Jeff Jarvis wrote a post today saying, “The old building block of journalism — the article — is proving to be inadequate in the current onslaught of news. …the new building block is the topic.”
I agree. Not that that’s any surprise, given we’ve built Veritocracy around that concept. I would extend Jeff’s point though and say that on a fundamental level, topics have the potential to improve journalism by creating a much more efficient market place for ideas.
As readers we want the absolute best, most complete information on the subjects we’re interested in. If you group all the articles (mainstream media, bloggers, reader comments) about a specific topic (i.e. ‘Is the Bailout Plan the Right Move?’), you effectively allow those articles to compete against each other. You can also then have topics compete against each other. It’s effectively like introducing “specialists” on the floor of the stock market. Topics bring together all the buyers and sellers of a specific “idea” so everyone gets a more efficient result.
To make topics really work though, you need 1) a way to accurately organize content from millions of sources into specific, but narrow topics; 2) a way to separate out what is good information from what is bad information, within each topic, on a personalized basis; 3) the ability to learn to feed each reader the topics they are actually interested in.
This is what we’re doing with Veritocracy, and it is essentially the vision that Jeff lays out in his post. I strongly believe that this is the future of news and information, whether it’s us that ultimately succeed with it, or someone else.