Applying Internet philosophies to the journalism process

When I joined the Guardian a few years ago I was really eager to bring some ideas I had about applying the philosophies that made the early Internet possible to the publishing process and to journalism itself.

Transparency, networks, open data, platforms, collective behaviors, generative media, etc are all meaty concepts. I’m fascinated by how those words translate for industries that were formed before the Internet came along.

There are no answers, but there are certainly best practices and lots of ways to iterate and build and grow when you’ve found something that seems to work.

I was initially focused on opening up the Guardian’s content and data. That’s how the API got off the ground.

Then we took a Hack Day experiment on mobile reporting and we evolved it into a platform service called n0tice. n0tice powers GuardianWitness, among other things (more to be announced soon), and we offer that service to other publishers around the world.

And then this week another small crew (Sarah, Dan, Tom, Dean) launched a new business called Contributoria. It’s a collaborative writing platform where members drive all aspects of the publishing process together, including commissioning stories and the editing process itself.

Based on the initial reaction and the first participants to join Contributoria, I’m becoming really hopeful that we’ve created a new market, a new way of doing things that will help a lot of people who care about the future of journalism and want to be a part of it and to see it succeed.

While we’ve yet to do much future-proofing of Contributoria against the many threats to the Internet as we know it today, I remain an optimist about the wider network. And perhaps if we get enough momentum behind it, Contributoria can become a tool for or at least a participant in securing the principles that made the early Internet such a wonderful thing.

At worst, the guys have made a pretty neat platform. Wish us luck!