Posts about daylife

Daylife in the news

Jon Fine writes about Daylife (where — disclosure — I’m a partner) in Business Week and reveals a new program Daylife is soon to announce enabling any publisher or blogger to offer pages on any topic.

But Daylife is readying a much more accessible service, one with larger implications for the news ecosystem. This summer, Daylife will launch what Shardanand calls a “grab-and-go” service. This essentially enables anyone, anywhere, to build and customize Daylife-powered pages on virtually any topic, be it bird-watching or basketball, and fold them into their own sites.

The company is still mulling how to split ad revenue on the grab-and-go pages between Daylife and the sites that build them. But if the application and its underlying ethos take off—a big if, obviously—the distribution of news on the Web could become much more fluid, and news experiences much more omnipresent. The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times can be everywhere, including on each other’s sites. And it will further define the Web’s news economy as one driven by the link rather than the destination site.

I talked to Jon about the story some days before the AP kerfuffle started but as I’ve said in my posts, it’s all part of a story about new economic models of media and new architectures of distribution.

(Cool picture of Daylife founder Upendra Shardanand with the column.)

(See my fuller disclosure at the end of this post.)

The ethic of the link layer on news

A few shows ago, On the Media reported on a revolt against the Associated Press in Ohio, where papers across the state are trading and publishing each others’ original stories rather than sending them through the AP homogenizer. There are a few important implications in this, one about the fate of the AP and the other about an ethic I think news organizations must adopt to link to and promote original journalism.

The link layer on news

In the ecosystem of links and the new architecture of news that it spawns, I believe it is vital that we as an industry find ways to point to and give credit to original reporting. That is how original journalism will be supported, in the end: by monetizing the audience that comes to it, whether through advertising or contributions.

This leads to a new Golden Rule of Links in journalism — link unto others’ good stuff as you would have them link unto your good stuff. This emerges from blogging etiquette but is exactly contrary to the old, competitive ways of news organizations: wasting now-precious resources matching competitors’ stories so you could say you’d done it yourself. That must change.

This ethic of the link will become all the more important as news organizations pare down to their essence. I’ve said often that they will have to do what they do best and link to the rest.

And I believe that it will become important for us to link to our sources and influences — as well as transcripts and additional reporting — to show readers how we arrived where we have in a story. When I was last in London, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger called this footnoting a story. He’s better educated than I; I’ll call it linkboxing.

Add that together and we end up with a new link layer atop the news: links to original reporting; links to complementary reporting; links to sources (not to mention links to and from discussions). It’s part of the new architecture of news that I wrote and doodled about here. Upendra Shardanand, the founder of Daylife (where I am a partner), wrote about it here, arguing that the key to the new architecturer is superior navigation to news.

This is why I got excited about working on Daylife, because I believe it provides key infrastructure for this link layer: It allows sites to link to the world’s coverage of a topic — so they can link to the rest and so they can put stories in context — and it also sends traffic to journalism. One thing we’re working on is finding ways to get better at sending traffic to journalism at its source. There are a few algorithmic solutions to see who was early in on a story, but this is also where the ethic of the link also comes in: If everyone links to — not just attributes but links to — the Washington Post’s coverage of Walter Reed then it will make it easier to find where stories begin. We should expose credit where credit is due.

The link layer is also why I got involved with Publish2, sitting on its board, because it will provide the platform for that linkboxing. I say all this not just to plug two companies in which I have an interest but to show that there is a method to my madness. I want to be involved in building of the new architecture of news.

The Associated Press and the link layer

So now I return to the Associated Press. This new ecology of news is what’s at work in Ohio. By running other papers’ stories, the newsrooms are participating in a print version of linking to original journalism. Importantly, these stories are not going through the AP mill, being rewritten under an AP style and brand (which its contract with papers allows because the AP is a cooperative). Instead, now the original stories are getting more attention across the state.

Susan Goldberg, editor of the Plain Dealer, told Bob Garfield on OtM: “I think it’s a lot better because we can get the stories faster. Nobody is rewriting them. … We don’t really need that function.” And later: “I frankly think we’re getting better, more distinctively written stories because they’re not going through the AP mill. But I also think that it does allow us to make some smarter choices. We, and everybody else, have smaller staffs than we used to, and we’ve got to pick some priorities.”

