It’s been useful to follow the latest volleys in the discussion about the future of the “article” news format. The idea being that the article is dead. As summarized by Jeff Jarvis at Buzzmachine:

I want to suggest abandoning the article for the constantly updated topic page (a la Wave). The problem with an article online is that it has a short half life and gathers few links and little ongoing attention and thus Googlejuice. It’s for this reason that Google’s Marissa Mayer has been advising publishers to move past the article to the topic. Abandoning the article for some living, breathing news beast yet to be defined may be a bit too radical for today’s publishers. So instead, I suggest, at least place the article into a space with broader context – archives, quotes, photos, links, discussion, wikified knowledge about the topic, feeds of updates; make the article a gateway to anything more you’d want on its subjects. Daylife (where I’m a partner) is working on something like that.

His summary reads to me a bit too much like something he’s charging suits at CBS News $400/hour to tell them in a meeting, and the guy’s fixation with Google carries enough of a besotted tone as to seem slightly adolescent. And he’s plugging his own company. In terms of grains of salt. But the topic matters for the language exchange. Grouping information by region, or by language insofar as language serves as a proxy for region, has been the exchange’s likely model so far. Lingua is organized by language teams; so is, arguably, the world.

But grouping translated news by topic, and looking to translate a broader variety of information than just “articles” or “pieces of video” might make more sense. It might also make for better information. It’s a way of focusing multilingual news gathering around the news itself (“everything you need to know about human rights today, gathered by GV across many language barriers”) rather than defining the information by linguistic difference (“Here’s what’s being said in Chinese this week”).

This assumes a very open news exchange environment (that is, this is not the “tip sheet” idea some of you have heard discussed; though not yet on this blog).

It’s all pretty theoretical. It’s much of what we’re sorting information, data, and anecdote to help decide. But the “news sourced by language, ” versus “new grouped by topic, but sourced multilingually” distinction seems increasingly fundamental. If there are more discussions out there worth hearing on this, we’d love to know about them, and to listen.

2 Responses to “”

  1. Solanasaurus Says:

    Interesting thoughts… but Lingua (and GV) is organized in several different ways at once isn’t it? On GV in English (and soon the other sites too) everything is organized by topic and you can see all the other languages it’s available in.

    Or do you mean you are leaning to cross-regional, multi-lingual sources for content about X topics?


  2. marcherman Says:

    The latter, yeah. If the sourcing is multilingual, then trying to market that information in “article” format is going to limit us. Sometimes a sentence or two, a la a wire service report, is sufficient, given that it contains information that’s off the radar of anyone who won’t notice it in X language. So the question becomes, does a language exchange “exchange articles” or does it exchange “news” that just happens to be multilingual. And I’m seeing more and more evidence that the second option makes more sense. And “news” is often brief, in a less is more sort of way. Of course, often, more is more too. Speaking of more, this reply is now way too long.

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