We’re in the process of developing a service called “Story Starters.” It is sort of a fun idea that grew out of an immediate need. The immediate need was a way to connect Blogs with our QABuilder software. Where we’ve ended up (for now) is a general blog starting service. A person or organization posts some list of items they want to be blogged about, and from within blogging software (WordPress to start with), can browse lists and pick the ones they want to blog about. The resulting blog entries are then aggregated and sent back to the posting agent…read more to see why this might be useful.
We needed an efficient way to do it without having to rewrite QABuilder (in the short term-long term we want to take it open source).
So the idea is to use NISO AZ to export questions, list them on an interim site that can be browsed from within WordPress. A blogger would claim a question, and blog about it. The resulting posts are then put in the user’s blog, and returned to QABuilder via the interim site (via NISO AZ).
So this got me thinking…we could post all kind of lists to be browsed and used by bloggers as a starting point. As a blogger I’ve certainly faced the situation when I feel I should blog, but don’t have a topic to start with. For example, in the NSDL we are interested not only in getting bloggers expertise on questions, but answers. We could post a list of recent answers to get bloggers to discuss or add to. We also would like to put up a list of resources in NSDL we want experts to comment on (in terms of quality) or teachers to comment on in terms of using the resources in a classroom.
So we keep going. Imagine a newspaper posting a set of stories they are looking for input on (“tell us your experience with the city traffic”). We are envisioning a way to limit the set of users who can access the list, so a newspaper might let only a select set of freelancers access their story list. Or the city historical society could post an anonymous picture and ask for any information folks might have on it.
The same infrastructure to post digital reference questions for inclusion in blogs could be used to do all of these. It’s kind of like a Slashdot for bloggers.
We’re also looking at ways of embedding structures in these story starters (possibly using tags like Technorati).
So I could post this on the Story Starters service, and ask bloggers for feedback (feature requests). A blogger logs into their blog, browses their set of Story Starters, see my starter, and blogs on it. When they post it, it goes in their blog, and I could collect the responses to guide my development.
Viola, social digital reference.