Sunday, June 12, 2011

The great comment challenge

Columbia journalism Review:
“Beyond Comment Threads” is a Knight-Mozilla challenge to radically reimagine the traditional comment format—and they’re doing it by imagining they are starting from a blank slate. Along the way, everything that has gradually become commonplace over time must be questioned. For instance: Why do so many sites display comments chronologically, when it makes so much more sense to group them in thematic conversations? Why should a comment written on the bottom of one story always be associated with just that one story, isolated from the rest of the online conversation that’s happening externally from that website?
The Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership—called MoJo for short, a combination of Mozilla and Journalism—is a new collaboration between the Knight Foundation and the Mozilla Foundation (the nonprofit creators of the open-source browser Firefox) to explore new technology for online news production. It is looking to find fifteen fellows to place in newsrooms around the world. This year’s news partners include Al Jazeera, the BBC, The Guardian, Germany’s daily paper Die Zeit, and The Boston Globe.
One of the ways that comments could be better contextualized, Moskowitz explains, would be by creating a program that would facilitate “global commenting.” That is, a program that would embed comments with metadata—about the comment’s author, the topic of the piece the comment was attached to, even the commenter’s particular point of view—that could then allow that comment to be automatically incorporated into other relevant online conversations outside of the particular thread where it first appeared.

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