A hack diving into the world of hackers

It’s the third week of Knight-Mozilla learning lab and as we’re looking forward to the lectures of Shazna Nessa, Director of Interactive at the Associated Press in New York, Mohamed Nanabhay, Head of New Media at the AlJazeera Network, and Oliver Reichenstein, CEO of the amazing Information Architects, let’s sum up the second week.

Hacks usually fear to dive into the world of hackers. So it was good to have Christian Heilman, a Mozilla Developer Evangelist, focusing on HTML5 and John Resig, the creator and lead developer of the jQuery JavaScript library, in the boat. They pushed us into the ocean and showed us what’s under the surface of the water: the fascinating world of the open web.

John Resig gave us some interesting insights in the conception and realization of an open-source software project, which is first and foremost organizing communication and documentation in a smart way. Concerning Corrigo this is going to be a real challenge.

Corrigo is planned to be a tool to control quality in journalism. It’s our democratic conviction that such a tool mustn’t be in the hands of the state or the economy. Since the media as the “fourth force” control the government forces, the state in turn and in the sense of “checks and balances” may have no means of controlling the media. And as quality control of media is too important to be run by enterprises with economic interests it has to be run by the public, which is – going back to the philospher of the Enlightenment John Locke the supervisory of a balanced political system.

This means that while building and coding Corrigo as a non-profit and open-source project it’s important to find a balance between the liberty of the open-source community and the goal of creating a tool which empowers the public to take part in controlling the quality of the media without giving them any chance to abuse this power.

As John Resig made me think about the development of open-source software and let’s say some political or economical aspects of Corrigo, Christian Heilman inspired me to rethink the technical realization of Corrigo. Heilman told us what’s possible with today’s and tomorrow’s browsers. He’s a big fan of applications run by the browser because you don’t have to install software or to update a plugin. At the current state of conception we think that a browser add-on is the only way to realize what we have in mind.

Corrigo shall enable its users to flag and correct errors, missing links and typos in online news sources, so that other users see errors and corrections right in context (to get a better imagination of our intent we recommend to check our presentation on slideshare including some first mock-ups). We think that web annotation is the right technology for that. But is a browser add-on based on web annotation technology the only possibility? After having puzzled a playing music video in my browser we’re not sure anymore. There must be ways we haven’t thought about. So let’s go diving! Share your thoughts with us.

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