FAQ

General

Who is this FAQ for?

Potential collaborators, advisors, and funders who have heard about this project and want to learn more.

Soon this will be updated with more basic information about rarticles, but for now it’s intended for those who already have the gist. If you somehow ended up here and don’t know what a rarticle is and are curious contact us info@rarticle.com!

Why is this just an ugly google doc?

For now, for ease of implementation, iteration, and collaboration between technical and non-technical participants, we are simply using a google doc.

Enjoy the leanness while it lasts - this will soon be replaced with a “real website.”

How can I help?

Great! We’d love having more hands on board in whatever capacity.

Also, if you just think this is awesome and want to contribute but you still don’t know how -- let us know, and we’ll figure something out together. We love having people to bounce ideas off of and may even start hosting brainstorming sessions and worksessions.

For all of the above, just contact us at info@rarticle.com!

What if I just want to use this when it is “done”?

We’d love to keep you in the loop, and perhaps talk to you briefly about what makes this exciting. Email us at info@rarticle.com with subject line “are we there yet?” and we’ll let you know when we have something the more general public can use!

Project Details

Can I see an example?

Not yet. We don’t have something ready to show publicly, and we don’t want to prime potential collaborators with a fixed idea. We are still in the “let’s collect all the awesome possibilities phase.” It’s more effective (though admittedly more difficult) to do that by expressing our underlying intent than with a concrete example.

It turns out we get more brainstorming ideas from people when we say - e.g. what if you can’t use any hyperlinks? What would a rarticle be like then? (yes, we do intend to use hyperlinks - but there is so much more than you can do!)

If you really want an example we can probably share something with you privately. Let us know at info@rarticle.com.

Journalism is about stories! Rarticles ignore that! It can’t work!

That’s not a question! We actually anticipate the rarticles will allow authors to create even more compelling stories than they had in the past. Would you prefer to watch a recorded presentation of a friend recounting her recent experiences -- or have a conversation with her, asking about the details that you find fascinating? Rarticles can bring you closer to that sort of relationship with the author.

That said, there are many different kinds of journalism, and rarticles won’t always be better than traditional mediums. Rarticles are potentially less relevant to basic factual news, and more appropriate for investigative journalism and feature writing.

Finally, the rarticle medium is very general, and rarticles will be very different from one another. Some rarticles will be more focused on a narrative and will use design patterns appropriate for that (e.g. a correspondent's experience in a war zone). Others may be more conceptual or rhetorical and they can use different patterns appropriate for that domain (problems with government funding).

Is this fundamentally new? How is this different from ____?

Nope, this is not “fundamentally” new. We've had things that are (very simple) "interactive relational articles" for as long as we've had articles, and they had the same basic goals of conveying information. Just like we’ve had “interactive data visualizations” for as long as we’ve had charts. Older charts just had less potential interactions - all you could do was draw on them and copy them over!

Many organizations are experimenting with new ways to convey and distribute content. Some have a similar intent -- to enable effectively conveying complex information. Some use similar “design patterns” -- similar approaches to representing or viewing information -- we might call these rarticles too.

But we have yet to see a tool which enables authoring and viewing such content without very extensive software engineering experience. We are not just naming a thing -- a rarticle. We are collecting design patterns and building an open source toolkit to make it easier to create that thing. It won’t be trivial to use initially, just like d3.js didn’t make it trivial to create powerful data visualizations. But it will be much easier than building from scratch. Over time it can grow into something any journalist can use.

What’s with the name?

It’s a work in progress. It may change, but for now “rarticle” is a short and memorable shorthand for “interactive relational article” which describes the concept well enough. It also follows the same “pattern” as “interactive data visualization” and “data driven document” which I’ve found to be useful analogies.

What obstacles do you see to Rarticle adoption by journalists?

Technical obstacles

Initially, there still be a significant technical hurdle, so that will slow adoption to those comfortable with basic web technologies, and with news organizations that can handle “custom articles.” However, both independent writers and top news organizations like NYT and BBC are actively developing technology with similar hurdles, and have seen great success with those mediums in spite of the hurdles.

Individual interest

Our conversations with journalists also suggest that for some, authoring a rarticle will likely feel like a natural part of the journalistic process, and even liberating -- it will allow them to convey their content and intent more effectively and efficiently than a strict linear narrative. For others it just won’t be the best medium to convey their journalistic intent.

What is your roadmap?

Phase 1

Phase 2

Phase 3

Later Phases