This is great, particularly as no other mass audience, community-created news site, with the aim of neutrality, exists, to my knowledge.
My main concern about Wikinews is that the wiki process, by itself, isn’t fast moving enough to ensure the accuracy or neutrality of stories posted on the site. Whereas, over time, Wikipedia articles have the rough edges smoothed by the process of collaborative editing, news items are only seen by a substantial audience for a short period of time. So, inaccurate, or skewed, items could be influential before they are corrected.
At first, Wikinews will either have to rely on other news sources, to provide its stories, or restrict its output to that which can be directly experienced by its contributors. To me, both scenarios present limitations to how useful the wiki process will be. In the first instance, wiki editors will have to trust that other news sources are accurate and neutral. In the second, there won’t be enough people who have had direct experience, of most news stories, for the wiki editing process to result in something that is neutral; which is perhaps why Indymedia‘s solidly left-wing stance has worked for its audience.
On a slightly more philosophical note, I wonder if Wikinews will challenge the idea of news as fact. If it gains a significant audience, and stays around for a few years, the accuracy of its archive will diminish. The ability to revise old news could be Wikinews’ major failing. It would, for example, be very easy to go through old news items and edit someone out of them. While, with Wikipedia, there is enough interest in most items for them to maintain some debate, and relatively frequent editing, who will bother to check that old news isn’t being fiddled with? Even if no one does mis-edit older news, could the very possibility devalue the archive?
I’m sure Wikimedia will come up with interesting solutions, and accommodations, to any problems Wikinews may face. I look forward to seeing how it grows, and also to contributing to it. A Wired News article about Wikinews suggests that it will counter the profits-driven nature of most American news. The BBC may get it wrong some times but man, I’m so grateful we have it.
Earlier this week, I attended a talk by Jaguar‘s Head of Global Marketing Communications, Laurence Thomas. In it, he described how the company had worked to move the Jaguar brand from being seen as the old man’s favourite, to a credible, premium alternative to BMW, Mercedes, etc.
As Laurence described the substantial efforts his team had employed to effect the change, I began to think about two things we’d discussed during season 2, episode 3 of LugRadio:
- the role of marketing in open source software
- the NHS’s decision to stick with Microsoft.
Aq was very vocal in his opposition to any form of, what he might describe as, corporatism, including marketing, in open source software. Later, when discussing the NHS, Jono said that we had failed – “we” being the open source community.
Aq wants us to find a way, other than marketing, to build and promote open source software. Jono feels the collective pain of a community whose products, and organisation, are experiencing the shortcomings of not employing marketing.
Beautiful, fast software
During his talk about repositioning Jaguar, Laurence Thomas made it clear that changing the perception of a brand does not begin and end with some witty copy in an advert. Instead, the company needs a common goal and philosophy, which then creates the brand
Internally, Jaguar has a statement of purpose, which is intended to inform everything the company does:
Beautiful, fast cars.
Three words which are broad enough not to restrict but specific enough to be a meaningful guide for the company’s actions.
Rather than simply telling the world that Jaguar is different, they have actually changed the company, so that their products, service and communications all live up to a certain set of standards and ideals. The reality informs the brand.
This, my marketing-fearing open source friends, is what marketing is. It’s a management philosophy that evaluates needs and creates solutions to satisfy those needs. To use open source terminology – it’s about scratching itches.
Perhaps it’s useful to see how the marketers themselves describe marketing:
Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably. Chartered Institute of Marketing definition.
In other words, marketing is not just advertising, nor is it dodgy door-to-door selling. Marketing is finding out what people need and giving it to them. The profit you make would normally be financial, but it could be any benefit that is worth more than the effort expended.
It’s reasonable to say that the open source development model already employs marketing methods. The challenge is to get open source proponents and project leaders to realise that marketing isn’t evil; it’s essential.
As Jaguar have shown, marketing isn’t about smoke and mirrors, or trying to fool people. Marketing is about creating a reality which is best for both the organisation and the end user.
I’ll be writing more on this subject, over the next few weeks. I’m sure I’ll raise the ire of some people, but there’s genuinely no need to fear marketing within open source; in fact, to dismiss it is to dismiss much of what already happens.
Today, we publish episode 3 of the new series of LugRadio.
As my first show of the new series, I’m really looking forward to hearing what people think of it.
New boy, Ade, settled in as tho’ he’d always been there. At certain points I did try to imagine what Sparkes might have said, but it was great to have yet another point of view from our new presenter.
Overall, I’d say this is one of the best shows we’ve ever done. We managed to chat about loads of stuff, including:
- a review of Sparkes’ best bits
- welcome to Ade
- regular listener, Schwuk joined us on the phone to talk about people’s willingness to pay for insignificant software, free alternatives to which are readily available
- we debated the future of Firefox and questioned why Microsoft appears not to notice the (albeit minor) threat
- discussion of Novell’s new SuSe Linux Desktop 9.2 and the involvement of corporate licensing in the open source world
- the NHS condemning 900,000 desktops to Microsoft and spending ?500million of our money on it
- the end of show, including moaning about Powergen’s broken browser sniffing.
It’s great that we’re doing the show again and we’ve had some positive feedback, but I wanna’ hear from more people. Mail us guys … show AT lugradio DOT org … let us know what you think.
Anyway, go listen to the show.
Picked up a hitchhiker on the way to work. Waiting at the lights, holding a red-on-white trade plate and blue marker scrawled sign, “Services”.
I lifted my hand, in a non-commital wave; could’ve been “hello”, could’ve been “okay, I’ll take you to the services”. He took it as the latter. I killed the radio, unlocked the doors. He got in, the lights changed and we were away.
“You’re going to the next services?”, I asked.
“Yeah,” as he began to speak, the car’s atmosphere filled with the sweet, thick smell of last night’s drinking. “Well, junction four’s best. I’m going to Longbridge, back to Rover.”
He was wearing a thick coat, so I turned the heating down; opened the window a little, too, to freshen the air.
“Have you put your clock back?”, he peered across at the dashboard. “It’s not twenty to nine is it?”
“Nah, the clock’s right”, I replied.
“I’m shattered; been up all night.” Without a pause he switched thoughts and continued, “Is junction four okay? Where are you going?”
Switching lanes, I glanced at him. Slightly bulging eyes, red face; nothing to reassure me.
“Gloucester. Yeah, junction four’s fine.”
He began furtling in a large black bag. “I’ve got a Rover sign here somewhere.”
Not a knife, I hoped. Instantly focused, I played through what might happen in the seconds following the sight of a knife.
“Got it!” He pulled another tatty, blue marker pen sign from a ring binder.
No knife. Relieved, I made conversation: asked if he delivered cars, did he find it hard to get lifts? He made minor concessions to my questions, but seemed primarily concerned with an internal dialogue.
“I’m not sure if the services or junction four is best.” He paused. Continued, “Junction four shouldn’t be too busy, if that’s okay. I can get to Longbridge round the back.”
I glanced at other cars in my mirrors, felt detached from driving decisions. Adrenalin was beginning to take over.
“But the services might be better”, he paused and I slowed the car a little. “I’d better decide soon, they’re only half a mile away.”
Did he want my input? We passed the services, sped round the bend towards junction four and up the slip road.
He got out, thanked me for picking him up and walked off to find another lift. I turned the radio back on, “…man who bit off a woman’s tongue in Blackpool…”
I’d got away with my tongue.
The new LugRadio episode is out today. It’s Sparkes‘ final appearance, as a member of the team. I’m sad to see Sparkes leave, as he combined genuine hacker passion with some very funny, memorable lines
I’m pretty certain he’ll be back, at some point or other.