A million voices, a million editors

Africa - Andrea Planet WallpaperThe TED conference showcases lectures from some of the most interesting voices in technology, arts and media.  Most recently, I discovered a short, four minute video on text message reporting of violent crisis in Africa.  The concept is a great one, but the larger concept behind this particular incarnation is what is fascinating.

The project initially allowed thousands of updates reporting break outs of violence, and aggregated that content.  But eventually they had more content than could be realistically consumed.  So after having success with a crowdsourced approach to content generation, they decided to take a similar approach to content filtration.  Which is brilliant.

We already see this happen to an extent with current online frameworks.  Someone in the crowd uploads a video to YouTube, which then someone belonging to a community like Digg or Reddit sees, and then posts to one of those sites.  Once there, if the video resonates with the site’s audience, it moves quickly up the ranks and becomes a popular video.  If the video wasn’t very good, it dies off into obscurity.  The problem with this existing workflow is that it isn’t integrated.

YouTube sees tons of video uploads, but their filtration mechanisms pale in comparison to something like Digg.  Digg doesn’t generate much content, especially in comparison with a site like YouTube.  It makes sense for these two concepts to collide, and in all likelihood, that’s precisely what will happen.  It may ultimately occur through Facebook, which is rapidly becoming an integrated mesh for the entire web.  Once it does, our content consumption patterns will increasingly shift to decentralized, lower cost content, but with a high quality that may be appropriate for greater brand presence.

In the interim, it will be very interesting to see how this initiative goes on the smaller, niche scale.  As is often the case with TED presentations, the humanitarian aspect here is tremendous.  I hope it goes well.