David Stern – MixedInk

Posted on 04. Oct, 2007 by in Tools

Your work in networked/citizen/collaborative journalism.
MixedInk is a startup building a democratic, collaborative, web-based writing platform. The platform is something like a wiki, except that it would allow an infinite number of simultaneous contributors, it enables mass expression of a collective opinion on a subjective or controversial topic, and it generates a final, aggregated, concise text within a limited time period.

Within the sphere of journalism, MixedInk will allow large groups of people to co-author op-eds and news articles. As journalism becomes increasingly transparent, crowdsourced and collaborative, we will help citizens and amateur journalists brainstorm, vet ideas, and craft effective narratives together.

What are your goals?

At a concrete level, our goal is to enable masses of individuals to express their opinions through collectively authored text in a fun, community-driven environment. Speaking more broadly, we aim to help bring about a more democratic public sphere.

Notable achievements?

We have not yet launched publicly and are currently in the midst of early (private) beta testing, so we don’t have much to brag about yet. When the time comes, you’ll hear from us.

Lesson you’ve learned (including mistakes you’ve made)

We have learned that there are often trade-offs between democracy and usability. Specifically, after watching how new users respond to our tool, we have had to compromise on some of our loftiest goals in order to make our platform simpler and more fun to use. If we cannot encourage participation, all our ambitious, idealistic aims are for naught!

Are you getting revenue for this? How?

After launching, we will offer a free, ad-supported version on our site, and a white-label, enterprise version to partners and clients.

What’s next? What do you need to get to the next level?

1) We plan to expand testing over the next couple of months to larger and larger groups. We have the first several of these groups lined up, but will require additional partners to organize testing at the largest scale.
2) We are looking for investment to help build our organization and finalize the development of our software as quickly as possible.
3) We expect to launch publicly in January 2008.

Anyone you’d like to talk with, learn from, or work with at the summit

Pretty much everyone in attendance is doing interesting work, and many are potentially partners, so please feel free to approach me. In particular, though, I would be interested in speaking with Jonathan Weber, John Wilpers, Michael Meyers, Steve Rubel, Mike Krempasky, Micah Sifry, Emily Gertz, and the organizers, David Cohn and Jeff Jarvis.

4 Responses to “David Stern – MixedInk”

  1. Dan Pacheco

    07. Oct, 2007

    This sounds really interesting and I would love to see your beta next week, if there’s something you can show. In terms of “next steps” for citizen media, enabling collaborative story creation and editing makes a lot of intuitive sense. I’d be interested to know how you plan to facilitate this at a local level, though. Targeting organizations might be a good fit. The challenge with “hyperlocal” , particularly when it comes to collaboration, is targeting enough groups with shared topical interests to generate enough critical mass. That’s not as difficult at a national/global level due to the scale.

  2. David Stern

    09. Oct, 2007

    Dan – thanks for your optimism and interest.

    Agreed, MixedInk will require a critical mass which few localities can offer. While the focus of the conference is hyperlocal, ours isn’t – at least, not initially. That opens up a whole different set of issues we’re not yet ready for!

    Targeting organizations is indeed one of the ways we plan to get to the scale required.

    Looking forward to speaking with you further at the event tomorrow.


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