Traditional Vs. Non-Traditional Journalism

Chris Anderson and Will Hearst talking shop in May of 2006:

Publisher, Will Hearst, on the evolution of journalism:

[..] In the era of 20 years ago, there was a notion of a professional journalist — I’m not saying let’s race back to that era — what I’m saying is that notion is utterly gone. And what we are seeing as so-called professional journalism is really freelance material, shot in Baghdad, shipped to New York, somebody voice-overs it and that’s supposed to be “live news.”

And we’re covering Israel out of London and we’re covering Nairobi out of Tokyo, you know, we’re kidding ourselves. So in a way, I think the cure is not to go backwards, but to go forwards and to label that stuff and get more of that material and do away with this pseudo-professional news, which it really isn’t.

I mean if we’re gonna have “citizen journalism,” then let’s have it. […]

I completely appreciate the sentiment, but Will Hearst knows better than anybody that isn’t going to occur through the existing mainstream channels.

Mainstream news outlets — television and newspaper alike — are busy attempting to figure out how to keep the best parts of their old revenue model in place while leveraging the independent voices of the information age.

While the conglomerates look for new ways to count the same beans, innovative distribution models with decentralized reporting have already taken hold.

This shouldn’t be the cornerstone of the conversation, though. Even without an organized effort to distribute decentralized reporting, there are already 30 million active blogs in play around the world.

The news is becoming hyper-local and hyper-topical without the steady hand of industry drivers to guide it; traditional journalism is going the way of the stock broker.

Now traditional ethics? Well, that’s another story entirely

The Bottom Line Of CrowdSourcing

crowdsourcing
Wired News
Gannett to Crowdsource News
By Jeff Howe

[…] According to internal documents provided to Wired News and interviews with key executives, Gannett, the publisher of USA Today as well as 90 other American daily newspapers, will begin crowdsourcing many of its newsgathering functions. Starting Friday, Gannett newsrooms were rechristened “information centers,” and instead of being organized into separate metro, state or sports departments, staff will now work within one of seven desks with names like “data,” “digital” and “community conversation.”

The initiative emphasizes four goals: Prioritize local news over national news; publish more user-generated content; become 24-7 news operations, in which the newspapers do less and the websites do much more; and finally, use crowdsourcing methods to put readers to work as watchdogs, whistle-blowers and researchers in large, investigative features.

“This is a huge restructuring for us,” said Michael Maness, the VP for strategic planning of news and one of the chief architects of the project. According to an e-mail sent Thursday to Gannett news staff by CEO Craig Dubow, the restructuring has been tested in 11 locations throughout the United States, but will be in place throughout all of Gannett’s newspapers by May. “Implementing the (Information) Center quickly is essential. Our industry is changing in ways that create great opportunity for Gannett.”

[…]

Well, it looks like Jay Rosen‘s NewAssignment.net isn’t as much R&D as he and many others have thought.

Sure, Jay will have tons more room to explore the creation of a collaborative news model with value for the reader, the participants and the domain alike, but with this news from Gannett, it’s obvious that the owners of these newspapers are finally getting that change is an eventuality.

My question: Is their approach to CrowdSourcing as pure as Jay’s?

As Jay tells it, NewAssignment will evolve over time (without the pressures of a bottom line, as it’s root is based in academia), discovering and iterating different methods of collaboration with citizens who are willing to put time and effort into a story because it absolutely concerns them from either a personal or community perspective.

No matter how much Gannett, the organization, talks that talk, their institutional and primary shareholders will not allow them to walk that exact walk. This is not an egalitarian shift in operating procedures; this is a shift based purely on industry competition and the potential loss of capital.

The motivations of editors and journalists within these organizations align much more with the drivers behind NewAssignment, but the bottom line for their careers is that they are at the mercy of the business drivers of the Gannetts of the world. So when an organization decides to run in this direction, I can only imagine the types of conversations to be found at the water-cooler.

