Thursday, November 26, 2015

Curation of Social Media

I apologize for the awkward title, which hints at but does not capture my meaning. So far I do not know of a good way for either producers or consumers of media to integrate new content from the social media firehose dynamically and appropriately. Authors would benefit from having the capability to add new content incrementally to a topic that they have established, in a way that allows them to organize their work and guide readers through it, while allowing it to evolve dynamically. Readers also could add value to the organization of online information by contributing serendipity, making connections and associations that the author overlooked or evaluations that have more value when not controlled by interested parties directly. This already happens in a primitive way, when bloggers or podcasters create a continuing series on a particular topic or when a search engine allows you to find pages that link to a page.
For example, I am interested in evaluating web pages that contain criticism of libertarians. This would be a very large project if I attempted to make it comprehensive, and even if I keep my ambition modest, it would benefit from allowing me to update it dynamically as new pages appear or old ones change. I'd like to create a list of such pages and some summary info about them; is the criticism new and original, from what perspective does it attack, what aspect does it criticize, etc. I'd like to have the capability of inviting others to contribute to this effort, perhaps a selected group of collaborators or a more Wikipedia-ish free-for-all. 
l can do all this by hand, or I could develop software to automate it for my specific case, or someone could develop this as a general capability available for use by anyone for any purpose.
Google plus has just come up with the idea of a collection, which may provide a move in this direction. I haven't seen a serious example of someone using it yet.
Every blog has a comments section, usually requiring some sort of log-in. Comments "belong to" the article they comment on, rather than being separate items that relate to each other. I want to own all my comments, and be able to comment on whatever I like without the permission of the thing I comment on. I'd like to see a system that would allow any reader looking for comments on a particular item to be able to find them and perhaps filter out certain sorts of comments. I'd like to be able to find all the public comments made by a particular person, along with links to the things that inspired the comments.
Another example: I'd like to write a book online, by first making some notes and an outline, then writing more notes on a particular subtopic, engage in a discussion about something else related, come up with a draft chapter, etc. Old revisions and elisions would remain available in the history. At the end, I might produce a conventional book, or a strange hyperlinked multimedia hybrid. I want to have the capability to build it very dynamically, to make it visible before I am finished, in fact visible from the beginning.
Hashtags could play a big part here. We could use hashtags to add a web page to a topic, or to question the inclusion of a web page in a topic. So someone seeing this post might tag it #webCuration (to indicate it is about web curation) or #notMuseum (to indicate that it has been mistakenly associated with the topic of museums).

Please comment if you know of some existing solution or proposed innovation in this area, or an example of a well-curated dynamic web creation. I suppose Wikipedia itself would sort of qualify, if they weren't so chauvinistic about references to respectable print publications. I am tempted to launch a "scholarly" print journal whose only real reason for existence is to print articles so that people can make changes on Wikipedia. You might be able to make a profit, who knows? Sort of the Journal of Irreproducible Results minus the funniness requirement. Maybe the Journal of Questionable Claims? Publish it here when you want someone else to do the homework.

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