No, not MTV’s Real World.
I was always an MTV “The Grind” fan anyway. Well that’s another story . . .
I call this post “Hello Real World” since the blog already had a “Hello World” post and in fact only one more post that was actually a test to see if my RSS feed would get posted to @journalab on Twitter via a service I created called brisk.ly. Use it at your own risk. ; )
Anyway, I’ve joined the Knight-Mozilla Learning Lab and am honored to take part. So now this blog has a REAL purpose.
Less yak, more hack.
Fuck the ode, write the code.
Yes, the whole point of the learning lab (besides learning) is to actually APPLY the learning. Not ponder it.
And applying here means to openly iterate on an idea. The goal is to figure out what problems in the online news world need to be solved. So here goes.
We need to make news better.
1. How can we do this?
Right off the top of my head I’d say by “bringing more news of personal interest to the news consumer”. In other words, more relevance. To hyper-personalize the news. Help everyone break through the clutter.
I’m probably wrong, but we go with that anyway for now.
2. How can we achieve this?
Well, a popular idea is using one’s social network to help filter information that is of interest to us. That’s a fine idea but it’s always bothered me a little. Even someone as close as my wife has some shared interests and some not. (She wouldn’t read this!)
Only the most boring people hang around with others that are exactly like them. I have no scientific evidence to support that claim but I’m going to go with it anyway.
I think it’s likely that we each have sub-social-graphs that are meaningful. Hyperlocal graph. Geek graph. Food graph. Beer lover graph. That one is scary.
Google must think that’s true too if they want us to create all these circles.
I don’t really care what circle you are in if you’ve got a lead for a piece of news that is of interest to me. In fact, I don’t even care if I know you.
So that leads to a possible answer.
What if we could gain information from everyone about the things that are of interest to us?
Sounds good. Two new questions arise.
1. How do we request our interests?
2. How do others (and we) respond to those requests?
Sites like Del.icio.us worked because individuals acted in their own self interest but the cumulative result was something greater than the individual parts.
Give the users a reason to contribute that will immediately benefit them and harvest that usage to benefit the community at large.
How? Next episode. Hint.