Bob Cauthorn on how to organize information at your online edition

Will Sullivan, interactive projects editor at the Palm Beach Post, reports at his Journerdism blog on a webcast of a talk Bob Cauthorn gave at UC Berkeley in March.

Cauthorn is a former VP for digital media at the SF Chronicle. A quick search on his name will throw gobs of good articles, lectures and interviews by and about him.
Sullivan’s notes include the following bits of Cauthorn’s advice to newspapers:

“…Starting a wiki experiment with open source software, ‘Forget the capital stuff. Find your top three reporters, tell them to not submit an expense report for the next two weeks and you can pay for this.’ …He suggests taking your archives, dumping them into the wiki, and letting the public organize the information. …’I hope you all are not trying to make money off your archives, because you all are smokin’ crack.’ …He also suggests letting the public tag stories, letting them be ‘super-librarians’ for you. …He discusses the idea that newspapers are essentially unranked listings of information. We need to aggregate, organize that information and become the communities best repository for that information. That’s what newspapers have been for the last 100 years.”

Cool. I love the idea of letting the readers do the work when it comes to tagging and organizing the archives. Let’s say I’m searching the Chronicle’s archives for a story about Stereolab (one of my favorite bands) and I find this 2001 review of a live show at the Fillmore. I might tag it with the words Stereolab, indie+rock, Fillmore, 2001, concert, review. The tags should end up on the archived article page, so that the next person searching can just click on Fillmore if they want to read more about it, without going back to a search page and typing the word. Once a large set of tags has been built up by readers, start publishing a tag cloud (RSS subscribers might want to click through to look at the right side of this page to see this in action…) on the Search page, so that readers can just browse the archives by reader-created tags.

Hello, serendipity.

What are some of the other tricks we can use online to give readers that sense of stumbling upon stories while they turn the pages of the print edition?

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