How to juggle multimedia and Digg interactivity

In two back-channel online news discussions this week, folks have been debating how newspapers should be gathering video and how they should handle comment moderation.

The video discussion among Howard Owens, Mindy McAdams, and others, is notable because the question is no longer IF newspapers should be running video online (Yes) or HOW they should be presenting it online (Flash), but How they should be gathering it, Who should be doing the shooting, and What sort of video should they be offering viewers?

On a theoretical note, this could be an indication that newspaper video has taken a step out of the early adoption phase and toward take-up — but that’s not what my thesis is about.

My thesis (still in the way-early stages of paperwork and preliminary data gathering) is about the adoption of interactivity.

A quick primer:

  • Multimedia journalism uses more than one communication medium to tell a story. (Go figure.)
  • Interactivity in a technical/graphical sense gives your readers buttons to push and click to navigate their way through a story.
  • Interactivity in a participatory sense gives your readers/viewers/users a space to talk back to the newspaper and each other.

On the online news e-mail discussion list that Jay Small pointed to, there’s a mention of Slashdot-style comment moderation, and I’ll speak to that by pointing my colleagues over to Digg, where they’ll find a variation on Slashdot’s moderation points theme.

Pick a post on the front page of Digg and click on the comments link:

Now take a look at those little thumbs up and down on the right of each comment.

Close up of Digg Comments page

Readers participate in comment moderation by “digging” or burying comments. You can only do this when registered and logged in.

No need to assign points, moderate the moderators, or worry about coming off as censors.

Instead, you let the readers most authoritative and passionate about the topic (registered users bothering to click through to the comments on a particular story/message board posting/blog entry) do the work for you.

They’ll be happier, and you’ll be happier.

I’m planning on taking a closer look at Pligg, an open-source CMS tool based largely on the Digg interface.

What are some other ways we can harness the wisdom of the crowd without muzzling it?

Jeff Jarvis shows old media the Digg effect

In his column in the Guardian, Jeff Jarvis does his “scary blogboy dance” (his words, not mine – but I do identify) for the CUNY J-School faculty, including a number on Digg, the social bookmarking site that makes Slashdot look like a quaint relic dug up from the vaults of Usenet.

Jarvis says:

The concept behind Digg is disarmingly simple: when members find stories of interest – so far, mostly about tech – they recommend the articles to others at the site. The members get credit for being the first to find stories, which means that you have 150,000 editors fighting to find the good stuff fast, and that makes Digg a great source for timely tech news. Once the articles appear on Digg, members click to check them out, sending huge traffic to each article; this is known as “the Digg effect”. If the articles pass muster, members vote them onto the front page – they “digg” the stories, get it? And so the community creates the front page. We are the editor. Imagine if there were a parallel front page to this paper, edited by you and the smart community that gathers here. (Not a bad idea, eh?)

If your knees just jerked off the ground and the words “popularity contest” came to mind, you’ll have to read Jarvis’ column to learn why it doesn’t work that way.