Saturday, February 24, 2007

Communication Defines Community

Consider the problem of neighborhood newsletters and community newspapers, and online (web) presence for the same. Content for web sites can be maintained by various systems with strange names like joomla, plone, django, and drupal. What the web site should look like is another question. The community site might host the various neighborhood web pages in distinct way, in addition to having content common to all the hoods.

Another problem is producing a community newspaper that includes news from each neighborhood association. In southwest Portland, content is currently collected via email and paper copy, and then put into a layout program like InDesign for the print edition. Neighborhood meeting dates can clash with newspaper publishing deadlines.

But much of the same information should be in both media.

What if the community newspaper used a content management system that allowed it to maintain the on-line edition, while also being capable of exporting the articles for that particular edition into a rough first whack at the print edition? That is, the newspaper production would begin with content derived from the web edition. For an example of this, see the Lawrence Journal-World, in the hip town of Lawrence, Kansas.

So, that is easy enough. Now leap ahead. What if all the recognized levels of the world used a distributed news system, that allowed 'local' articles to appear on a local paper or web site, while the next larger entity could automatically pull up articles flagged as having larger scope? A regional newspaper (say for Northwest America) could draw from articles aggregated from the areas (urban and rural) within the Northwest. This is not to say that The Northwest American couldn't have articles from The Eastern Seaboard, The MidWestern, or The World. (Different proposals for bio-geo-cultural regions of America will be the topic of future world-remixed entries).

This all is not to be confused with Charles Foster Kane, Ted Turner, or Rupert Murdoch. In the future, there will be citizen-driven open news systems.

The title for this entry is from the late Professor James Carey of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. I hope he would approve of this message.