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An open-source news platform for summarized and scored article search and collaborative research

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jnikola Oct 18, 2021
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All people read the news sometimes. Sometimes it's interesting, sometimes knowledgeful and sometimes it's just fun. But what's great is that we all read the same stories and perceive them from our own standing point/perspective.
What if we integrated all news channels into an open-source platform for collaborative news scanning, sorting, scoring, and summarization?

The goal

A new source of collected, validated, and open-to-research news that would replace today's "read-only" standard.

Why would we do this?

There are numerous problems with today's news that could be solved with this platform:
  • we don't know how true/biased is the information
  • we don't know which news to read because there is just too much
  • articles are just too long and full of (un)necessary details
  • I enjoy the article but would like to know more about the topic - where to start?
  • I understand/personally know the subject and would like to help by contributing
  • I want to play a detective and track a certain topic through period of time, but can't keep track
With this platform, we could make news more straightforward, unbiased, connected in terms of time, place and context and more interesting for everyone. The community would benefit by better understanding the news, easier cause&consequence detection and a possibility of earlier intervention. The news would become the input, not only the output and we could do all kinds of statistics on any data from e.g. fashion, art, finance or global warming.

The concept

Collect the data. One team would focus on previous data and organize it in categories, add keywords, etc. The other team would learn how to collect real-time news, update the old versions and generally be "up-to-a-second".
Summarize the data. Same articles would obviously be analyzed multiple times, since many newspapers publish the same article on a single topic. Based on the similarities and differences between the articles, article on a single topic would be summarized to represent the most unbiased piece of text on a topic. The user would have an additional feature to turn off the "sum" function and see the vast amount of information collected from all the sources on a single topic.
Score the data. If the summarized article shares many facts with the articles it has been generated from, it would be marked as highly consistent and probably true. If, on the other hand, one article stands out with the amount and the specificity of data on a single topic, it would be marked as non consistent and questionable, until further checked. Similar score would be given to a news sources. Scoring would be done dynamically and repeatedly, so the news stay up-to-date and represent the current state of knowledge on a subject.
Connect the data. This is the part where the collaborative effort would be needed in order to draw connections on a similar/distant topics. Platform could use kind of an article linking method seen on heritage trees, where multiple connections could be drawn between members of the tree. That way, data would be organized in time, representing not only the up-to-date news on a topic, but also a wider context, time-period and connection with other topics.
Explore and contribute. The result of a step 4 would be the open-source up-to-date summarized and scored news platform with tons of statistics. Any enthusiast, amateur or a professional, could export data and analyze it the way how it wants. People could finally use the news to find new patterns of behaviour, help solving crimes or predict future problems.

The session fits good in the context of this one, and would bring us closer to this, too.
Creative contributions

The danger of having a centralized, massively used platform

Povilas S
Povilas S Oct 19, 2021
I like the idea, just want to point out that if such platform became nr. one news source for most people (similarly to how Facebook is nr. one social media platform for most people) there would surely be efforts from interested parties to manipulate the data on the website in a way that the outcome would benefit those parties similarly to how Cambridge Analytica used Facebook data to influence the outcome of a few major political elections.
Even though having only decentralized (scattered) news sources is bad on one hand, since it's difficult to test the level of bias on an individual source without first comparing many different sources together (which takes a lot of work and therefore isn't something an average reader would do), on the other hand, it's more difficult to manipulate the influence that such news sources do to the readers, because different people choose different sources, they can choose to read lesser-known alternatives, etc.
Currently, each country/region has its popular news source(s) that most people read. The platform that you propose would likely be international, so if it was convenient and successful, people would gradually turn to reading mainly on that platform and it might become like Facebook for world news. It would be much easier for people with power to manipulate one massive platform and get a desired global outcome than to manipulate many separate smaller sources and get the same massive outcome.
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jnikola3 years ago
I agree with you. Centralization could, indeed, lead to what you described. That's why I would focus on creating a platform that collects and makes the news concise and clear, but that wouldn't be the main reason why people use it. People would use it because they have access to brief news on certain topics, with a possibility to use the "full mode" and check all the additional information with the citation. In other words, they would use it because they can read about the topic, plus learn about the different perspectives of the problem of specific news sources. That adds another complexity layer, gives a user an option to fully investigate and analyze the data, but leaves no space for data manipulation. Since the platform does not generate new data, just collects, presents, and "annotates" the facts, I guess, unless the algorithm is hacked, data cannot be manipulated. Feel free to prove me wrong :)
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Povilas S
Povilas S3 years ago
Juran Everything can be manipulated:) You don't have to hack the algorithm, you can circumvent the rules by which it operates. From what you described, the first thing that comes to mind of how such news site can be manipulated is creating fake news sources that would influence the outcome of news summaries that most people would read. This would be similar to how massive numbers of fake youtube accounts can be created automatically in order to follow/engage on a certain channel for it to gain influence on youtube.
Most people would only read the short summaries of news approximated from many separate sources (most would be lazy to read more than that). To influence the outcome of a certain summary you'd need to create many fake articles on a certain topic to tilt the outcome of a summary to your desired side. You could hire people for this to write the articles, bribe certain news portals to allow some biased articles (which I'm pretty sure is happening already anyway), or create AI-generated articles, it all depends on how the algorithm of the proposed site would operate.
But again, I don't think that this is the reason to not make such a site at all, it's just a drawback that should be taken into account.
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jnikola3 years ago
Povilas S Thank you for pointing this out.
I suggest implementing the validation factor then. The platform would work with validated sources. Every source would be evaluated based on its publishing history and given a validity score. Those with high validity score would be considered more important than those with a low, and would, consequently, have a greater influence on what ends up in the summarized article. That way the articles by just created publishers or random stories on Twitter would not have any impact on the final article.
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Gamifiying the news

jnikola Oct 18, 2021
For those who read the news just for fun, this approach could make news even more interesting. Imagine having lots of interesting data (clues :D) about a specific topic that doesn't take much time to read, is validated, and can be explored and reanalyzed. I smell a lot of new Sherlock's coming out of the shadows!
To make it fun and meaningful, a community of contributors could be formed. Contributors could be awarded for their efforts by receiving badges, crypto, or any other awards. Data could be analyzed collaboratively, new data generated, problems or crime cases solved, and the contributor's ideation and problem-solving skills sharpened! Just like a game!
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General comments

Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni3 years ago
Another benefit of a centralized famous platform is that people would stop looking for news anywhere else. If they come across a rumor on social media, they would go to the platform and confirm it. Also, if someone tries to spread rumors using the platform, they would be identified easily using their login credentials. Every piece of news would need to be posted along with the author's name and credentials.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic3 years ago
I think this could be a solution with a similar goal
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jnikola3 years ago
Darko Savic this sounds very interesting, but I think it's focused on more general social problems. As they say, they "seek to foster the emergence of new forms of open societies that are capable of employing exponential technologies as a safe and effective force for good." If I understood correctly, they want to create a healthy open transparent society, where my idea could easily fit, but it's only one solution out of many they seek for.
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