Voting on the freshness of an article

A Twitter idea that I want to make sure gets archived somewhere so that I can build it later: it would be really cool if, as a reader and news consumer, I could indicate graf by graf on an article whether “I already knew that” information or “this is news to me.” For someone reading a lot of the #swineflu coverage, it seems as though most of the articles are largely rehashed information that I’ve seen elsewhere. Empowering the user to give feedback as to whether they’ve heard the information before will allow the news organization to focus more on providing new and unique coverage.

This data generated by ranking the freshness of information would immediately begin to build profiles of what the reader knows. If they’re logged in, the news organization could put this information on what they’re indicating they know and don’t know in a database, start aggregating it, and then feed the reader related links and stories on similar topics. Related information, however, would now be determined by both topical metadata and a virtual profile of their knowledge base. On the front end, the data that the readership is contributing could go towards a rating of how “fresh” the article is. If the organization were really forward-thinking, the content of the article could then depend on this profile of how much the reader knew.

Voilà. Another new format for news.

#swineflu and the changing news ecology

On Saturday, I spent the day discussing the evolution of the news at BarCamp NewsInnovation Philly. It was something I had planned on attending for over a month and, as such, I had a pretty good idea on Thursday and Friday of what I wanted to discuss. With the story of swine flu infections breaking all around us, though, I was certain we had something new that we had to talk about: the role of the news organization in an ecosystem with multiplying non-traditional means for information dissemination.

It’s the biggest story of the weekend, no doubt, but there’s a meta-discussion to be had too. I first caught wind of the story late Friday night while waiting for Sean Blanda to pick me up from PHL. Processing through Google Reader, I briefly skimmed Xark!’s “Flu: Don’t panic, but pay attention.” The honest truth, however, is that I didn’t pay attention and it didn’t stick. The next morning as we drove to Temple University for #bcniphilly I was skimming through Google Reader on my iPhone again. This time I came across a post from Vinay Gupta on how you should take action if it becomes a pandemic flu (i.e. what steps you should take to be proactive). His perspective is what perked my interest to learn more.

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