DocumentCloud is a new service being developed with startup funding from the James L. Knight Foundation. It sounds like an excellent service. It will be software, a Web site, and a set of open standards that will make original source documents easy to find, share, read and collaborate on, anywhere on the Web.”
I cannot help but wonder why libraries are not at the forefront of projects like this.
Started by reporters at the New York Times and ProPublica, this service will give individuals and organizations involved in original reporting mechanisms for sharing the documents they obtain and discover and making those documents available to other for new reporting and new uses.
Over two dozen organizations are working on the development of DocumentCloud, including traditional publications and news organizations such as The Atlantic, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, The Seattle Times, Thomson Reuters, Washington Post, and WNYC Radio, as well as organizations that collect and publish documents, such as The National Security Archive, ACLU National Security Project, OpenCRS, and the Sunlight Foundation,
Users will be able to search for documents by date, topic, person, location, etc. and will be able to do “document dives,” collaboratively examining large sets of documents. Think of it as a card catalog for primary source documents. DocumentCloud is not meant to be a general document hosting service, like Scribd, Docstoc or Google Docs. Our goal is to build a service that makes source documents easier to find and share regardless of where they are hosted. It is a complement to these services, and not a competitor. the goal is to make documents even easier to find on search engines. DocumentCloud will have information about documents and relations between them, for example what locations, people, or organizations a group of documents have in common. Conceived of by journalists working at ProPublica and The New York Times, DocumentCloud will be managed as an independent nonprofit.
Their FAQ notes: “Will there be an API? Hell yes.”
See also: Coming soon: Data mining made easier, By Alex Byers, Nieman Watchdog (July 11, 2009).