How Google Wave, wikis and the Web could reshape the news

Jeff Jarvis often encourages his readers to think about news in the Web ecosystem as a “process,” rather than as a product. Commenting on the preview of Google Wave, Jarvis expands on that idea:

In Wave, I see more than a new generation of email cum wikis cum Twitter cum groupware. Because it can feed blog and web pages and Twitter, I see a new way to create content, collaborative and live. I see a new way to make news.

Imagine a team of reporters – together with witnesses on the scene – able to contribute photos and news to the same Wave (formerly known as a story or a page). One can write up what is known; a witness can add facts from the scene and photos; an editor or reader can ask questions. And it is all contained under a single address – a permalink for the story – that is constantly updated from a collaborative team.

Jarvis’ point about the collaborative nature of future news is echoed by Paul Gillin, writing for Newspaper Death Watch:

Wikis are important metaphor for newsgathering.  They enable multiple authors to flexibly contribute information and edit each other’s entries to build a kind of living news account.  Wikipedia is, in many ways, a metaphor for the newspaper of the future. …

Wave takes the wiki model to a new level with the addition of Twitter-like immediacy along with classic e-mail and discussion techniques like the inbox and threading. Wave also has the ability to handle just about any kind of file you can throw at it.  Adding documents, webpages and media to a Wave workspace is a drag-and-drop procedure, and once the content is there, everyone can edit it.

To give this some real-world context, and get back to the idea of news as a process, here’s Online Journalism Blog’s Paul Bradshaw describing his “platform for crowdsourcing investigative journalism,” Help Me Investigate:

Investigative journalism is about more than just ‘telling a story’; it is about enlightening, empowering and making a positive difference. And the web offers enormous potential here – but users must be involved in the process and have ownership of the agenda. …

… Likewise, the web is more of a communication medium than a storytelling one; therefore, we are focusing on communication and community rather than stories; process, rather than product.

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