What she’s saying, to translate into Buzzmachinese, is that they’re doing what they does best and linking to the rest and they are linking to original journalism: the new architecture at work.

I have no doubt the Goldberg-Garfield interview caused a hard gulp down the street from me at AP HQ, where they’re dealing with budget-choked newspapers complaining about rates. That is what this little revolt is really about. These dissidents are not trying to kill the AP; they depend upon it more now that their staffs are shrinking. But one wonders what a world looks like with a shrunken AP or, God forbid, without one.

Does the AP possibly become more of a curator of original stories than a reprocessing mill? What reporting does it still need to do complement the work that local papers do best? Do they still need state wires and bureaux or can papers indeed go it alone? As papers inevitably become more local, will they — should they — even bother with national and international news or should they just link to it via smart aggregation?

How does competitor Reuters play into this? Is it in a better position because it is not hampered as a cooperative and is building a consumer brand? I’ve talked about a reverse syndication model as a new opportunity, which was actually sprung from a talk with an AP executive but it is Reuters that is executing on it (rather than syndicating its content to Yahoo, Reuters is now sending them headlines, Yahoo sends Reuters traffic, and Reuters shares the revenue that results; this is linking with money attached). What does a combination of Reuters’ original reporting and, say, Daylife’s aggregation provide in covering the rest of the world?

This gets even more complex when journalism busts out of its professional fence and it is practiced by many people in many places: the ecosystem only explodes. The AP acknowledges that new structure in its deal with Now Public and Reuters does likewise in its deal with Global Voices.

The transformation of news is obviously not as simple as taking print stories and putting them online and even getting fancy adding video and comments. This transformation is happening at a fundamental, architectural level that has impact we are only beginning to figure out.

But out of this discussion, I’d like to start here: with a discussion of the ethic of the link in journalism.

: LATER: In my email, I just got a link to an important study the AP conducted on news use in the next generation. The PDF of the presentation is here (I don’t see a link to the PR yet). The AP’s Jim Kennedy told my students at CUNY about this. They propose a new model of multiple entry points into news — a new way to look at the process — around facts, updates, background, and followup.

Note well that the AP is trying to get its industry to think ahead and rearchitect news but that’s no easy job.

: Reading the AP study… One of the most intriguing findings is that young people use news to build social capital (to converse or to impress).

A bit of bragging

Pardon a moment of bragging but here’s a widget created by Daylife (where I’m a partner) with the Washington Post (which syndicates PrezVid, which I help write) to track media coverage of the candidates and the issues: which candidate is most associated (positively or negatively) with which issues. Go here to get the full effect.

The spin that sticks (where, full disclosure, I am a partner) gathers and analyzes the world’s news and that allows it to learn some fascinating things about the media’s coverage of the presidential race. Their latest looks at the quotes that were picked up most often by press. In short, these are the sound bites that resonated in the press this week, the spin that sticks. For each candidate:

Barack Obama: “All of our top military commanders recognize that there is no military solution in Iraq”
Hillary Rodham Clinton: “I do not think that a president should give away the bargaining chip of a personal meeting with any leader unless you know what you are going to get out of that”
Christopher Dodd: “You’re not going to have time in January of ‘09 to get ready for this job”
John Edwards: “Elizabeth is a strong woman who speaks her mind and I applaud her for that”
Mitt Romney: “We must not weaken our policy on Cuba until the Castro regime is dismantled, all political prisoners are freed and Cuba transitions to free and fair elections”
Sam Brownback: “It’s much more akin to the conversation that happens around the dining-room table in Nashua (N.H.) or at the state fair in Iowa rather than on a stage with a dozen candidates all trying to squeeze in their consultant-crafted sound bites”
Joe Biden: “This war must end, but there’s much more at stake as to how it ends”
John McCain: “We’re starting to succeed, and I think we’re seeing some shift in public opinion”
Bill Richardson: “I believe that if you leave any residual forces, then none of the peace that we are trying to bring can happen”
Mike Gravel: “I’m going to vote for myself”
Rudy Giuliani: “I took a city that had just about the highest illegality rates in the country and took it down to one of the lowest.”
Dennis Kucinich: “George, I’ve been standing here for the last 45 minutes, praying to God you were going to call on me”
Tom Tancredo: “I am encouraging the families of the victims to pursue the option of a lawsuit in light of this culpability”

