Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Editorial standards

I've been mulling over the question of maintaining editorial standards in a network of professional blogs. I'm imagining an online publication readers feel they can trust that consists of a network of freelance blogs. Yet, I want to have as little management as possible. A system that runs itself without oversight would be ideal, but is it possible?

Right now I'm reading We the Media by Dan Gillmor, who works at the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship. One of the points he keeps on driving home is that the Internet's greatest power is not simply interactivity. Allowing readers to comment? Simple interactivity. Harnessing the knowledge, creativity, and judgment of the readers to enforce editorial standards? That's open source press.

What I've been realizing is that the open source movement is about far more than just coding. Increasingly, individuals are being invested with the tools and knowledge to make change. It's happening in programming and in media. It's also happening in politics. Medicine too - with more and more information available to patients, it is now possible for patients to be far more informed about their more obscure health problems than a general practitioner can possibly be. Meanwhile, smart medical researchers may be looking to health forums for research questions.

Gillmor seems to be saying that as Internet technology evolves, it is handing us more and more tools that make centralization and management less and less crucial. Grassroots civic involvement and a more democratic process are just some of the possible benefits.

At the moment, I'd say that I agree with Gillmor. I'd be interested to read some thoughtful and pointed rebuttals, if anyone can point me towards one.

I'm also on the look out for well-written, succinct information on the open source coding movement. Information on how they do distributed project management, as well as a history of the philosophy and theory of the movement, would be key. Hook me up!

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