. They have the technical means to do the unbundling, some are already doing it (examples: 60 Minutes, NewsHour). And I'd guess that some news organizations are already generating the metadata for each story, and if not, many have the editorial staff to do it. Permalink to this paragraph

Once #1 and #2 are in place, just turn your news flow into a frequently updated podcast feed, and we can do the rest, building a variety of clients from Apple TV to the Windows Media Player, running on iPods and cell phones, laptops, desktops -- who knows where. All of it powered by the enormously simple idea of checkboxes.  Permalink to this paragraph

PS: A J-school prof at Cal told me that most reporters have absolutely no idea which of their stories people read or don't read. They're flying blind. I bet TV news people are too. Permalink to this paragraph

Scott Rosenberg: "Not only do most reporters have no idea which stories are read, many if not most don't want to know." Permalink to this paragraph

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Last update: 4/26/2007; 12:44:51 PM Pacific. "It's even worse than it appears."

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