Final Project: Development Plan

While I liked keeping track of news and putting it in context, my plan is to completely overhaul my blog and have a different format. Ultimately, having posts that just goes over the news (and not all the news that I would have like to cover) doesn’t give people anything they can’t get by just going and reading the news straight from the source. After all, the audience I’m going for is the kind that eagerly spends a lot of time looking at news sites. So I have to give them content that gives them something above and beyond just a news recap.

Step one of my site is the front page. The centerpiece, above the scroll, will be an interactive map done in flash. This consists of a map centered on Central Asia – users can click on the key countries to get a general overview of why it’s important and what’s going on right now (so this may involve periodically updating the blurb). For each country, there is a link button to recent stories relating to that country. Right now it links to story on my current blog, but I may have it just link to a google news feed.

See what the map looks like now.

Next to the map will be a simple link aggregation (my own headline serving as a short explanation) of the most important foreign policy stories of the day. These will be organized into different categories that may rise and fall in significance (right now, North Korea might be at the top). This aggregation will require me to curate the content – looking at multiple stories about the same subject and choosing the best one. My approach will be to find what I consider to be a few key stories – so there will only be a few sparse links – not an overload like you see on RealClearPolitics.

Then the blog itself (located on the /blog subpage) will involve opinionated commentaries from users. During my presentation, Ian gave the great idea of having a point-counterpoint format. Here’s what I do – I propose an online debate about a specific topic – and there are a million in foreign policy (let’s say, did Obama alienate Israel with his speech in Egypt last week?). I think of a question that could spur debate, then I go and seek out two people that have opposite viewpoints and get them to answer my question.

I will have less regular postings (maybe once a week), but ones that are still timely and have the potential of drawing a lot of interest. The plan is to have my question with a little background to introduce a post, combined with some juicy links, then present both of my commentators and their responses next to each other, and link back to their sites. My goal for a successful site is audience participation, so my intent is to have the question and point-counterpoint spur a debate in the comment thread.

The latest debate post from the blog will go on the front page below the interactive map the aggregation.

Social networking ties in for two different purposes. I will use twitter and Facebook groups to find people passionate about international news and U.S. foreign policy. And I will use the contacts I find to both to ask people to write a response to a question and get people to come to my site to join in the debate. I can also use social bookmarking to find people who are bookmarking articles that indicate an interest in foreign policy, though groups in bookmarking aren’t as well developed as on Facebook.

People would come to my site because they want to participate in the debate. I see debate going on all the time in comment threads in response to articles. My audience loves to express their opinion and I will provide a structured space for them to do so.

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One Response to “Final Project: Development Plan”

  1. Final Project: Overview « U.S. Diplomacy in the Age of Obama Says:

    […] Detailed Development Plan […]

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