Nico Macdonald | Spy   Communication, facilitation, research and consultancy around design and technology

Debating standards
27 June 2007
A ‘Lightning Enlightening Talk’ presented at the Second Kendra Cross Media Summit on content description, visibility, search and discovery in London


Some years ago I wrote a piece in The Register entitled The future of Weblogging proposing a model for high quality and informed debate about current affairs. I proposed that if newspaper and current affairs publishers, syndicated meta information on their comment pieces, this would be aggregated to allow readers to better find comment of interest to them and post responses on their own Weblogs, with these responses being aggregated and re-presented in the context of the original piece, filtered in various ways including by reputation and relationship to the reader. I also argued that “we need to find ways to visualise the ‘blogosphere’”.

More recently I wrote a piece for the entitled ‘Comment is Free,’ but designing communities is hard, in which I noted of the trackback model of aggregating comments that it: “encourages a higher quality of debate, as people tend not to post offensive or ill-thought-out comments on their own Weblog, where they would be prominent for days or weeks, potentially damaging their online profile and reputation”.

I propose that we need to have better ways to find op-ed, opinion and analysis material, in newspapers, periodicals, Weblogs and broadcast and narrowcast media. We also need better ways to find commentary on those materials, to see the relationships between them, and to filter them by the relationship to us of the person contributing them.

The business benefits to publishers and broadcasters would be in making their online content more interesting and engaging by properly including responses in context. Readers and viewers would get a richer debate. And more broadly, society would benefit by having a richer public commons of debate, and being able to work through issues in a more considered fashion.


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Nico Macdonald | Spy 2007