Aggregating The War

There's a video on YouTube simply called "War."It is a home video of a trip down the stairs and into the street with alarm sirens blaring. Perhaps it was made in Israel (as the descriptive tag "16.7.06 war in haifa. hisbllah attak haifa" suggests), perhaps it was made somewhere else--we cannot be sure.

Is this news? The comments posted by users suggest that it is purely an opinion piece. Is this how news will be ultimately be aggregated in a post-YouTube world?

A very different community of interest can be found at This blog leads with the death toll from the conflict on the left side of the page above the scroll. Is this how news will ultimately be aggregated in a post-blogging world?

The thought experiment here has nothing to do with the war or politics, it has to do with the aggregation of thousands of posts, blogs, video and audio clips--and how one might sort them out.



Forget about technology for a second and just think about how you might accomplish this task by hand. Would you organize items by type? Good guys/Bad guys? How would you know which was which? Is there a civilian mother on any side of any conflict any where on earth who deserves to hold her dead five-year-old in her arms? Maybe you could simply organize the content by "us and them," or by category or geography. Could you imagine a linear stream of video content 24/7 from a war zone without pundits or talking heads sorting out the images for viewers? How would people react? It would not be like "C-span for war" because you would not be able to verify the authenticity or accuracy of the content.

If you spend a few minutes online this week, you will find literally thousands of items directly related to the current crisis in the Middle East. What's new about them is how they are starting to be organized, how easy they are to find and how unfiltered they are. Is this an inefficient system that represents an opportunity for smart businesspeople and technologists, or is this a glimpse of a possible future for the information age?

Perhaps it is neither. It may turn out that people need to be told what the news is and what they are supposed to think about it. The opportunity may simply be for existing news-gathering organizations to conscript the millions of people with home video cameras and camera phones and use their content in their existing news programming.

This is not a new thought, but this week the world witnessed a "real time" up-close and personal view of a conflict unlike any other news presentation it has ever seen. Maybe it was not organized the way we are used to seeing content organized, but, if you knew where to look, the view was prophetic.

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