The Future Of CrowdSourcing

My net takeaway of this announcement from Gannett is positive, but only in as much as their organizational methodology doesn’t attempt to leverage the free output of people as a mechanism for reaching a bottom-line. For if people’s creativity, perspectives and thesis’ are tapped into—beyond the aforementioned proactive participation of watchdogging, whistle-blowing and researching—then we’re heading down a path that isn’t progressive; it’s a reversion to the underpinnings of the industrial revolution and the techniques of mass production, only now within the information age.

This isn’t an easy subject to take a position on because technology isn’t a static delivery platform. Take the search industry as an example.

When a search engine (corporation) indexes billions of web pages (other people’s work) and returns search results with advertising affixed, that search engine is essentially CrowdSourcing to establish their bottom-line. Now, because the vast majority of people and organizations whose web sites, blogs, services, applications, etc. receive a huge benefit of consistent exposure from such an arrangement, the search industry is considered to be a benefit rather than exploitation.

But a particular news organization does not fall into the same sphere as a search engine.

A search engine indexes everything, from the base domain to the most granular content found within. If/when news organizations venture beyond working the wisdom of the crowd in a participatory fashion, and begin to algorithmically tap into the meta-data of external amateur output—whether it be blog posts, video, photography, podcasts, etc.—the fine line between collaboration and exploitation will be crossed in order to impact the bottom-line.

Other people, afar and local, are thinking about these issues as well:

  • Chris Messina is a tireless advocate for community and open-source, so his perspective on CrowdSourcing goes even deeper into the fundamental drivers of our capitalistic society. This interview is an interesting conversation along these lines.
  • Local blogger, The Shu, posted his meandering thoughts along the lines of this very same issue early last year—particular to the announcement that the Greensboro News & Record planned on creating a “Town Square” with the participation of local bloggers—and was painted by journalists and many local bloggers in the comment thread as being everything but a conspiracy theorist.

In numerous circles, the term information age is considered synonymous with the term information revolution, but that association is tenuous at best in my mind.

Are we going to let the revolutionary aspects of technology explicitly serve the capital masters of the world, turning our personal expertise, opinions and creativity into the equivalent of a virtual assembly line of mass media production? I truly hope not.

NBC: Kinda, Sorta, Somewhat Getting Web 2.0

nbc

Back in February, NBC made a completely bonehead business move by making YouTube take down the hugely popular video short Lazy Sunday. My instant response was to fire off a salvo at NBC for being old media ogres (NBC: We Get Web 2.0… Sike!) and not working within the limitless parameters of the web to strike a business deal that suits their needs to protect their copyright, while allowing us to continue to enjoy their content when we want and how we want.

Well, today NBC announced that it’s embracing a few of the ideas I previously lobbed into play:

[…] “Under the deal, YouTube will create a separate channel for NBC video, so that visitors can easily pull up the half-dozen or more items that NBC plans to offer at any given time. It will be similar to channels that other companies, filmmakers and everyday users create. […] NBC and YouTube officials acknowledged the possibility that fans will reject the clips if they appear simply as promotions, but YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley said fans would likely embrace the video if it is compelling and not available anywhere else.” […]

Promotional video is somewhat of a start — I suppose you can’t expect major change from a major television network without them testing the water first. Give the experiment a few months; if uptake begins across numerous types of unbundled content, I’m sure they’ll be banging on YouTube’s door, attempting more creative ways to “let” people upload their content.

Affecting The Interface

In terms of the user experience, I only ask one thing of YouTube: please refrain from creating a pulldown of “channels” on your interface.

Asking people to assign ripped video to a “media channel” in the upload process makes sense:

  • It alerts you (YouTube) to content that needs to be assigned a “shared monetization flag” and
  • It automatically assigns network metadata to the video object to help people finding content they desire

Balancing the two-way participation of a user base with the business opportunities of old media is a difficult conversation to manage and execute, for if you transform your main interface too far towards the navigation of paid-for, primary channels, the entire participatory, community vibe will begin to deteriorate.