While we’re at it, Ken Ellis, Daylife’s chief scientist, also looked at the most common quotes across all news sourcdes and topics since midnight Sunday. The context isn’t always apparent — which is actually what makes it more fun – so follow the links to each newsmaker’s Daylife page:

George W. Bush: “Clearly, the Iraqi government’s got to do more”
Billy Martin: “Mr. Vick has agreed to enter a plea of guilty to those charges and to accept full responsibility for his actions and the mistakes he has made”
Ruth Westheimer: “Bravo that the New England Journal of Medicine is publishing something like that. It’s about time”
John Charles: “People with cancer are surviving longer, elderly people are living longer”
Michael V. Hayden: “I thought the release of this report would distract officers serving their country on the front lines of a global conflict”
Marlon Byrd: “This is something freaky. You won’t see anything like this again for a long, long time. I am glad I was on this end of it”
Rob Moore: “It’s likely these miners may not be found”
Ozzie Smith: “It truly is an honor to stand with the very best defensive players”
Portia Simpson Miller: “Do not wait for the last minute to make the decision to move from where you are”
Bob Murray: “Had I known that this evil mountain, this alive mountain, would do what it did, I would never have sent the miners in here”

(Crossposted at Daylife)

Opening the Davos Conversation

Today, the Davos Conversation project launches with the World Economic Forum (aka Davos), the Guardian’s Comment is Free, the BBC, Huffington Post, and me blogging, and with Technorati contributing a blog feed. Daylife is contributing news feeds and produced the whole project.

This is the WEF’s effort to open up the conversation into and out of Davos. The Davos Conversation will include:
* Blog posts from Davos by those listed above and by other participants contributing to a blog there.
* Comments on those posts.
* News from mainstream and blog sources about Davos, from Daylife.
* News about major participants at Davos, also from Daylife.
* A feed of blog posts from everywhere about Davos, from Technorati.
* Videos sent to and from Davos. See the invitation to send video questions and comments to Davos here and here.
* Links to the webcast sessions at Davos and photos from the snow.

The meeting starts in Switzerland next week, and that’s when you’ll see more content on the page. (The Technorati feed will also go up later today.)

The WEF annual meeting has been a closed session for the world’s machers: an exclusive list of 2,000-plus heads of state and of corporations. But they have been quite serious about opening up the conversation into and out of Davos. Indeed, the theme of this year’s confab is about the shifting power equation and the tools used for the Davos Conversation page are very much a catalyst of that change. This is how I got involved in this, advising on the project and blogging there. I hope some substantive conversations begin here. We’ll see.

: On a separate note, I’m proud that Daylife, where I’m consulting editor, could produce this. Daylife is a platform that enables sites large and small to present relevant news and to put their news and content in context and to create more content and inventory. Daylife is honored to work with the WEF, the Guardian, the Huffington Post, and the BBC to produce the conversation page.

Daylife dawns

I’m excited to report that Daylife, the news startup I’ve been helping on, has launched its site today. Take the tour here.

Actually, Daylife launched its platform a few weeks ago, without fanfare and trumpet, powering the new exportable, embedable NewsTracker on the home page of the Huffington Post (click on a name there and you’ll see pages of news and features about newsmakers built through the Daylife API). As I’ve explained it in email to a few folks, Daylife is a platform of news applications that will feed not only its own site but also, via its API, sites large and small that want to bring new ways to view relevant news to their readers.

I do believe that this is an important element in a new architecture of news, which I’ll write about more later. The service gathers, analyzes, and organizes the news. That analysis will enable us to show news from a high altitude — who’s covering what, where — but also, even more important, it enables you to see the connections in stories among people and topics. Making those connections is what news is all about. Because it is a platform, it helps news sites put their own news in context and present the world of news to readers — which is what readers demand. And because it is a platform, Daylife helps news organizations distribute their relevant headlines and links into the tentacles of the web. We think this is a new way to experience the news, distribute news, and make connections in the news.

It’s a start — a beta — with much more to come. And so please make generous use of the feedback button on the site.

