In my trainings on social media, one of the things I mention is a quote from Cory Doctorow in Locus Magazine where he says to "think like a dandelion." Centralized control is difficult to maintain and ultimately creates a cost center for publishers because, as Doctorow points out, "Remember, copying is a cost-center — insisting that all copies must be downloaded from your site and only your site is insisting that you — and only you — will bear the cost of making those copies.”
Doctorow argues for the creation of mechanisms to let others distribute media on your behalf without formality - "no logins, no e-mail address collections, and with a license that allows your fans to reproduce the work on their own in order to share it with more potential fans." As he sees it, there is a holy triumvirate of files; plain text, HTML and PDF. For most content creators, embeds allow something similar enough and when you combine various presences on social media networks, you really get to a model like a dandelion. As Doctorow says, "dandelions don't keep track of their seeds."
As a method of distribution, that makes sense. But surely if dandelions had the chance to see which of their seeds fell on stony ground, they’d want to know! I'd argue that it's both possible and preferable to have dandelion-like distribution methods, but with the ability to keep track of what content is in which place. The way forward is through the creation of widgets for each "seed," each presence on a social media network, each piece of data relevant to news collection, all in one place.
That's one of the reasons why Newscoop 3.5, the next version of our CMS, will have a completely redesigned interface for administering content. It will allow the creation and management of widgets to serve the functions reporters and editors find most useful. Need to track what people are saying about your content on Twitter? Add a widget. Need to see which of your site's articles are most popular right now? Add a widget. Move them around to your liking and freeze it when you're done.
There will be a base set of widgets created by Newscoop's developers for common functions like managing articles and authors, but we're also making it easy for site administrators and third-party developers to create their own widgets. Some of the ones we've thought of so far include a widget for monitoring Status.net messages (think of it as a private Twitter for the newsroom) or Google Calendars for forward planning. The widget interface will use jQuery, so it will be straightforward to roll your own.
Work on the new admin interface is underway, and Newscoop 3.5 is released on January 31st 2011. Feel free to drop in on our progress on the Newscoop developers' forum, or check out the tickets and code commits at our bug tracker.
If you're interested in becoming a Newscoop implementor, or if you're a newspaper wanting to know how Newscoop can improve your productivity, visit our Services pages.
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