Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Infobitt: the news version of Wikipedia

This might be cool: Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger is working on a Wikipedia-like site that ranks facts from the news in an interesting way. From the "short version" of the manifesto:
I’m co-founder of Wikipedia. Now think back to a time before Wikipedia—the 1990s, if you’re that old. If you didn’t know the answer to a question, and a web search brought no joy, you might have to take a trip to the library, or stay ignorant.
Today, if you don’t know the answer to a question, you can find one on Wikipedia within seconds. That’s a stunning development for humanity: we now have virtually instant access to answers. That’s a historical first. It changes how we learn, how we communicate, and how we think.
How did it happen? Millions of people from across the globe understood the vision of a free, open content encyclopedia and acted on it. It was my job to organize this effort. Wikipedia was the result.
Now I hope to organize people to summarize and rank the world’s news in a free, open content news resource. The project is called Infobitt.
If this sounds a bit like Digg or Reddit, it kind of is, but with fewer cat pictures and overused memes. During a recent AMA, Sanger was asked, "How will infobitt help me decide beyond my own gut whether a piece of news is correct or not?" His answer: "We are a 'mere aggregator,' but we do not aggregate articles; we aggregate facts which we find in articles." Elsewhere in the AMA he talks about solving the problem of needing several news sources just to get all the facts, but bypassing all the redundant (and sometimes wrong) information.

I have my doubts that lightning will strike twice for Sanger, but I'm nonetheless excited about Infobitt. For the record, every service I've ever been excited for went relatively nowhere (Anyone remember me banging the drum for Diaspora? Hell, does anyone remember Diaspora?), but if he does manage to combine the reliability of Wikipedia with the ease-of-use of Reddit, I think Infobitt is going to be pretty useful. While I was originally skeptical of putting too much faith in the accuracy of Wikipedia, I've since learned to use it for what it's best at: being a starting point for research and a handy collection of references. Today I love the featured article of the day and the "in the news" section, too. Luckily, Sanger is the guy who wrote "Wikipedia's neutrality policy" (according to him), so the problems you would except from "just anyone being allowed to contribute" will hopefully be mitigated as well as they are on Wikipedia.

The Infobitt team is holding a "pledge drive" for facts: "When we reach 100,000 pledges to add one fact, we’ll ask everybody to show up at once!" You can pledge here.

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