Remember, your brand is YouTube.

Should Link Love Pay The Rent?

Citizen media is an authentic media.

The amateur (Etymology: French, from Latin amator lover, from amare to love) doesn’t create out of a responsibility to a deadline or a paycheck; the amateur creates out of a love for the process, the output, the feedback, the very notion of creativity itself. And in this new world of interconnectivity, the availibility of our tangibly crafted desires and dreams has increased exponentially.

We are connected.

connected
photo by Mexicanwave

And entrepreneurs are taking notice.

We’re quickly moving towards a period where a good chunk of the web will be explicitly designed (or re-designed) to take advantage of such authentic creativity. The old 1.0 slogan “Content is king” didn’t die off—it simply redefined itself through the lens of the passionate, authentic amateur.

YouTube and flickr have captured the very essence of what makes video and photography communities, respectively, thrive.

  • Instantaneous feedback and discourse
  • The ability to shelve favorites
  • Discovery of new objects based on meshed interests with other community members
  • Being able to add friends and join/start groups to extend the conversation

Between the commitment to upload massive amounts of media and the amount of time and effort one invests participating in these communities, the “throwaway” gap that previously existed for most web services (think about web analytic services or even a blogging platform) has practically disappeared. These particular domains aren’t ripe for member disengagement anymore based on a single bad experience, as they’ve progressed to becoming a part of our psyche, partially defining us through the connections our authentic media creates with others and vice-versa.

Though, as much as I believe in the potential of interconnected authentic media to inform, inspire, entertain and generate new communities, I equally believe that our media should not be leveraged from afar to pay someone else’s bills without explicit financial returns from the ecosystem. So if this perspective became a reality, would it cause authentic media to cease being authentic? Is this perspective just an excuse for a low entry point into the mainstream media ecosystem? I don’t think so.

From Kevin Kelly and The New York Times, Scan This Book:

[…] We see this effect most clearly in science. Science is on a long-term campaign to bring all knowledge in the world into one vast, interconnected, footnoted, peer-reviewed web of facts. Independent facts, even those that make sense in their own world, are of little value to science. (The pseudo- and parasciences are nothing less, in fact, than small pools of knowledge that are not connected to the large network of science.) In this way, every new observation or bit of data brought into the web of science enhances the value of all other data points. In science, there is a natural duty to make what is known searchable. No one argues that scientists should be paid when someone finds or duplicates their results. Instead, we have devised other ways to compensate them for their vital work. They are rewarded for the degree that their work is cited, shared, linked and connected in their publications, which they do not own. They are financed with extremely short-term (20-year) patent monopolies for their ideas, short enough to truly inspire them to invent more, sooner. To a large degree, they make their living by giving away copies of their intellectual property in one fashion or another. […]

Scientists “are rewarded for the degree that their work is cited, shared, linked and connected in their publications, which they do not own.” If we were to view authentic media creations as nodes of input, for which entrepreneurs can generate beyond-hyperlink synapses of interconnectivity, the difference between the goals of science and the intrinsic behavior of the web would be rather slim.

This is where the conversation shifts to the concerns of the elite to the desire of the commons.

What side of the aisle do you sit?

UPDATE: Can we do this together?

The News Is Getting Interesting

globalvoices

When Technorati began presenting blogs on articles pages of Newsweek and WaPo, the blogosphere moved one step closer to credibility. This move by Reuters pushes blogging—specifically bridge blogging—into a whole new stratosphere.

Reuters partners in comment blog
Mark Sweney

Reuters has formed a partnership with an international network of bloggers to provide public comment alongside its own news coverage.

The alliance has been struck with Global Voices Online, an international network of bloggers co-ordinated through Harvard University, that will see blog content used when there are large general interest events such as elections.

“We need to open our website to other voices,” said Dean Wright, Reuters’ global managing editor for consumer services. “There are a lot of conversations going on around news these days and we want to tap into that.”

