Last fall I wrote a long blog post about how the internet was changing journalism and announced a website that was going to address those changes. Fast forward through an insane 8 months that included 7 pivots, 2 trips to SF, thousands of lines of code written by two people with previously no CS background, and we are excited to announce today that kommons.com is live.
After going through a number of iterations we’ve landed on a simple starting point. Kommons is a place to ask questions to public figures. The public figures, in this case, are any of Twitter’s 110+ million users.
There are already plenty of ways to ‘contact’ a public figure like Sarah Palin by tweeting at her or posting on her wall but the experience is woefully imbalanced. For all the rah rah of Twitter’s bilateral format, it’s easy for major public figures like Palin to just use social media as a bully pulpit: she can ignore individual tweets and, in the case of Facebook, outright delete wall posts that challenge her beliefs. Kommons is designed to change this dynamic and rebalance the way public figures answer to their public.
We do this by giving those who want to contact a public figure a substantially better place to talk to each other. Forming a group is often the only way to get public figures to take notice and Kommons helps you form them on the fly by coordinating those with similar questions to build public leverage.
I used Sarah Palin as an example because she’s our most challenging use case and someone I personally have a lot of questions for, but we aren’t designed to benefit any particular party or group. We also aren’t made to be used just for antagonistic use cases. I have questions for Sarah Palin but also questions for people I respect like danah boyd and Tim O’Reilly or even someone like a neighborhood blogger or a friend. Our goal is to apply the journalistic principle of impartiality to every level of the site’s design. A public forum to ask and answer a question from anyone in the world that is fair to everyone involved.
We’re not there yet. This is the beta and there are a lot of bugs and aspects of the site that are still being worked on, but we’re ready for people to try it out. You can start by asking us anything.
Special thanks to: Clay Shirky, Jay Rosen, Daniel Bachhuber, Scott Kidder, Matt Mireles, Justin Shafer, Tal Safran, Chris Cox, Chris Dixon, Joseph Einhorn, Joshua Kushner, Adam L Penenberg, Scott Bonds, Mel Ochoa, Chris Anderson, Alexis Ohanian, Elizabeth Stark, Vadim Lavrusik, David Cohn, Jesse Chan-Norris, Brian Hendrickson, Dave Winer, Lauren Leto, Benjamin Bator, John Borthwick, Tony Conrad, Steven Lehrburger, Nova Spivack, Adam Pritzker, Brad Hargreaves, Matthew Brimer, Josh Young, Lily Q, Nina Yiamsamatha, Nick Brennan, Michael Gluckstadt, Catherine White, Daniel Belkin, Justin Dean, Joseph Coscarelli, Brad Powell, Libby Brittain, Mike Vilensky, Sam Sparks, Suzanne, Charlie, + Nick Brown, Steve Ray, Lucas Ray + Barbara Chow. + @NYUReynolds + @StackOverflow and @NYUlocal
For your feedback, support, development guidance, or sometimes all three. It takes a village.
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