(Expect a number of posts coming very about recent developments.)
Lets go back for a second at the opening claim of our intent from our very first post:
“OpenCan is a codename for a knowledge and information collection, organization and dissemination platform experiment responding to the lack of verifiable and credible truth claims made in public discourse.”
After piles of notes, sketches and plenty of valuable suggestions from lots of smart people, what I am coming to realize is that the very specific critical gap (or chasm) right now in news media is a meaningful communication, or dissemination, of evidence surrounding a journalistic investigation or inquiry.
Traditional news media aren’t even trying to provide the hard evidence and fact surrounding the stories they produce. However, there are organizations that are taking truth claims made by (and through) the media and examining them to either confirm or refute those claims. Groups such as wikileaks,factcheck.org, politifact, and even snopes are using, and more importantly citing, hard evidence to act as a kind of journalistic mythbusters.
The hurdle here is that this evidence collected to prove or disprove these claims made in the media is inaccessible and/or intimidating. For example, factcheck.org does a great job of analyzing the US public debate about the price of oil and the causes thereof, but when it comes to meaningfully organizing the source data – they fall flat. The sources (however nice that there are links) are listed in a wall of text which reads like endnotes to an undergraduate thesis project.
Now, what if all of the information from the sources that factcheck.org referenced were graphically organized on a page in a hierarchical system based on variables like credibility of source, relevance to topic and pedagogical/informative value?
Now imagine that the sources of information aren’t static – they can have associations with other bits of information. Users can rank the usefulness of one source which alters how that piece of information occupies space, and how it related to other bits of information. What’s more, is that users can contribute to the investigation by adding their own information – maybe by linking to other news articles, or uploading the photos or videos they made about the subject at hand.
What’s the result of all this? Dynamic, organic, crowdsourced investigative journalism organized into a meaningful visual narrative for users.