News: The new order

Susan Crawford, bearer of one of the most dazzling brains online, has perfect advice for the old-media people who think search is an enemy. European publishers complained about Google making money off “their content” when the truth is that Google is sending prospective members to “their” communities if only they were ready to welcome them. Susan says:

What Google does is respond to search queries by providing snippets — thumbnail pictures and a line of text here, a line from a page there, a headline — and helping people get to where those things were posted. That’s pointing, not copying, and it’s a key element of Web 2.0.

The publishers, and the news agencies, are having trouble with this evolution — heck, they had enough trouble with Web 1.0, much less the groupness we’re seeing now– and are relying on incumbent laws (like copyright law) to protect their ability to charge for content.

But there’s a great opportunity here that shouldn’t be missed: news companies can become not only providers of great stories (well-researched, well-written, unlike blog posts) but also sources of order. There is so much information now — we need help! We need priority, and sense of impact, and sense of global connections. We need visualizations, and links, and commentary. All of these things are valuable. We’ll pay — with our attention, our loyalty to the brand, and maybe even with money if the reporters’ own personalities are allowed out to play.

A search engine, alone, can’t provide this kind of judgment. Not even Google can say which story is likely to have an important impact on our collective future. There is a Web 2.0 model for publishers, and they can only get there by letting go.

I think it’s about order and also about relationships, about connecting people to information and each other.

  • Crawford gets it! Now, can she get this into the heads of the MSM? Or will they continue down the path of innovation-cowardice?

  • Sometimes the result of the search is what is wanted. The provider of this information spent money creating this content and gets no compensation.

    For example, the bulk of my web site is photographs. Searches generally lead to a specific image which the viewer then navigates to. This satisfies their request (perhaps they want to see what the Grand Canyon looks like, or whatever) and they get value for their actions. I could (in theory) put ads on each page, but this seems inefficient and intrusive.

    Perhaps this is a case where micropayments or my ASCAP type suggestion could equalize things a little.

    If expensive things like news gathering are going to be available there needs to be a way for the providers to get income from even things like headlines or summaries.

  • tigh

    If I am to get this string correct, this is about consumers of information vs publishers of information?
    If this is the case, then there are a couple of business models that I believe should be noted
    1) The Wall Street Journal or National Journal both of whom require full paid membership to access their content.
    2) The Boston Globe who rely on advertising model and a number of very creative revenue streams via
    3) The NY Times, using the best of both worlds by providing an advertising model to access the paper on line but a membership to access some of it’s most desired content.

    If this is about the publishing industry trying to protect thier copy rites, they should and more power to them for doing so. They simply would be well off to develop a business model for people who wish to access it on line. But, if they wish not to have their content published on-line, that is thier choice and they risk loss of those consumers wanting it on the web.

    If someone publishes the latest Simon and Schuster Novel on the web, without consent, that is theft.