Pushing the limits

I’ve been working on redefining local journalism for a few months now.  This may be hubris on my part: I’m not a journalist, just a long-time blogger.  I’ve done my 10,000 hours of practice, and then some – but not for a boss.  I’m a little bit good at working out how systems and software work at a fairly basic end-user level (though MediaWiki – Wikipedia’s engine – continues to have me sorely stumped).   I’m a kind of overviewer – a modern term for an unemployable jack-of-all-trades? – as I attempt to make lots of disparate pieces of the communications jigsaw that is latterday mainstream and hyperlocal fit together constructively.

So why listen to me?  Because I’m fascinated by pushing the limits of – in this case – hyperlocal journalism, as well as its moral centre, as far as they can go.

A new concept you can read up a little about here: chester.one.  The idea is to deliver to different devices and audiences, using different platforms, the kind of content they need.

Today, I’ve been fiddling further.  I’ve stumbled across the fact that Google allows customisable versions of its search engine, which allow for focussing its scope on – in this case – the city of Chester and its multitudinous online presences.  From Twitter accounts to Facebook pages to blogs and more traditional websites, everyone and anyone is looking to contribute to the community that is beginning to flourish quite amazingly.  And it seems to me – surely it seems to everyone! – that to be able to access, using a customisable search engine such as the above, all this wonderful content and endeavour – without being obliged to trawl through everything else the rest of the world massages up the Google rankings – would make for two grand and constructive extensions of our online environments:

  1. an accessible and simple reference tool for the burgeoning and evermore self-confident community that is Chester and its surrounding areas
  2. a window onto the very same community for an evermore interested outside world

Now I’m not an expert in search by any means, and whilst today I’ll be inputting quite a few URLs manually, there must be an API-led way of automating this process which kindly techie people might know.

Or maybe not.  Maybe the best way is to carry out this labour URL by URL; maybe it is time that human beings intervened again in editing how the web redistributes its content.

There’s much more, of course, to the project I’d like chester.one to become.  But let’s leave some of the grander brushstrokes – as well as the finer detail – for the people who’d really like to collaborate in such an adventure.

In the meantime, let us believe that to have an idea and explore it isn’t ever the goal itself – but simply a first step towards much better ways of seeing, doing and implementing our communities.


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