MixedInk is Digg for Collaborative Writers

In private beta until today, the MixedInk collaborative writing platform has launched the public beta version of its product. This is a democratic writing and publishing platform that takes the Creative Commons license to the next level, enabling entire communities to work together on a single document or publication.

While this isn’t the first time this concept has been approached with an online tool, D.C.-based MixedInk is using a new angle for automating much of the process, essentially eliminating the need for wikis in the traditional sense, or even editors. As MixedInk promotes a democratic process, each document submitted by a member of the community can be voted upon, which pushes that document up in rank.

The user that has initiated the topic for the collaborative document can then take the highest ranked document and use it for their purposes. The other highlight of MixedInk’s service is the way in which a collaborative document is created. Instead of many users re-editing a single document or an editor picking and choosing various aspects of multiple users’ content, any member of the community can mix and match different pieces of all related documents in order to create a single, cohesive submission which can then be voted upon.

Such a democratic process also requires the diligence of all its members instead of just the editors, meaning that the community members would need to read all the submissions in order to truly create a comprehensive document that potentially represents the best of all individuals involved.

But MixedInk helps you out with this aspect of its democratic process by recommending relevant portions of related documents as you type your own submission or browse through others’. You can highlight the portion of the text that you like, and add it to your notes or a live document being created on the site. MixedInk automatically tracks who’s content is being used where, to stay in line with the Creative Commons licensing attributions. For its public beta launch, MixedInk is also announcing a partnership with Slate magazine, which is using the collaborative publishing platform for a collective Innagural Address.

So is this a step towards true online democracy? There are always inherent issues with the democratic process in terms of individual responsibility, not to mention the self-selected users that would join a collaborative platform in the first place. But I certainly think the concept behind MixedInk is moving in the right direction, and such a service can be used far beyond inaugural addresses or newspaper articles to include nearly every aspect of traditional media both online and offline.

MixedInk from MixedInk on Vimeo.