Mainstream media in Germany have not been at the spearfront of the thinking about the web so far. If they picked up trends like Web 2.0 at all they did it about 18 months too late, in a rather shallow fashion (best take: users are allowed to contribute too web) and usually framed by terms like hype, bubble, unnamed prophets, pseudo criticism like privacy concerns and the killer argument that it is a gigantic rip off which makes the users do all the work and the money flowing into the pockets of the founders and investors.
To be fair the whole discourse in Germany has been rather solipsistic, is based on a few topics based on hearsay, has basically ignored everything which has been written elsewhere and is running in its own loop and comfort zone. But that’s another story.
Anyways, it has been interesting to watch how many newspapers and magazines have started to adapt web 2.0ish features (social bookmarklets, list of most emailed stories, tagclouds, blogs, vlogs, or communities, readers can send in photos, etc.) despite their contradictory rants. No innovations here, they play it safe and add features a year after authorative news sites from the US or the UK (Washington Post, Guardian, BBC, etc.) started to deploy them.
Some of the more ambitious projects are Campus Community, a social network for students from Die Zeit, Welt Debatte [http://debatte.welt.de/], a platform for serious political discussions from Welt or jetzt, a community from sueddeutsche. The sites are ok, but they all are driven by the growing desire to eat a part of the cake 2.0 without any clear strategy behind and without ever giving up control.
einestages from spiegel.de – Germany’s biggest news magazine – is the latest project which tries to tap into the knowledge of its readers whilst ensuring quality control. The site wants to build a collective and living memory of contemporary history based on documents and stories.
Here you can see history, read history – and write history. einestages makes you, the reader to a partner in this new and one of a kind project: the making of a collective memory of our history.
einestages strictly deploys journalistic standards. Photos and texts will be reviewed by editors before they are published. It is our goal to present the most interesting stories the best way possible together with you.
They use a few metaphors to structure the site: topics, witnesses, lost property office, database of memories, debates. Basically the editorial team sets the agenda and they provide thematical or personal stories and annotate them with documents. They already have teamed up with a few archives so they won’t run short on them. Then the readers can chime in and discuss or rate the stories, upload related photos, propose new topics, etc.
Bottom line: einestages definitely should become a great site for everyone interested in history. It probably is as social as traditional media can get, but they should have kept the altruistic ball a little lower.
(This article originally was written for blognation Germany. Since blognation is gone I have reposted it here)