Sunday, November 02, 2008

Aggregatr - All The Media That's Fit To Aggregate

Knight News Challenge Project Title: Aggregatr - All The Media That's Fit To Aggregate

Click on the link above to read and rate the proposal that Stefan De Clercq and I submitted for this digital media grant.

Describe your project:

Currently in beta version, is a website that enables users simultaneously to produce and consume all the media that's fit to aggregate. With a customizable one-size-fits-all template, any citizen editor with access to the internet can arrange media topically or geographically on an interactive Drudge-type report. Select, click, drag, and publish news content on the user-friendly layout. With bookmarklets, the site also allows users to send hyperlinks conveniently to contacts on discrete buddy lists.

Aggregatr's strength is in tailor-made reports on whatever domain of news the citizen editor distributes to her readers, friends, or employees. A user's unique amalgamation of links, photos, and videos caters to any issue: African geopolitics, pharmaceutical research, or educational advocacy. One can simultaneously curate multiple reports on different subjects and then distribute the reports to targeted consumers. User-generated examples of news aggregation are the Persian Post, Joe the Plumber's Report, and The Word on Main Street, which reflect the citizen editor's worldview, preferences, and reflexivity within the Aggregatr community.

Beyond a report's URL and RSS feed, news distribution will also be achieved with the PublishNow button, which will embed the report into an convenient email newsletter format automatically sent out daily, weekly, or monthly. The scalable niche markets that are reachable with this technology are endless. Citizen editors can deliver publications in domains where no news compilation existed previously, and the portal's popular Drudge reference appeals to a broad demographic range. On the Aggregatr home page, which is still being developed, users will view stats on the most viewed, most notable, and most recent reports.

How will your project improve the way news and information are delivered to geographic communities?

Heralding the advent of the citizen editor, Web 2.0 has changed the way we communicate news. While transcending the limits of geographically-bound media businesses, Aggregatr best serves under-covered communities in places like the Middle East, India, and China. With Aggregatr, a user can distribute news links from media that are blocked or banned. This delivery package is also critical when there is a lack of news dissemination by the press in restricted areas, complementing the work of citizen journalists as part of hyperlocal news outlets. Often, grassroots media in these international areas lack the tools to be effective as news gatherers and distributors, especially of homegrown news.

How is your idea innovative? (new or different from what already exists)

Aggregatr is a fusion of Drudge Report, Publish2, Daily Beast, and Delicious, with immediately recognizable visual appeal. Today's citizen editor is tomorrow's Huffington guru. Aggregatr is not a mechanical news selection algorithm like Google News. Rather, the application's customized aggregation harnesses the value of human editorial intelligence in the construction of a democratized infrastructure for specialized news. Aggregatr tears down the wall between editor and audience, while synchronizing production and consumption. This completely free way to disseminate news via the link economy epitomizes the power-to-the-people approach. Unique user reports are the primary, distinctive focus - making Aggregatr more than a social news site.

What experience do you or your organization have to successfully develop this project?

The co-founders of Aggregatr began planning the concept as students at the University of Pennsylvania five years ago. Their goal was to produce a web application that would allow every news consumer to publish a personalized aggregation of stories that could be viewed from anywhere in the world. Hence the birth of the citizen editor.

News-junkie Stefan De Clercq is the technical brain behind Aggregatr, which he created as the optimal way for people to share news. Having lived equal parts of his life in three nations, Stefan has honed his software development skills at two start-up firms in Philadelphia. He continues to develop trailblazing interactive features on Aggregatr.

Currently a New Media student at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, Ben Piven was recently a Fulbright scholar in Mumbai, India. He has reported for the Baltimore Sun and Haaretz and has covered Hurricane Katrina, Hezbollah, and the caste system. Ben focuses on the business and marketing aspects of Aggregatr.

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