I've created a preliminary video for my Knight-Mozilla final project:
The elaboration that I mentioned at the end of the video, well, I'm still working on that. That is not in this blog post, but will come at a later date. What I want to do today, since this week's guest lecturers imparted some excellent perspective on life inside a news organization, is focus on the benefits this project can have to the newsroom.
Saving time and pooling resources
When the commenting layer is pulled into the web browser, then the programming effort of implementing comment threads doesn't have to be re-done by every website. Webmasters and content owners will benefit from a unified comment experience even if they don't do anything to add comment threads to their site. This commenting functionality will be more powerful than systems that most news sites can implement on their own. It will even be extensible so the end-users can customize it with browser add-ons.
A plug-in architecture will be created that makes it trivial for sites to integrate this open commenting layer back into the underlying page if they desire. The data will be open and accessible for the underlying site and all users.
Unified, powerful tools to participate in the discussion stream
Some news organizations may be worried about ceding control of their comment stream to some third-party. First of all, the data will be open so the underlying webpage owner will have access to it. Second, most news organizations are quite open and have no desire to censor the comments on their articles. For these organizations, the main reason to control the comment stream would be to eliminate spam and hide trolls. With the open commenting layer, these responsibilities will be taken on and performed automatically by the platform and the community, saving news organizations much time and effort in curating their comment streams. Third, we will provide ways for the content owner to interact with the comment stream, endorsing good comments and highlighting discussion deemed relevant by the original author or news organization. At this point, the primary vehicle for this interaction is the "Author's Picks" section of the commenting layer, but additional integration points may be provided in the future.
Again, these tools will be unified and built into the system and will be very easy to use, saving news organizations from having to spend the time and money implementing and maintaining their own management systems. But the management tools for the content owner will also be open and customizable so those who need more powerful features can create them (and hopefully share them in an open source way).
These are some, but not all, of the ways that an open commenting layer will be a great benefit to news organizations.