Note that the only thing that is created by editors is the cover you’ll see on the home page. Everything else is automated. I’ve been saying that I am the only editor on earth who is not building an empire. But that is just why it has been so exciting to work on Daylife, to collaborate with an incredible technology team assembled by founder and CEO Upendra Shardanand as they find new ways to analyze, understand, display, and distribute news. I believe that what this does in the long run is send people — and thus support — to journalism at its source.

So more later. As much as it pained me as a blogger and newsman, I chose not to blog this first. Others are writing about it now.

I suggest you go to the site, put in the name of a newsmaker you are interested in, and go from there. It will be like popcorn: You won’t be able to stop.

: LATER: Michael Arrington, among others, criticize Daylife’s lack of RSS and interactivity. No disagreement. Nature of a startup: some things get onto the boat at launch, others hitch the next ride. RSS was one of the last features to get delayed until a later release; it’s coming. I had subscribed to various of the test feeds and got addicted quickly, so I, too, am eager for them to come out. Interactivity is an interesting question for a platform: Is the use of the platform on sites everywhere a rich form of interactivity itself? What is the best form of interactivity on the site: comments or contributions? (This is a corollary to Arrington’s question the other day about whether a blog is a blog without comments…. My own answer is that a blog is a blog if it is involved in a conversation via links or comments.) So I don’t think the answer about interactivity is necessarily as obvious as it may at first appear. But the bottom line of a beta remains: There are lots of good things in the pipeline but at some point, you need to get the platform and product out so people can use it and show you what it can and should be. That’s where Daylife is today. So all this feedback and more is incredibly valuable. And that will be even truer as the full API is released and other sites show us what they want and need and what they can invent around the data Daylife provides. So please do keep clicking, commenting, criticizing, wishing.

Daylife news has the story of the investors behind Daylife, the news startup I’ve been helping. There will be more coming out soon as we are close to a public launch. It’s all very exciting at Daylife HQ and I look forward to sharing more imminently.

(This, by the way, was what I was referring to on my disclosures page when I said I couldn’t reveal the investors behind a startup I was working on.)

Jay Rosen announces an important experiment in journalism today:

In a nutshell: This is publicly supported journalism. The public will come to with story ideas and will collaborate on honing them there. Once assigned by NewAssignment’s editors, the public will contribute both money and reporting to the work that reporters are paid to do. The process is open and the public will have a strong voice and role in the journalism NewAssignment does. Editors will supervise the assignments and the reporting and will edit the stories, assuring that NewAssignment produces quality journalism and also that it is not overtaken by a pressure groups. There’s much more to this with many nuances and Jay examines them all in a lengthy (even for him) FAQ on his blog.

This is an answer — not the answer — to the frequently asked question in the shrinking news business these days: How will we support journalism and investigation? NewAssignment will not replace the work of professional news organizations. It will complement them, attacking the stories that are not being covered. It begins with an article a few articles faith. First: The public will support journalism and investigation. Second: The public will then want more of a voice and a role in that reporting. Third: Given the opportunity to have more of a voice and role, the public will contribute more support. It’s a virtuous circle, if it works.

Jay got funding from the MacArthur Foundation to explore this idea for a year. NewAssignment just received a grant from Craig Newmark‘s personal foundation to fund the work on a pilot project. And NewAssigment is getting help from Daylife, the news startup I’ve been working on. That relationship: Daylife will gather, analyze, organize, and create a new, distributed platform for the world’s news. In a sense, then, NewAssignment is complementary: Daylife shows you what is being covered and New Assignment fills in a few of the gaps about what is not being covered. Daylife will provide some technical and distribution help, starting with a pilot project.

I’ve known about Jay’s vision for NewAssignment for more than a year now and I’ve thrown in my two cents. I think this is an important experiment in pro-am, publicly supported, open journalism. We must explore new business models to support coverage of news and this is one of them. I’m an enthusiastic supporter of NewAssignment and I look forward to working with Jay and you on it and learning a lot along the way.

This is your chance: You’ve said you wonder why some stories are not getting covered. Well, now you can gather together and get them covered. You’ve wanted more of a role in journalism. Now you can be involved from start to finish. You’ve known facts that would matter in news coverage if only you could be heard. Now, you can.