Human Editors vs Algorithms vs The Power of Collaboration

kinnon —  October 11, 2008 — 1 Comment

The power of the link
Read any of the online versions of newspapers that I do, and you will note that a lot of them suggest other articles. For the most part, these suggestions are being created by computer algorithms. However, my reality is that most of what I read online is filtered through the voices I have chosen to listen to – whether the Saturday link-a-thon from Brother Maynard or Scot McKnight, the political pointers from Drudge, Josh Marshall and Glenn Reynolds or the thousands of blog posts that act as way markers on this journey of insight and discovery.

Scot Karp, responding to the brilliance of people like Jeff Jarvis and Jay Rosen (both who’ve been infected by the Cluetrain idea virus) points to the power of collaboration for the news media:

…look at where the most innovative, entrepreneurial minds in journalism have focused their efforts — it’s all about collaboration:

Ryan Sholin just launched ReportingOn, a site where journalists share in short Twitter-like messages what they are reporting on — with the aim of actually HELPING each other. With fewer journalists in newsrooms doing original reporting, doesn’t it make perfect sense that more and better reporting could get done collaboratively? Why should a beat be a solo effort?

That’s is also the idea behind Beat Blogging, the brainchild of Jay Rosen, with journalism iconoclast Patrick Thornton now leading the charge. The idea is for journalists to develop social networks to improve their beat reporting — by collaborating with people involved with and interested in the topics they cover, journalists can do better reporting. (Beat Blogging is even collaborating to find great examples of beat blogging.)

Speaking of collaborating with communities, Mark Briggs, of Journalism 2.0 fame, co-founded a company called Serra Media, whose first product Newsgarden is a map-based local news platform that allows news orgs to collaborate with their communities to publish hyperlocal news. And their bet is that journalists and community members all posting hyperlocal news as they come across it can do a better job than algorithm-based local sites in judging what news is important to the community.

smalltribe.jpg The Power of Collective Intelligence, so brilliantly shown in the Linux model of collaborative development is both infecting and impacting every corner of human communication and endeavor.

I’m involved in a networked conspiracy of fellow missional travelers who are working to create a wiki-style resource center. It will point to the hundreds of coherent voices in the missional movement scattered across the expanse of these interwebs. Collaborative human editors will create the links to help map where this discussion and the ideas/stories it generates are going. No algorithms involved. Just passionate people embedded in the midst of the next reformation.



A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

One response to Human Editors vs Algorithms vs The Power of Collaboration

  1. so, in other words,

    do the math.

    adding together leads to geometric progression that brings wholeness, even though algorithms can parse the parts and make atomized suggestions.

    always did like math …


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