The blog content will be displayed in two ways—either as clearly labelled posts within the company’s own websites, or as a link to a separate website placed at the end of a Reuters story offering readers a broader perspective.

The material will be made available through Reuters.com and Reuters.co.uk.

Global Voices Online will be taking part in the forthcoming London-based We Media event forum that will examine trust in media and citizen journalism.

Congratulations, Ethan.

SXSW2006 Day Five: Democratization of the Moving Image

rocketboom
Andrew Baron and Amanda Congdon are Rocketboom.

We are in an interesting time, as production tools for mass communication are dirt cheap and accessible.

Rocketboom:

An interesting intersection of blogging, TV over IP, radical advertising, etc. […] The art of the possible.

  • Personal filters (media, people they meet, events, etc.) – always on the lookout for more information.
  • Design – “One of the most important aspects of Rocketboom is… interface design; making the interface comfortable and easy to use.” The simplicity of the interface equals the experience for all viewers/users.
  • Global – “Audience is scattered all around the world. Correspondants are in Kenya, Prague, all over the States.” Very interested in global stories. Rocketboom.jp just launched to communicate from Japan, presenting video stories which isn’t language-centric.
  • Time – “Time is power.” Whoever has information before another will have a huge advantage. Large organizations cannot be agile enough to move fast. Rocketboom is daily, so it becomes habit-forming. “Simple concepts, but so important to us and our success. It’s worth considering them in-depth.”
  • Consequence – Unlike other business models built on one, two year business plans, Rocketboom deals with consequences in the moment. They’re able to shift their approaches in the moment to take advantage of emerging opportunities. Being open to change is huge.
  • Interactive – 25% of Rocketboom stories are user-generated. Then there are comments, emails with viewers, etc. They feel very strongly about the communities this interaction with viewers build. This medium is interactive, so even though a user is digesting video, it’s not TV.

The show is already available on cell phones (thanks to a fan hack), TiVo viewers, PSP and iTunes.

SXSW2006 Day 4: Cluetrain: Seven Years Later

docsearls
Doc Searls

On marketing consulting:

There’s money to be made in prolonging the problem.

On the title:

The cluetrain stopped there (Silicon Valley) four times a day, but never made a delivery.

How the book came after the site received a buzz:

The book deal got worked out based on how much consulting money wey’d have to give up.

Companies that get it:

  • Dresdner Kleiner Wasserstein; the CIO completely bought into Cluetrain through Rageboy.
  • Microsoft is a huge blogging community.
  • Sun microsystems is trying to retain people, so they encourage blogging as well.

On the future of 2.0 and women in the mix:

There’s going to be a huge explosion of indie film and video production… the larger trend is independence… and women are best served to manage these communities.

heatherarmstrong
Heather Armstrong

Heather stumbled into the marketing department of Nikon. She posts images and labels them with, “Shot by a Nikon XXX” and her audience is now buying the camera by the thousands. The problem? She’s having issues with the camera and Nikon isn’t paying her. So there’s guilt and then there’s justifiable bitterness.

When will companies get it?:

Cluetrain will be realized when BestBuy goes out of business.

Brian Clark

On the web:

Less than entranced of the web as human-computer interaction (as oppossed to cd-rom).

On productivity:

Cluetrain predicts the idea that we can work smarter than that.

On the future of business models:

Ad agencies are starting to build around groups of freelancers, thereby reducing traditional organization, and increasing collaboration.

Q&A

Before getting into the question of how do we empower individuals, I told Heather that I’ve been dooced twice; once when blogs were just web sites, and once within the thriving blogosphere. She asked me, “didn’t you listen to me?” and I laughed it off with a no, but the truth is strange. I didn’t get dooced twice for shitting on my boss or coworkers, I got dooced for openly talking about how smart we were being within our company(s) at the time. Yes, I got dooced for having pride in our work and sharing it. Nothing secretive or clandestine, just for daring to speak to people and not go through “proper” channels. That’s a big difference.

