My suggestions for, who aim to report on global solutions

Dowser logo is a new online news site that aims to cover solutions to social problems. It’s journalism, but focussed on what we are learning about what can be done.

A media theorist might say this is reporting from a “solution” frame. Whatever you call it, I support the idea.

They are actively soliciting feedback on their idea. This was mine:

Great idea.

I think solid information on who is solving which problems is really important. I have three broad suggestions.

1) Please consider including a set of “topic pages” as well as running news stories. Social problems are often complex and contextual, and we badly need continuously-updated primer articles that bring the newly curious up to speed on specific problems.

2) If you guys have any money at all, you should solicit contributions from freelance journalists for coverage and analysis of interesting global projects.

3) consider publishing in more than one language, or allowing hybrid computer-human translations using, e.g. the free World Wide Lexicon system.

I’m a freelance journalist and computer scientist living in Hong Kong, who specializes in applications of technology to social problems. @jonathanstray on twitter.

Would love to keep in touch.

There’s a great deal more I could say on why I made these specific recommendations. For now, I’ll leave it to the hyperlinks. For additional ideas on how to offer good translations of every page for near-free, see also, a successful volunteer news translation community with 100,000 users.

(hat tip: @NiemanLab for bringing them to my attention.)

How Many World Wide Webs Are There?


How much overlap is there between the web in different languages, and what sites act as gateways for information between them? Many people have constructed partial maps of the web (such as the  blogosphere map by Matthew Hurst, above) but as far as I know, the entire web has never been systematically mapped in terms of language.

Of course, what I actually want to know is, how connected are the different cultures of the world, really? We live in an age where the world seems small, and in a strictly technological sense it is. I have at my command this very instant not one but several enormous international communications networks; I could email, IM, text message, or call someone in any country in the world. And yet I very rarely do.

Similarly, it’s easy to feel like we’re surrounded by all the international information we could possibly want, including direct access to foreign news services, but I can only read articles and watch reports in English. As a result, information is firewalled between cultures; there are questions that could very easily be answered by any one of tens or hundreds of millions of native speakers, yet are very difficult for me to answer personally. For example, what is the journalistic slant of al-Jazeera, the original one in Arabic, not the English version which is produced by a completely different staff?  Or, suppose I wanted to know what the average citizen of Indonesia thinks of the sweatshops there, or what is on the front page of the Shanghai Times today– and does such a newspaper even exist? What is written on the 70% of web pages that are not in English?

Continue reading How Many World Wide Webs Are There?