Home > Future of Journalism > Newspaper Articles vs. Structured Information – Adrian Holovaty

Newspaper Articles vs. Structured Information – Adrian Holovaty

I thought this was a very insightful post by Adrian Holovaty, even though it’s from September 2006. The post is titled A fundamental way newspaper sites need to change.

The following excerpt from the article should whet your appetite:

One of those important shifts is: Newspapers need to stop the story-centric worldview.

Conditioned by decades of an established style of journalism, newspaper journalists tend to see their primary role thusly:

  • Collect information
  • Write a newspaper story

The problem here is that, for many types of news and information, newspaper stories don’t cut it anymore.

So much of what local journalists collect day-to-day is structured information: the type of information that can be sliced-and-diced, in an automated fashion, by computers. Yet the information gets distilled into a big blob of text — a newspaper story — that has no chance of being repurposed.

For example, say a newspaper has written a story about a local fire. Being able to read that story on a cell phone is fine and dandy. Hooray, technology! But what I really want to be able to do is explore the raw facts of that story, one by one, with layers of attribution, and an infrastructure for comparing the details of the fire — date, time, place, victims, fire station number, distance from fire department, names and years experience of firemen on the scene, time it took for firemen to arrive — with the details of previous fires. And subsequent fires, whenever they happen.

… and, as Kurt Vonnegut would say, so it goes.

This is the way of HyperMedia, and foreshadows the emergence of the Semantic Web. How are we preparing for this world?


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