Posted by: structureofnews | August 25, 2010

The Teeming Masses

So if the thinking on structured journalism makes sense, that should be good for professional news organizations, which can force teams of reporters to write to a certain format, ensure a level of quality, and build the applications that will extract the information later on.

What about the teeming masses of bloggers?

In theory, there’s value in it for them too, although it will require a company/platform like wordpress or blogger to set up a standard and allow them to use it. Again, it’s as simple as building a field that allows a blogger to write a summary of a post, say, or find ways to sort and categorize their postings as they post them.

It’s not dissimilar from giving them tags. The difference is that the tags are really data fields, and they apply to paragraphs or words, rather than to the posting as a whole. And in some cases – such as a summary – it requires the blogger to write something new to fit into a new data field.

What’s in it for them? It should make the site easier to use and search, especially for people who are reading older posts. If there’s a standard that Google can impose/encourage, in theory that could build up metasites on the same subject, where summaries can easily be sorted and displayed, where metadata can be aggregated, and new content, in effect, created.

That may take some power away from some bloggers, it’s true, but like common languages and common railway gauges, it should also allow them to more easily integrate their content with people using the same standards – and hence give them more ability to really improve their site.

If you’re building your own railroad engine, and everyone has their own kind of railroad track, you can’t go very far. But if all tracks are the same width – well, the world is your oyster.

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