New Social Journalism Site: Intersect

Intersect is a brand new community journalism Web site founded by some prominent Seattle journalists. Visitors contribute personal stories organized by time and location. My first impression is that Intersect feels like a cross between LiveJournal and Wikipedia. I assume the business model is to add advertising as the site grows.

The big question is – does adding the time and location dimensions really motivate writers to add more stories? I contributed a couple of stories one about my trip to Peru and another about  Monica and Jason’s wedding. After adding two stories, I can feel a definite drive to keep filling in different times and places – but not enough to document my whole life. I do think the site has the potential to take off with more journalistic types. For some people, the drive will be very similar to what drives wikipedia authors – the sense of incompleteness keeps you writing.

Intersect deserves huge credit for launching early, with a great looking site. I really like that you can assign dates to your profile photos so you can see how people change over time. I would like to see the site become more people-centric in general. The site has the capability of tagging friends in posts, but I think shared stories should receive primary emphasis. I read in a book once, that a local newspaper promoter increased the circulation of his news paper by simply including as many names as possible – people love to see their names in print (even on the web). For example, it would be fun and useful to have the ability to assign/suggest places & times to friends, the way Quora allows you to assign topics to people.

One subtle and cool feature I like is the time-line heat map. I think more elements like this that provide a subtle feeling of score boards and points should be incorporated. For example, Intersect should include counters of how many places and years you’ve documented. Perhaps even the number of friends you’ve tagged. The site doesn’t have to be a game, but a few numeric counters will help inspire more activity.

A couple other thoughts:

Seattle has a couple established local blogging collectives. I wonder what these hyper-local bloggers think. Given the strong historical angle to Intersect, it may not be a replacement for local blogs.

I kept looking for a global search box, so I could search for example for SXSW and see if there were any stories from Austin.

Also, I question the tact of building a stand-alone Website for intersect. Why not start with a time and location plugin for WordPress (perhaps with a cool timeline widget) to allow people to keep blogging on their own sites, and show the aggregate view on Or – for that matter why not start with a Facebook application?

Lastly, just a techie note that SEO optimized URLs will be key to your success. Instead of “” use “”

I’m looking forward to watching the site evolve.