Not surprisingly, there were dozens of submissions that suggested a way to “wikify” something, but I was a bit curious to find that only three of the entire three hundred proposals actually contained the word “dashboard.”
The idea of a breaking news dashboard is not entirely unique in itself, but it is still lacking on the web in a truly rich collaborative fashion. We’ve seen individual news outlets themselves provide a one stop shop type experience for breaking stories (i.e. The Guardian during the Copenhagen climate talks, The Huffington Post during the Tucson Shootings) but it only contains their selective coverage rather than a cross network experience.
Breaking news populates pretty quick on Wikipedia, but the experience is limited to the capabilities of the MediaWiki platform, and only those who are willing and capable of using the MediaWiki syntax to create it. Not to mention the lack of streaming tweets, images, video, maps, and all other forms of real time interaction.
There are many flavors of individual news dashboards (iGoogle, Netvibes, Pageflakes, Protopage, My Yahoo), but they are still missing true community features. These services do offer various levels of collaboration, but they all require a lot of moderation and are not anywhere near scalable for millions of people to contribute.
So how do we fix this?
Regnard Raquedan’s idea is to come up with a ranking system that determines a piece of media’s ability to make it to the front page of the dashboard, known as an REP (rich event page). That way editorial decisions are truly in the hands of the crowd and the dashboard is simply a window into what their seeing, or should be seeing, via REPRank. As you see by his mockup sketch, he’s thought of a useful layout to take in the information and keep tabs on what’s happening as it happens.
It’s tempting to debate the metrics and criteria for the REPRank system, but that will have to be a conversation for another day. Let’s just assume it works swimmingly, there is still one issue to overcome.
The much talked about filter bubble syndrome.
The problem with the old school media was that it acted as an authority and left out less popular, yet important voices. While intelligently crowdsourced media may offer more depth, how will it cover breadth?
Here’s an idea. What about two tabs at the top, one displaying a page with all the highest ranked materials nicely laid out, and another “waiting room” page that uses a list display, which anyone can add to. To avoid overload you could still sort it by date/time added, or with tags, and watch it work its way to the main page.
A commenter on Regnard’s submission page took the liberty to ask the platform question, just as he did for Chris Keller’s somewhat similar “living topic page” idea, and I think Regnard gave the correct answer, which is no platform. If the REP system were built, it would display natively in the web browser using HTML5, with a possible Android companion app to make it more mobile friendly. This lives a very wide open challenge to come up with a universal ranking system that can pick up media published from a diverse set of tools, but we enjoy challenges here, and I wish Regnard the best of luck in his pursuit.