- 1 FROM PAPER TO PERSONA:Managing privacy and information overload;sustaining journalism in an Attention Age
FROM PAPER TO PERSONA:
Managing privacy and information overload;
sustaining journalism in an Attention Age
In less than a decade, we have moved from a world of relative information scarcity -- access restricted by a variety of technical choke points, such as presses, to a world of such information abundance that the average user's challenge is not how to access information, or even how find it, but how to personalize, trust and make sense of it.
The Internet has shifted control of this raw information largely from publishers to consumers. As a result, the key challenge for news organizations in the 21st century is no longer just managing proprietary stories, but learning how to help the public knowledgeably manage our attention to and sharing of ubiquitous, disaggregated information -- and getting paid for doing so.
The Internet needs a new trust, identity and information commerce overlay to help individuals manage and share their identity, to be rewarded when they choose to do so, and to be able to easily pay for information they value.
“From Paper to Persona: Managing Privacy and Information Overload; Sustaining Journalism in an Attention Age,” explains how a new public-benefit collaboration could help stop the shrinking of American journalism.
Because of Internet technology, mass-market advertising and the news have come unglued. For the public, information is accessible, but not always trustworthy. Because it is abundant, it is less valuable than attention time given to it. In a new Attention Age, intrusive marketing technologies affect privacy values.
News organizations need new revenues to improve journalism’s service to participatory democracy. They might provide a new service to the public besides trying to sell stories. Managing the privacy and information preferences of individuals is one such opportunity.
Technology can allow publishers to become trusted stewards and curators of a reader’s attributes, information preferences and privacy. Then by delivering a personalized information service, publishers can make money referred these users to customized information from anywhere. To do so requires sharing users and content.
Several media and technology organizations have built proprietary or closed systems to distribute and get compensated for content they control. However successful these closed, siloed systems, outside them lies a larger universe of consumers seeking and using additional news and digital information. Connecting the silos, sharing users and content, could expand consumer choice and the digital information marketplace.
NEEDED INGREDIENT: The Information Trust Association
The basic Internet lacks a common solution enabling the convenient sharing of trust, identity and information commerce. It needs a world-focused Information Trust Association (ITA), guided by publishers, broadcasters, technology companies, account managers, trade groups and the public. It would develop a common playing field where consumer privacy is respected, business rules are transparent and the consumer can easily move among competing options.
“From Print to Persona” calls for a summit of the news industry to form a consortium of technology, telecommunications, entertainment, philanthropy and public-interest entities. The Information Trust Association consortium would then invoke needed, existing technology and open the digital-content marketplace. Because the ITA would have no investors and no profit motive, the ITA should be able then to referee the marketplace, and encourage competitors to participate.
An ITA can steward the trust, identity and information commerce marketplace that is open and multi-party. It will allow the sharing of users and value among news, advertising, publishing, entertainment, technology, public and philanthropic services. Publishers can experiment and cultivate customized, one-to-one relationships with users, providing them personalized information, and get paid for doing so. ITA can:
- Flexibly support continued operation of closed, proprietary, “siloed” systems by publishers and other enterprises with direct consumer account relationships.
- Support convenient, trustworthy, personalized services for individuals to find and transact for vital information. Value can be given or received, depending whether the individual needs the information or a marketer needs to reach the individual.
- Foster and transparently govern a new openly governed, four-party system for consumers to go outside their chosen “silo,” connecting and exchanging value with other content with identity and privacy under consumer control.
A public-benefit Information Trust Association could create and administer technical protocols and business rules for a shared user network that exchanges trust, identity and information commerce. (See, “Four-party model – Choice, control for consumers; opportunity for publishers,” Page 47; or http://wp.me/phs1Y-Z )
It would not itself produce content or have consumers as customers. It would foster technology that allows private networks to join, do business and compete. It would make and enforce marketplace rules respecting consumer privacy and choice.
An advantage of a neutral referee for a standardized “playing field” is that users could choose among competitive service providers. Service providers could exchange users without having to give them up, and sell each others’ content to each others’ users. Besides stewards or curators, these service providers might be called information brokers, agents or “information valets.”
