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Revision as of 04:43, 7 December 2008 by Bill Densmore (talk | contribs) (Picking a content niche: NASCAR example=)

Here are running notes of the Friday morning session in Columbia, Mo., at the "Blueprinting the Information Valet Economy," summit on Dec. 5, 2008 at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, Missouri School of Journalism. Unattributed narrative is paraphrased from participants' comments. Comments attributed by name, although not in quotes, are substantially verbatim, but excerpted. Any statements should be verified with the speaker. -- Bill Densmore

The tasks for Friday

Bill Densmore opened the session with a draft agenda and said he was hoping the group could:

  • Confirm key questions to answer in development plan
  • Is this a business or an industry collaborative, or both?
  • Are next steps inside the academy, outside, or partnership?
  • Who should take the lead?

Fostering collaboration between bloggers and MSM?

If the enabling technology is possible, it could facilitate a lot of collaboration between news organizations and bloggers.

Takeaway idea: The idea of trust provisioning. Relationships with folks in the consumer rights and privacy space. Work with folks already there to make sure the service would be respectful of those things. Also work with payments, data extration, information brokerage services.

What's the business-development strategy?

Then what is the business-development strategy? Figure out the biz relationship? Then write requirements around that. Is this an aggregation thing, a policy management thing, a super PayPal thing? Build requirements around that and get it funded.

What are details on content management?

Yesterday we spent most the time talking about technology and privacy. Two things this will advance, tech and privacy, easy of use, register once in trustworthy protected environment. In return for that you will get content that you want and content that you need and that will also be very very simple. We didn’t talk about the content part in the plenary –- only the breakout. A lot of technology goes into that too. Figure out way to explain how that is going to work in terms of getting people only the content they want.

  • Flesh out the idea that people are going to get something in terms of giving something.
  • What will they get back in terms of the information they are looking for?

IDEA: Write user personas

IDEA: Write six user personas, and write a use case for how each would use and benefit from the system.

Jeff VanderClute presents his three-levels synthesis concept -– technology that enables us to know who is who is what we focused on yesterday. That was the first layer. There is a second layer – an overlay of federated content providers. How do people transaction – yet a third thing.

Would like to see some portion of thought going into business models about how people transact.

IVP might want to focus on the overlay and the business models. 1 and 2 are big open questions but becoming clearer.

Very uncomfortable process – how do we preserve our livelihood?

The tactical maneuvers may not be advertising or subscriptions.

One thought – Maybe we get news industry together with InfoCard foundation, maybe Clickshare, maybe other technologies.


  • Greg Schermer: Key unknown – whether we can through some kind of a new transaction system, create offerings, from news industry content or elsewhere, that is an offering that consumers are going to be willing to pay for. A new Forrester report shows CAGR for content five years out less than 4% – not a pretty picture. Schermer has a strong gut feeling that people ***will*** be willing to pay something. He things the InfoCard and other technologies discussed are exciting and will facilitate. Would not rely on the possibility for the next several months that content can be sold. But believes in the beginning of the creation of the federation. We can take steps in the meantime. We can bring together and embrace members of the community who have resources and begin to integrate and experiment.

Pick a piece to start right now

  • Charles Andres: In startups the gun is to your head. You can’t get to where you want to be in one step. The successful startups begin with the kernel of an idea and build something –- a workplace to get to the next level. It begins to be the place where people come together about an idea or a set of principles. Vision: InfoValet is on the web and is some type of a portal. Even starting with something that simple; has to have commerce mechanism and something people will pay for. The first thing will be an experiment, an incubator for an audience like this one. Build a little test case using simple languages and with no cost. Example CMS Made Simple. Put something together, using students.

Key question: How is that portal architected? Once it exists you can have RSS feeds, etc., and build a community around the use of it.

The Associated Press' digital initiative

  • Greg Schermer: He was working with an AP group, there’s a digital initiative with The AP, the industry is shipping substantial stuff to The AP for tagging, etc. Called Digital Cooperative Initiative. You can download the ap from an iPhone. Content is being tagged at The AP and then is shipped back to newspapers. Data resides there; there’s an opportunity to experiment with a broadbased cross section of news.
  • Randy Picht (of The AP): Next step: Pick a topic and try to work through how it might work. Say the topic were NASCAR. The challenge -– how do you link the InfoCard aspect to the content aspect? For NASCAR, today the tech exists at The AP to potentially get all the stories written by papers around the country, put into a database, do a search by driver, and return those stories and photos to the newspaper today and the paper can then do with it want it wants. NASCAR's an easy subject –- a driver-based fan community. Not that hard to do that if every newspaper had a link on their site that talked about “get the info you want from NASCAR . . . don’t miss a story about your person.”