As for empowering bloggers to a point of sustainability, I understand Doc’s response. Blogs will provide monetary returns via the relationships and opportunities they create—through the development of respected, personal perspectives and grass roots authenticity (sorry for paraphrasing, but this is a post-lunch wrap-up). That’s all good, but my question (which I didn’t quite get out) was more about how do we empower the voices around the US and the world who might be online, but are scraping to get by and don’t (or can’t) see the benefit of sharing their voice.

I feel reaching a critical mass of participation is important; not because I necessarily want to experience *everyone’s* POV, but because the chance that you or I might discover these voices is an extremely powerful, politically empowering concept, as down the road, a yet to be designed interface will make discovering such varient perpsectives within a huge ecosystem of information rather simple. So to get a critical mass, a potential monetary incentive might become the tipping point for participation.

So my original question remains; how can we develop implicit hooks between bloggers and businesses? Maybe it’s not about that direct hook either; maybe it’s about creating an algorithm service which can sense when a blog reaches:

  • a readership tipping point
  • a query match tipping point (enough people land on x site because they were looking for y)
  • a tagging tipping point (enough posts fill the context of a particular topic that matches a business’s controlled vocabulary of value keywords [matching services, inventory, etc.])
  • a local readership tipping point (based on a radius from the “home” of the blogger)

This way, community based small businesses can be alerted to potential local blog advertising possibilities and participate with smaller, more targeted payouts to audiences directly engaged within the context of their business model. Instead of creating hooks directly between domains, instead, we’d be creating hooks between people.

Newsvine: The Wisdom Of The Crowd

The reviews are in: The people are in the drivers seat.

Newspapers are already hemoraging readership, as the web has created an extremely rich bazaar, allowing us to shop for unbundled content at every turn, while unbundled advertising models begin to sprout up to support this evolution. Well, get ready for the online replicas of the print world to begin to sweat even more. Following on the heals of the mass appeal of social wisdom sites such as slashdot and digg comes a revolutionary hybrid of mainstream media, citizen journalism and participatory editing: Newsvine.

newsvine

Taking the aggregation features of a Yahoo! News, the collaborative properties of a digg and the citizen media aspects of blogging, Newsvine is staged to completely redefine the news. The common man now has stake in the game.

Old School

Top/down delivery of content, beginning with organized knowledge, is a modern construct. Since the advent of television, these organized silos of knowledge have been optimized over the years for advertising to take advantage of explicit media buys—matching business audience demographics, psychographics and geographics to channeled, programed, bundled content. Great for advertisers and the networks/publications, lousy for the “consumer,” as we end up consuming more messaging and less news or interests which match *our* needs and desires.

These constructed, mechanical relationships define false edges of our culture, which in turn raises the value proposition of media and news organizations simply by standardizing on such lexicon. This standardization of topical interests enables a succinct inventory of sales and stories, broadcast on television news and pumped through newspapers, serving as the ying to the entertainment media’s yang.

Is it easier to entertain and pacify a child within a theme park or the natural environment of a forest?

Somewhere between the crafted, paced, 4/4 movement of greased industry palms rubbing against one another, lies our percept of reality, consistently bombarded by messaging. While we struggle with this understanding of our surroundings, back in the news room, editors—the guardians of this construct—find themselves under the thumb of the financial steerings and pressures of this propped reality. Their indoctrinated intuition places constraints on the types of stories generated, the depth of coverage, even the language a writer chooses to employ.

The innovators and early adopters of the web aren’t down with that noise.

New School

Bottom/up constructs, enabled by the personal publishing revolution, delivered with flexible subscription technology such as RSS, have empowered individuals to publish cheaply within our own crafted domains.

