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« Steve's Apple Bytes | Main | Propaganda Starts at the Top »

January 15, 2005

Comments

John Little

Dan,

Thanks for the mention. TBTN is in fact a Drupal based system. With more time and money (or any time and money) we might have made some different decisions but Drupal allowed us to realize much of our vision at zero cost and only about a month of work.

Tim Andonian

John,
What made you pick Drupal, and what other software were you considering? Can you talk a little about some of the features in Drupal and how you will use them for what purposes in TBTN.
Thanks, good luck and good work.
tim

John Little

For starters it's free.

Drupal's community and publishing features, along with the ability to create very specific user roles, were major factors. Drupal is difficult to get your head around because the publishing model is complex and incredibly flexible. So flexible, in fact, that design and implementation can be a challenge. With Drupal you can implement slashdot-like sites, blogs, billboard type web sites, or something along the lines of your standard major media news site.

Drupal also seems to hold up very well under high traffic. It's fast and there is a throttle feature that, if implemented correctly, can go a long way towards keeping your site from failing under high traffic loads.

I didn't really consider other software for this project. I've played with most of the open (and not so open) source content management systems out there and many of them would probably work just as well. However, I've had recent experince using Drupal on other projects so the TBTN concept was hatched with Drupal's features (and limits) in mind.

Tim Andonian

Thanks John. I am a huge advocate of setting up a blog with the most amount of flexibility from the foundation so as to beable to inform the readership and empower them to use the tool as the community grows and matures. What are some of the limitations you see in the software right now and have they effected TBTN yet, atleast from the backend standpoint?
Can you imagine a senario where you community grows to a point where the logical next step would be to allow for a simple outlet to spawn a new community. For example: You usership really heats up on topics in one particular town and it seems as though that town should just run it's own server and fork the work that has taken place up to that point on TBTN over to more servers. Maybe even have some moderators guide the process and oversee the transition? Is there some functionality in Drupal that might allow for that kind of growth?
This comes from both personal curiousity and planning, and also I have been exchanging ideas on DailyKos about this type of growth potential for a US senate seat candidate from Texas who has been introduced to the concept of blogging. DailyKos is, if not famimliar with it, run on Scoop. Any thoughts on Scoop vs. Drupal?

John Little

"Thanks John. I am a huge advocate of setting up a blog with the most amount of flexibility from the foundation so as to beable to inform the readership and empower them to use the tool as the community grows and matures. What are some of the limitations you see in the software right now and have they effected TBTN yet, atleast from the backend standpoint?"

The TBTN concept is partly rooted in the desire to empower the millions of news junkies out there who don't want to (or can't) blog. It's sort of a strange hybrid that combines elements of Drudge, Google News, and communities like Free Republic, Slashdot, and Democratic Underground. People keep asking me "What's your angle?" but TBTN doesn't have one. We want to elevate interesting stories, showcase good journalism, and present it without bias. What a concept.

I'd like to see better syndication capabilites rolled into Drupal. It seems like only the top page is easily syndicated at this point. We are striving for simplicity and performance so we don't feel too limited at the moment. We'll really know the answer to this question if we hit the 5,10,15,000+ registered user marks.

"Can you imagine a senario where you community grows to a point where the logical next step would be to allow for a simple outlet to spawn a new community. For example: You usership really heats up on topics in one particular town and it seems as though that town should just run it's own server and fork the work that has taken place up to that point on TBTN over to more servers. Maybe even have some moderators guide the process and oversee the transition? Is there some functionality in Drupal that might allow for that kind of growth?"

Yes. Yes. Yes. Some have suggested that we would be better off starting with a local focus and expanding out but I disagree. I definitely see us dialing in the focus to specific communities (or even topics) if the concept works and the demand exists. The creation of topic or community driven offshoots would be quite simple from a technical standpoint. I'm far more concerned about how a couple of guys and some volunteers are going to manage that process and ensure that standards and quality are maintained.

No thoughts on Scoop really.

praktike

john, there's a module that let's you syndicate by vocabulary and node, and another one that lets you syndicate the comments, also by node or vocabulary or even node-type

Nick Lewis

Tim, I'm not exactly sure what you are looking to do with a CMS, but you might consider looking at Civicspace as well.

Karl

HI John. I joined TBYN. Maybe will even contribute to it if I get the chance. Great work!

I'm using CivicSpace, which, at it's core is Drupal. I picked it for the very same reasons as you picked Drupal. My thing is a one person effort right now and I didn't (still don't) have the time to dedicate to look for, or use, something else. Out of the box CivicSpace has provided me with most of what I need and I can see where it can be extended, or modules are available, to provide the rest.

"I'm far more concerned about how a couple of guys and some volunteers are going to manage that process and ensure that standards and quality are maintained." Me too. Me too. I'm still looking for a couple of guys to help :)

Zack Rosen

I'd like to see better syndication capabilites rolled into Drupal. It seems like only the top page is easily syndicated at this point. We are striving for simplicity and performance so we don't feel too limited at the moment. We'll really know the answer to this question if we hit the 5,10,15,000+ registered user marks.

Drupal can syndicate out virtually any type of content in the system. You can put out feeds by taxonomies, or personal blogs, forums, promoted stories, etc. I would suggest installing the "Syndication" module

http://drupal.org/project/syndication

It generates a page with links to all the feeds that your install of Drupal will put out.

jean-paul PINZUTI

a good animation is sometimes worth more than a thousand blogs... please visit: www.markfiore.com/animation/truth.html
for a picturesque view of Armstrong Williams
under a rainfall of dollar bills !

Tim Karr

Hats off to Take Back the News for going one further by actually launching a website that puts to the test the ongoing, and frequently ponderous, speculation over participatory journalism.

But to be successful, any “news sharing community” needs a critical mass of citizens sharing news. I wish you luck, but past experience has shown that it’s difficult to engage a broad community in an effort to objectively cover the world. Many have tried; most have failed. Two recent instances -- the grassroots investigation of the authenticity of the “60 Minutes II” memos on Bush’s military service and the online information mobilization in response to Sinclair Broadcasting’s plan to air a blatantly anti-Kerry documentary prior to the election -- were driven not by a desire to get at the truth of the story but by partisan zeal to get back at the opposition.

If scoring political points is the sole motivation of such participatory news communities, then citizen journalism is nothing more than mob advocacy. I hope you can break that mold.

Tim Karr
Mediacitizen
MediaChannel.org
Media for Democracy

Karl

You bring up a good point Tim: "But to be successful, any "news sharing community” needs a critical mass of citizens sharing news." Getting bloggers to join a site and post to it is difficult, especially since bloggers have their own platforms to share from. I speak with experience :)

I think TBTN stands a great chance, specifically because it is *not* focused on trying to get existing bloggers to join and post. I figure, for my own effort to be successful, I need an audience that grows past its current blogger base. It's a tough nut to crack. It requires a lot of outreach - and a brand associated with a newspaper wouldn't hurt either.

Blaze

What I find interesting about this site is that all the entries contain information that is taken from MSM sites... the NY Times, AP, Reuters, SF Chronicle, etc.

What would this blog refer to if there wasn't a MSM outlet to actually research and report the stories?

kpaul

for those of you looking for a CMS, i recommend CMS matrix. i'm not affiliated with the site, but it's a very useful site.

as for my preference, it has to be Scoop at this point.

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