Picking a content niche: NASCAR example

  • UNIDENTIFIED: So then where does the privacy and demographic network come in. IDEA: Buying NASCAR stuff – could you gracefully link the two, that would be a nice experiment. So the challenge, the disconnect now –- newspapers have the content, but need to work through in a small way the privacy/demographic/selling issues.

But how dow we get to making money on this? Newspapers can offer the InfoValet and say by sign up to this, we will pay you micropayments, and in return you have to give us very deep demos you so we can give it to the advertising people. For example, 950 people who like to knit.

The change in our thinking: You have to have the offer to the consumer first -– you get pennies for clicking on an ad. You have the realtionship established where the consumer is used to (i.e., a local newspaper); transferring and keeping all their info in theInfoValet system. It becomes a little lockbox for them. Now you’ve got this account and you’ve build up $27, now you like knitting, here is a 52-cent resource you can buy. Generate revenue from advertisers.

  • Jane Stevens: If you choose a topic, choose one that newspapers are trying to hold on to. Concern: There is already a NASCAR site that satisfies. Same with knitting. If we as journalists are trying to maintain the civic space it might be useful to figure out how to capture that and so some approaches in that arena. Example: CNN laid off science team. Others are moving into niche spaces.

What she means by civic space: If we are recording how communities are surviving or becoming healthier, there is lots of ways to look at that at a community level. There’s economic health, educational health.

Questions about the demographic data=

  • Cynthia Typaldos: How do we get the deep demographic data? Is it deeper than what Facebook has?
  • UNIDENTIFIED: On Facebook you are not providing it with permission. And there are privacy issues. The idea is that you would ask people with questionnaires. It's the difference between inference-based demographics and volunteered demographics.
  • Bill Densmore: What about the question of people giving information vs. by inference.
  • Steve Chase: There’s a working model today in the jobs space. Consumers are willing to share a lot of information in a resume. You are trusting that info is going to be kept confidential or away from insurance companies. Employers see tremendous value in that. They use it to map the person to opportunities. As a job a seeker, there may be all kinds of opportunities for you to share that and be made aware of opportunities you wouldn’t be aware of. It’s a model that works on a lot of levels. How can we extend that to other areas?

Consumers are beginning to want value for contributing

  • Elizabeth Osder: On the consumer side what’s changed? Their expectations are shifting. She predicts that people will expect to get something back when they publish something (i.e., give up information). There is a lot of this in games. If people contribute content in games they “level up.” People on the business side who look at a social network see it as a CRM system. Things added are to add to the database and calculated in terms of capabilities for targeting. The best thinking on this comes from the controlled-circulation world. The expectation that "if you give you get," is only going to grow.
  • Mark Horvit: If you are starting to share information, now you start getting messages, “we see you like knitting,” it is going to start to have a Big Brother feel. “Wait a minute, you told me this was great privacy, great protection, and now all these people know what I’m doing, what I like, where I’m going.”
  • UNIDENTIFIED: Clarifies: All of these things would be opt in.
  • Martin Langeveld: He talks about models where you share information and get something back. Not sure about giving people pennies for looking at ads. But there needs to be a reward system of some sort. And that’s the key marketing challenge. If you are going to build a large user base –- we can start with early adopters, and they’ll join because they think it is interesting or have privacy concerns. But to get a critical mass is how do you get people excited. Has to be a non-threatening way to share some information and get something back.

Collecting it all in one place

  • Bonnie Obremski: Suggests a way to make this more attractive. What if it was featured on Google? Google and ilk are successful because they collect things in one place. If InfoValet was an application that’s attractive, that puts things in one place, that people can pay for and is right next to there other applications maybe that’s a way to go.

