Thursday, March 29, 2007

Assignment Zero

I'm honored and flattered to be part of the "pro" contingent in the citizen journalism project called "Assignment Zero."

Their mission?
We're covering a story: How the Web makes it possible for the crowd to be the source of good ideas. But instead of one journalist reporting, we've created a site where many people can work on the story, with editors as guides.

The "ams" are simply people getting together on their own time to contribute to a project in journalism that for their own reasons they support. The "pros" are journalists guiding and editing the story, setting standards, overseeing fact-checking, and publishing a final version.
So it's the editorial equivalent of massive parallel computing. A "Seti@Home" for aspiring citizen journalists.

My area is "Information Topics," and this being the early stages of "let's put on a show" it remains to be seen where the sweet spots and perimeters are.

My first blog entry over there is here, copied below for the click-disabled:

Nobody uses the phrase “information superhighway” anymore (and thank you) but this early portend of the Internet is telling. Not “news superhighway” or “advertising superhighway” or virtual community superhighway” – no, “information” got top billing.

Strip out all the hype and the fancy jargon and put aside all the hair-pulling about how we gotta make money off this thing before it kills us and you are left to gaze in awe at the most efficient means of communication coupled with the most comprehensive repository for anything that can be distilled into bit form.

Forget about what that leaves out. What it leaves in is as incomprehensible as infinity.

The basic DNA of life is information. Before we have “Lost,” we have ideas, and these ideas are based on information (nightmares are information, too). Before we have a Pulitzer Prize-winning story, we have people who actually know things we will take for credit writing about, and we need their information. After a scoundral lies for his own selfish purposes information – hidden or manipulated – is waiting to set us free.

For the first time in human history it is conceivable that anyone, anywhere can accomplish any thinking task that requires information (apologies for that redundancy) by tapping into this thing.

Maybe “Information Superhighway” isn’t so obsolete after all.