Cline's Upcoming Analysis & Scaling Collaborative Journalism

kentbye's picture
| | | | |

Dr. Cline informs me that his analysis of The Echo Chamber's Jay Rosen's interview is nearing completion and will be posted here soon.

Cline's long-form analysis are well-suited for his Rhetorica blog, and it will definitely be helpful to me in finding the emergent themes within the 40+ hours of interview footage.

In the larger context of this collaborative, open source project, long-form analyses would only be scalable to a couple of dozen participants. If 30 or 100 or 1000 people wanted to start doing similar analyses, then it'd start to be just as much work to condense the analyses into actionable information than it would to condense the actual interviews into a coherent film.

In order to handle this type of large-scale input, I'd need to have an ecosystem of analysts who to help condense these analyses.

By creating some intermediate steps, here's how I envision how to better facilitate this type of input:

* Break the interviews into soundbites.
* Make each soundbite into a dedicated node with a unique URL.
* Develop Drupal Modules to facilitate this and to create del.icio.us-like tag aggregation.
* Have users tag the soundbites with metadata.
* Normalize and quantify emergent themes from the tagged maps of context.

This is what I've laid out in my first phase of post-production, and talk more about in my Swarm Intelligence Journalism blog entry. I think that these intermediate steps would definitely help me and other analysts digest the longer-form analyses and help with sorting the wheat from the chaff.

At the Personal Democracy Forum, Martin Kearns said something to the effect of, 'You have to figure out how to use volunteers for 10 minutes -- if you can't put someone to work for 10 minutes, then you're not ready for the 21st Century of political organizing.' This is a paraphrase of course, but it applies to collaborative citizen journalism and distributed investigative journalism.

Wikipedia implements this concept brilliantly, and I'm in the process of trying to figure out how to productively tap into the Wisdom of the Crowd to harness Dan Gillmor's aphorism, "Collectively, my readers know more than I do."

Starting with tags is a low barrier to entry, and it could actually help the volunteers create better analyses. By tagging context at the micro soundbite level can help the volunteer discover the emergent thematic patterns and help them break out of the limited capacity of their working memory.

Clay Shirky's recent essay "Ontology is Overrated: Categories, Links, and Tags" provides a lot of excellent metaphors and graphs that describe exactly what I'm trying to accomplish.

Shirky provides a graph showing "different tag 'signatures' for different URLs ." I would love to have a "tag signature" for each soundbite of my film -- it would help me juxtapose soundbites and edit together streams of overlapping meaning. This ultimately is what documentary filmmaking is all about.

I brainstormed with Moshe Weitzman the Drupal modules that need to be developed in order to make this first phase happen, and I'm in the process of continuing to spec it out and find some developers with some time to get this ball rolling.

Dr. Cline, do you have any additional thoughts?