Ed Lambeth: Education is a central area of civic concern. There’s a developing consensus among foundations and community that we have to do more to attract teachers, administrators who have a passion for getting a high-school graudation rate that is respectable and serves the nation’s common good. It’s in our self interest to make education a high priority, also going to college. Also economics: We worry we are being eclipsed by other nations. It would make a statement about journalism and media that would resonate – covering what’s in the community in a meaningful way.

Mark Fuerst: What’s playing out is what was predicted in scenario plans 10 years ago. There is aggregation in one segment and increasing niche providers in another part. Because each one has the capacity to serve constuencies well. The middle-size companies suffer in the middle. Individual bloggers survive, some newspapers can’t, but the very large companies can. That may not be overcome.

If InfoValet is going to go into the this space, analyze the public profile. It will be hard for small newspapers to decide they are some kind of public service thing, when they formerly were sending you coupons and local news. The quality was not that high. You have to reposition your role in the infospace to make people believe you re going to take on this new role. There is a great argument for doing so.

There is a cause related aspect to getting the public involved. To make that work, you have to act differently.

Bill: Is there any way to map the public radio fundraising model to a commercial venture?

Mark: It goes back to Pacifica. He talks about the WGBH fundraiser who has trained people to be used to contributing for the service. To move newspapers into that area, it would require potentially a change in the profile of some of the key people in the publishing industry. He mentions Portland, Maine, where there has been a civic effort to take control of the daily paper.

Clyde Bentley: Community newspapers are profitable and growing. They have strong connections with their communities. He notes convening of NNA board – two sessions – the session of the community vs. metro papers were very different perspectives.

Bill: Current board chair talked about possibly NNA introducing an InfoValet sort of service to its members.

Mark Fuerst: If you want to get civic support on this, maybe we should focus on journalism, not newspapers. It is the function that is more likely to be supported conceptually. An industry has to going through reorg. People may not be as focused on saving their local newspaper as they are saving journalism.

Steve Mott: Three sources of value added at stake for journalism. The grid suggests ways you can leverage that. The three sources of value that are challenged today:

1) newspapers traditionally took content and associated that with meaning. Now the need is to tie concepts to meaning. 2) Clear asset that newspapers have is local intelligence and coverage. There is danger that Google sees that too and will go to commoditize that as fast as it can. In the election there was a deer-in-headlines reaction in some communities, rural vs. urban, etc. 3) MSM potentially has the ability to empower the consumer and their communities in the process. What welearned fro mbloggosphere – we got better info and better interpretations than you did from theMSM. Some of it distressingly, at the margin, was amazingly inaccurate – e.g., Barak the “Muslim”. Danger is that there will be push to legislate the notion of truth. You can get tremendous amounts of information from casting out to the community. “If I’d had that 30 years ago I’d still be in journalism.”

Regarding the chart: What is it we would build if we could and what would it do if we could build it? He ticks off the components on the chart. We have most of that stuff or will likely to be able to conceive if it from likely providers. But for No. 9, the “other” column, he doesn’t see the notion of where the content is generated and served. If we could build the utility -- it would be most valuable to the people who can’t build it themselves. If the NYTimes can do it themselves, they may not want to share it with the industry. But if there are 17,000 other smaller newspapers and outfits who might be happy to be associated with this as a utility.

There are some interesting companies out there. Cynthia: Look at e-Rewards, they do topical surveys you can opt into and they ask you your list of companies who will send offers to you. That’s happening today. It’s not rocket science. News industry is missing an opportunity. WebLoyalty is willing to do an upsell and build a system for anybody who is willing to do it. Think about providing bounties – why couldn’t MSM/news organizations do that as a justification for building this out.

If he were to put it to a VC: I don’t have any problem saying is it possible to build this out. It would be very possible to put this together near term – especially serving the smaller newspapers – that is your longterm means of differentiation, and use Jeff’s stuff to get to the concept and meaning. People have their own content they want to monetize. The elements are readily available if the non-big guys in the industry are willing to federate and do it.

Greg Schermer: There may be more opportunity for federation than you thing. As for the money not much left raound.

Does this work for millenials?

Emily: Jouranlists realize they are going to have to be free agents.

Charles says he has most the things covered.

Discussion again about InfoCard Foundation: 50% code base, 80% road map, 20% IVP open opportunity. They are talking about a Best Buy loyalty card. InfoCard would provide trusted, verified privacy mechanism. It represents existing plumbing in that area. You would have to consider what you would want to search on what users are doing.