Allvoices.com is a startup based in the US, but whose executive was here recently trying to meet a number of local bloggers for feedback. One of their founders is also a Pakistani person and was here to cover the elections as well.
They have an interesting twist to citizen journalism, delivered in a very nice UI. Their interface allows them to tie news reported from the front-lines with a geographic location.
A person can then look at the map of the world to see – at a high level – which countries are making all the important news, or to see how the different perspectives and attitudes of bloggers towards an event or piece of news differs around the world.
So lets say the event is the launch of the Apple iphone – you can begin to get a sense of what local issues or services bloggers from all the different countries are considering when talking about the iphone.
The other way in which they try to maintain context is by providing a “similar stories” feature next to each post – when a blogger or user is writing a new blogpost into the system, the system analyses keywords in the post to suggest similar stories in their system. The idea here to incentivize that blogger to make their post richer, and also provide a bigger context to that particular item.
They are currently trying to encourage bloggers to add stories from their blog into the system – the incentive is that as a blog aggregator, allvoices.com will only keep an excerpt on their system and will be able to drive traffic back to the respective blogs.
Hit the jump for my review and analysis.
I think AllVoices has a great platform, but perhaps they are using it for the wrong application. Firstly, two of the main categories relate to somewhat negative news – politics and “conflicts and tragedy”.
To be honest, we get enough of whats wrong with the world in every news channel or paper around the world. I personally would not want to see more depressing news from the front-lines from all over the world. Negative news about any country is not unique, isnt remarkable, and would not grab my attention – neither for allvoices nor for that particular blogger.
Citizen Journalism for politics or tragedy usually gets disseminated more effectively within the local community itself, which would be the people actually affected invariably by such tragedies, conflicts, or incidents.
I think Allvoices should be thinking of interesting, unique, and niche applications of their platform in areas that are most suitable towards their strengths. I’ll list a few below.
One way that I can think of to make Allvoices.com a much more interesting aggregator is if they use it for though-streaming… think about it as a way of instantly knowing what the world knows about [insert tag here].
WordPress.com has a great “tag cloud” that allows people to fly through a particular tag to all of the posts relevant to that tag – blogs are also rated within that tag according to traffic velocity and higher rankings determines more traffic anyway.
If allvoices.com finds a way of parsing through the blogs to determine (using perhaps the same algo they use to find similar stories) which should be rated higher and highlighted, it will create more incentives for bloggers as well as generate more velocity of traffic towards them.
Focusing on tags rather than 5-6 big categories is also likely to result in a greater number of positive, interesting, niche, and “discoverable” stories from the edge that would actually be useful to fly through.
The value of thought-streaming can be developed for brand marketers who wish to track conversations around product launches.
Another interesting idea is to take on the metroblogs platform — engage cultural bloggers from around the world to write about their cities – metroblogs is an amazing platform which has created the right mix of incentives for bloggers from the edge to promote their cities – and most of these news will be positive as well.
The geographical blogging network would be a lot more interesting and positive if I could use it to (1) discover that people in Mexico and India have very similar food, (2) Really really get to know Singapore before visiting next, (3) Follow a rock concert tour around the world, etc.
This niche relevance is valuable if this can be added with a reservations and flights overlay.
Ofcourse, my review is based a bit on my preference – I feel Allvoices may still find people who would want to participate in a global discussion on politics and events, but I still feel that there is a lot more value in finding ways to connect the world together through a global mapping interface.