MovableCite: Keeping Web Citations in Sync

The Knight Foundation and Mozilla are sponsoring a contest that asks “What should a news website look like in 2011 and beyond?”. The contest is dubbed MoJo, for Mozilla+Journalism. One of the ideas I’ve been mulling about recently is how to solve the problem of updates to articles after they’ve already been quoted and reposted by other websites or blogs. You find my entry to the MoJo Challenge here.

This problem affects the news industry in a big way as journalists, bloggers, and other media groups can end up inadvertently propagating outdated information.  So the idea with the MovableCite project is to create an easy, open way for one website to communicate to another, to check for updates to specific portions of text that may have been quoted.  

Here’s a list of some of the projects that offer page change notification as a service: changedetection.comchangedetect.com,  femtoo.com,  followthatpage.com,  websnitcher.com,  watchthatpage.comfeed43.comand here’s one from Google.

However, as far as I know, this specific problem remains unsolved.  The existing solutions mentioned above require the user to monitor alerts or notifications that will make them aware of changes.  However that means a human has to monitor, understand and then make the required changes and humans don’t scale very well. None of these will make the changes for them, and using RSS or XML doesn’t work for people who are quoting specific portions of a text body.

Also, many of the aforementioned services are paid and/or proprietary, while I think this needs to be an open standard for the sake of citizen journalists.  The idea here is to cache a profile of the original content, then run a background process that looks for edits or modifications.  Watch the video below and follow MovableCite on github to find out more this project.