Transparent Media and Wikify Everything

    December 15, 2006

Chris Anderson is on a roll about transparency  and six tactics for transparent media:

  • Show who we are.
  • Show what we’re working on.
  • Process as Content
  • Privilege the crowd.
  • Let readers decide what’s best.
  • Wikifiy everything.
  • interesting thought experiment is not only would this work for Wired, or a media company, but would it work for any company.

    Expounding upon the reactions to his post, Chris clarifies:

    These techniques works better for relatively short-form web media than they do for the print magazine. That’s mostly because magazine features tend to be long (2,500-10,000 words) and wrapped up in a package heavy with art and design. Long-form journalism is more about narrative and story arc, which is really best done as a close collaboration between a writer, editor and designer.

    Actually, an interesting question is if you could make the short form more like the long form. Many a time have I been interviewed by a writer and then had a photo shoot with someone that had little or no idea what the article was about. Photo editors don’t give a lot of art direction, especially to freelancers. Wired features are more collaborative than the norm, but I have to ask if tighter collaboration could be fostered for short form stories.

    At Ziff Davis a while ago, this process between the art director, writers and editors was made transparent through a wiki:

    In order to put a story together, Art, Production and Editorial departments have to work together. The Editorial team is on the 8th floor, the Art team is on 9th floor and someone is always out of the office.

    The team and department heads realized they could use Socialtext for day-to-day coordination, scheduling and requests. The groups need to communicate to each other what’s needed for stories in progress: Art, HTML requests, copy, all in a back-and-forth conversational style. The groups set up a page for each activity, posting requests as they come up, and tracking fulfillment of the request. A structured approval process wouldn’t address the need for iterative communication. “Because its not always a regular process, we can communicate when something isn’t clear and coordinate getting it done,” said Kennedy.

    But the interesting question to ask with any process, especially an ad hoc process, is what would happen if we increase the scale and transparency through a wiki?

    Chris suggests this is possible by wikifying everything. But I’d suggest that for most newsrooms there is a preliminary step of internal transparency, and then involving freelancers.


    Ross Mayfield is CEO and co-founder of Socialtext, an emerging provider of Enterprise Social Software that dramatically increases group productivity and develops a group memory.

    He also writes Ross Mayfield’s Weblog which focuses on markets, technology and musings.