I’ve felt for a long time that every serious news organization and blog should have a river associated with their publication. The river would include the news sources that the publication “reads” — to give their readers a sense of the community they both belong to and the community they define.
For example, a blog about a town would include a river of all the bloggers who are active in that town. This is a vital resource for the editorial people who write for the pub, but it also gives access to everyone. The readers get to read all the news sources, and the news sources get to read each other. Very quickly, probably instantaneously, all these different boxes, sources, readers, reporters merge into one, because truthfully it’s more like that every day. The imaginary line that separates a columnist from a voter from a mayor is more or less non-existent, in a day when mayors have blogs, and citizens become mayors.
This is the world envisioned by at least some of the founders of the United States. That the people would form the government, and that the press would cover everything, without regard to status. The tendency of cliques and ladders to form would be counteracted by new entrants in all the fields, and lower barriers to entry. This is what democratization of media looks like. It’s why I put my collection of rivers on a site called Media Hackers. Because that’s what all this is doing, hacking media, and turning it into something new, given the new realities of the technology we now use to publish and to read.
Rivers are revolutionary because they are flat. The ideal level playing field. I read NakedJen and Doc Searls along with the New York Times and whitehouse.gov. And Jon Chait, David Frum, Felix Salmon and Matt Taibbi. I love them all because they send me fresh ideas that get me thinking. And I love that I can share all that with you, the lovely people who read my humble blog.
The river on Scripting News home page is a collection of feeds that I read to be inspired and to keep informed. They reflect my interests, which is appropriate because it is my blog. It helps you know who influences me, and I’m always open to adding more feeds to my river.
My feeling is that if you read my blog you should also read my river.
I think the more innovative sites should get on board right away. I have pitched FastCompany and Wired on doing this. Technology Review at MIT has written glowingly of the idea of rivers of news, how about putting one together for your community? BerkeleySide, why not put a river of Berkeley bloggers on your site?
I am available to help any serious publication get started. We have the software, and the interest. And the community of users gathered around my site, ever-more-active, are zealots when it comes to spreading the gospel! 🙂