“From Print to Persona” calls for a summit of the news industry to form a consortium of technology, telecommunications, entertainment, philanthropy and public-interest entities. The Information Trust Association consortium would then invoke needed, existing technology and open the digital-content marketplace.
Because the ITA would have no investors and no profit motive, the ITA should be able then to referee the marketplace, and encourage competitors to participate.
To create the agent network and the shared-user network, journalism stakeholders should lead formation of a public-benefit initiative. It would neutrally specify and referee a new marketplace for exchanging trust, identity and information commerce. The Information Trust Association (ITA) would create protocols and business rules that enable appropriate network collaboration and exchange – a level playing field. The ITA would be guided by publishers, broadcasters, telecom and technology companies, account managers, trade groups and the public.
It would foster a common playing field that respects consumer privacy, and facilitates transparent business rules, so content and users can be exchanged and shared, and the consumer can easily move among competing options. The ITA would make and enforce protocols governing users' "persona" -- personal information -- and allow consumers to barter that information for value across the same microaccounting, or “value exchange,” system. The ITA would guide -- not run -- this trust, identity and information commerce environment – sanctioning and enabling multiple competitive businesses, using common protocols.
The Information Trust Association would steward a marketplace that is open and multi-party. It would allow the sharing of users and value among news, advertising, publishing, entertainment, technology, public and philanthropic services. As “curation agents,” or stewards, publishers might cultivate customized, one-to-one relationships with users, helping maintain their privacy, providing them personalized information -- and getting paid for doing so.
Within the limits of existing antitrust law – the ITA would convene publishers, technologists, foundations, banks and the public in a system for exchanging small bits of content – a microaccounting system -- among multiple independent publishers. Public users would be able to choose from a plurality of information “agents” from which to open a one-ID, one-bill account that links to content from almost anywhere.
Five trends enabled by worldwide open networks characterize an Attention Age –- an economy which treats human attention as a scarce and valuable asset. They are transforming information businesses, the future of journalism, participatory democracy and communities:
- Mass-market advertising is giving way to targeted, permission-based, direct marketing. It is no longer sufficient to sustain journalism in print or on air. The two have come almost unglued.
- Abundant, accessible, unbundled information disrupts copyright and makes human attention a scarce resource. Curation is therefore valuable.
- The success of social networks shows there is business and civic value in network collaboration and sharing rather than hoarding or silos.
- We now consider our ‘personas’ – use-specific demographic profiles and interests --- to be valuable. We assert that value with the concept of “privacy.”
- Publishers are moving from gatekeepers to information valets – curators, stewards, agents and brokers offering personalized, customized access to knowledge.
The attention economy represents for journalism institutions slow death, or a chance to experiment and thrive beyond mass-market advertising. They must become better curators and agents, or “information valets,” for their users. Trust, identity and information value are core issues, affecting access, convenience, privacy and personalization.
The next newsroom will originate news, aggregate news from others and deliver this to individuals based on their persona – a unique combination of age, sex, race, income and education, their values, attitudes, interests, lifestyles and their physical location on earth.
Whether as a new entity or the initiative of an existing public-benefit organization, the ITA’s non-equity governance structure would recognize the interests of at least four parties: (1) end users, (2) rights-holders and publishers (including authors, artists, information providers and aggregators), (3) neutral authenticators, loggers and aggregators of transactions (the ITA or its contractors) and (4) information agents, or “infovalets” -- account managers (banks, telecommunications companies, publishers, billers etc.) whose primary allegiance is to the user. The initiative could:
- Vest greater choice, control and economic value of their privacy and personal information in the hands of individual citizens through voluntary standards.
- Foster and govern multisite user authentication and microaccounting services.
- Support web wide tracking and billing for “atomized” content.
- Simplify the open, competitive exchange of value among users and information suppliers.
- Guarantee one-account, one-ID, one-bill simplicity from any of multiple participating trust/identity/commerce providers (“InfoValets”).
- Contract or license with one or more for-profit entities, funded by investors, to operate elements of a shared-user network for privacy, trust, identity and information commerce.
- Assure the trustworthiness, and neutrality of enabling technologies.
- Operate transparently within existing antitrust law to provide a platform for competition, which benefits the public.
- Research, test and commission key technologies.
- Sanction protocols for sharing users and content.
(Author: Bill Densmore)