Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Posted by Thomas Crampton

Tech editor of the International Herald Tribune seems open to publishing a column of blog-generated ideas.

I need topics of interest our newspaper's readers (wealthy global audience of frequent travelers with diverse interests in politics, economic and culture).

Conversations on this blog that might work have included my postings on Global Sociology of Online Shopping or Joi's post on ideas for new inflight software.

Input welcome on:

Layout - should it be in blog-style or reworked into a newspaper format. I tend to prefer reworking it, but my editor liked the idea of experimenting with a new formatting that might resemble an online chat.

Topics - Ideas for topics that would get the best response and interest our readers. I prefer things that are less about tech-issues than about ideas that may relate to technology.

Writing form - should it be written from a blog or could it be compiled on a wiki-style platform? This would require me to lay out the format and ask for people to help filling it in, but if someone has some appropriate social software platform, it might be fun to test the concept.

Online communities - A futher thought on the above concept is that it may be fun to involve specific online communities in writing guest columns. This would mean asking for the communities - friendster, asmallworld, openbc or another one. The idea would best to use a community with a particular purpose or outlook rather than a generic one. That would allow us to explore how these communities are different. Anyone senior enough at one of these communities should feel free to get in touch.


Forgot to say: I also need to think of a title for the column.

Wow, I'm a subscriber to the IHT. I was actually thinking of cancelling, but not anymore!

One thing I would really love to see under an editorial is a comments section with two buttons: PRO (for people who agree) and CON (for people who disagree with the premise of the editorial). Below would be two columns of comments, Pro and Con side by side. So often comment threads devolve into pretty dumb tit for tat argument; the most interesting parts come from people on the same side of the issue challenging each other. I'd love to see what happens.

The LA Times Wikitorial was so out of control that it was really a problem, so I'm not sure a Wiki would work.


Am starting this on the tech page, so nominally need to remain within that zone. (But do intend to branch out eventually!)

By the way, did you know that as an IHT subscriber you get free access to Times select. (This is not a promotional statement, just something that many IHT subscribers do not realize.)

This is probably not what you are looking for, but I read the IHT regularly and would enjoy seeing the highlights of an open and intelligent debate among ordinary bloggers (techology ideas being fine subjects) reprinted in the paper. If it was short, insightful and reasonably well behaved, it would give a window into what people are really thinking and perhaps encourage more people to share their opinions online which I think would be a good thing. It might also give those who have well thought out opinions and ideas a little profile and show that the IHT really does have its finger on the pulse.

Just a thought.

Yes, I'm a subscriber! No! I cannot get Times Select. For some reason it's deemed off limits to people in Japan :(

Here is an example of a community (with a huge number of IHT readers) that could write a guest column.
This community has a high per cent of expatriate Anglophones and two-nationality couples and families, living in the Paris area.
This is an important year for the community in question, with a major event planned in February 2006, to celebrate the coming of age (13 years of existence.)

(And, by the way, I am another IHT subscriber, who could not get through to TImesSelect, despite the subscription number -- poor design)

Dear Tom:

My concern here would be preventing anarchy. This reminds me of the failed experiments in collarative theatre in the 1960s and 70s. While initially interesting, these efforts lacked direction and unity of barrative.

Traditional methods of focusing the argument, such as the inverted pyramid used in objective journaism, cannot be lightly discarded. In the end, someone has to pull it all together and edit the final result.

So, how is that different from what is already out there? Whose voice and vision will it be in the end?

For a new take on collaborative writing, check out Writeboard ( I haven't tried it yet, but the other web tools by 37Signals are excellent so I expect this one to do good as well.

Anyone facing the Times Select issues, I am happy to forward issues if you are having problems. Please send them in an email and I will make sure they go straight to the top.

Noel: You understand exactly what I have in mind.

Francis: I agree about your anarchy concerns. I will be pulling it together. How will it be different from what is out there? The only real difference is that the article/column will be written based only on what is done online.

Niko: Thanks. I will check it out.

Denise: Don't quite understand: What community is 13 years old in February 2006?

Hi Thomas,

Sounds like a really interesting idea. Will that column be for the print issue or just for the online version ?

If we at openBC can help you in any way, we would be more than willing to do so. Just drop me a line:

(Senior Partner, openBC)

Hi there Thomas,

It's worth reading the following, and the piece he refers to be Steve Outing.

A blogger ghetto is simply not worth having.

Why not try this formula: blog about what you're going to write about in the paper in about two weeks time. Factor in the feedback and responses to the article you're going to write. See where it goes from there ...

Antoin, you're assuming it would be "a blogger ghetto." You're offering us two sources to support that view, sources I'm not sure understand what's happening in the blogiverse, nor what its potential is.

"Antoin, you're assuming it would be "a blogger ghetto." You're offering us two sources to support that view, sources I'm not sure understand what's happening in the blogiverse, nor what its potential is."

Please, feel free to respond, Antoin. I am interested in your point of view.

Noel, Antoin,

the citizen journalist article is very interesting.

I think the view in the Outing article is very reasonable. Just as it is hard to get worthy stuff from traditional sources (Interviews) it will be hard to get good stuff from blogs. That is one reason that journalists will remain valuable.

Blogs are not so much a new source, but a new and dynamic way to interact with sources and trawl for ideas.

Thomas, I think it's only going to get easier to find good stuff in blogs. Look at Digg or Flickr's Interestingness.

I suppose, in part, it comes down to whether we believe crowds of people are stupid or clever. Some would say it depends on how well they are manipulated one way or the other. I think they're clever, or at least I expect them to be clever and am surprised when they aren't.

If there is one industry that is faced with significant upheaval in the coming years arising from what will take place in the blogiverse, I would bet it's journalism. The competition is just beginning.


I agree in the revolution coming to journalism. It happened to Encyclopedia Britannica (wonder what their status is now) and it is now happening to journalism.

Personally, I don't want to be on the scrap heap of history!!




The problem is that blogging is (and probably always will be) a minority sport, and it generally doesn't appeal to a mass audience. That's just the nature of the creature. It's different from a newspaper, which has to appeal to a wide group.

Am I missing something here?

Why don't you just grab some article -- perhaps
or something from
and print it already?

We have *already* given you permission to print it. (See the fine print about Creative Commons at the bottom of each of those pages?)

Perhaps something from
would be appropriate?

Antoin, I'm not sure about that. When you consider how many blogs there are currently and how many are being added every day, I would say blogging is becoming popular.

Even people who don't blog, but who take the paper, will be intereested in reading what other readers are writing. That's one of the reasons, for example, newspapers publish letters to the editor.

Thomas, nice meeting you yesterday at the SIME ´05 ( conference in Stockholm. Talking about layout, I think it would be great to use your blog as an anticipatory tool of participation, so that you as "my" journalist of preference meeting up with decision-makers could use, or at least be exposed to, questions I would like to pose to them.

In this way the reader becomes a mobile crowd in the footsteps of the journalist indirectly interacting with persons the journalist meets, thus expanding the readers sense of prescence in the global arena. Using the blog format would be the most obvious format combined with a time-schedule of selected events you as a journalist would want input on. The more interesting people you meet, the more interest for your blog.

Read more in my blog on web-pedagogy - exploring the field of collaborative learning at a distance:

1 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Collaborative Newspaper Column - Wiki-style?.

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Earlier this week, i was talking with Joi about his "research" on World of Warcraft. He was telling me about how some of the social norms get maintained by members in the community (and particularly within guilds) and how newcomers learn the social str... Read More