  • RSS allows us to digest information passively (in a centralized location), instead of actively (surfing the decentalized web), which greatly increases our level of input and conversely, fine tunes our understanding of the world, which is represented by our output (blogging, conversations, actions, etc.)
  • Those of us who publish our own information objects, apply meta-data to increase the potential of findability, both now and in future interfaces
  • Many of us participate with folksonomies, helping make our POV of all information semantically rich and contextual to our neighbors interests, our future grandchildern’s recollections of us, even the desires of a family on the other side of the planet
  • We create multimedia objects to compete with elite vehicles of capital, and fuel them through the same tactical approaches

This participatory environment is one aspect of the Web 2.0 phrase that gets tossed about. It’s enabling us humans to share our creative impulses with others, helping to constantly define and then redefine the world around us through our personal representations of both explicit and implicit lexicon.

This is an open paradigm, a transparent journey, based in accelerated trust and faith in one another.

So when these two worlds meet — old school vs. new school or modernism vs. post-modernism or proprietary vs. open source — the truth of hierarchy and the truth of individual POV’s collide. Guess what remains?

A truthier truth.

Newsvine has taken a position of mixing mainstream feeds with user submitted, tagged and collaboratively greenlit content. Even more revolutionary, they’re mixing the standardized embedded lexicon of our culture—topical categories—with the co-occurance generated wisdom of the people creating relevant content living within such silos:

newsvine-tags

The secondary navigation points are all dynamic, altering over time as the co-occurance of tagged objects within a topical category shifts. This is how I think—how I search, discover, build my own archive in this blog—so in and of itself, the concept doesn’t blow me away. What does blow me away is that by simply placing this paradigm next to, say, The New York Times, Yahoo! News, my pseudo-innovative hometown Greensboro News & Record and a blog aggregator like Greensboro101, none of these domains can compete if Newsvine gains a participatory, critical mass audience.

Newsvine provides AP feeds (like a Yahoo! News), yet allows anyone to seed *any* story, from *any* site (like digging or del.icio.us tagging). Let me try to clearly paint how disruptive of a strategy this is.

  • With only the AP feed, Newsvine could potentially evolve to become a successful News aggregator
  • The addition of the digg and del.icio.us features completely change the game. Newsvine now becomes populated by the very content from the news sites (New York Times, News & Record, etc.) that it’s competing against for advertising
  • The better the content, say, a New York Times produces, the more likely it’ll end up in Newsvine, but with more context (meta-data) and a thriving, participatory readership.
  • Content will begin to be valued differently at a New York Times — as prices might become reduced at the domain, while new, shared models will be created at sites like Newsvine. Good for the Times, as they have a new market for revenue, but it will effect their organizational structure. The big advantage for Newsvine: they don’t have to completely readjust due to their recent entry into the arena and their nimble stature (compared to large news organizations)
  • Community blog aggregators could possibly fall to the wayside, simply due to the fact that people can seed their own local posts, as well as their neighbors, and leverage unbundled advertising services. The very concept of “community” will be redefined on much more granular levels, moving towards a flickr existence, as explicit tags begin to define groups of interest

The Final Touch

Mike Davidson obviously knows what he has here; not only an opportunity to provide a rich, participatory environment for the redefinition of what news means to us as a collective, a community and as individuals, but this service could very well challenge the embedded constructs of editorialized media.

In the final analysis, if Newswire succeeds, it’ll be because of the participatory nature of people. If Davidson wants to make his mark on this planet, he’ll devise a revenue model to incentivize swarms of citizen editors to contribute to the domain—editors removed from the burden and balancing act of management and politics, reduced simply to individuals focused on making our communities that much more aware, educated and inclusive.

If an incentive program can be devised along these lines—some type of a micro-payment structure based on Karma points and click-throughs for both editors *and* authors—he’ll be responsible for creating the Mechanical Turk of the news world. That could change the news media as we know it forever.

Reputable journalists could become more enabled by freelance opportunities, as news organizations would need to drastically reduce their overhead and change their business models because advertising money wouldn’t be channeled into one out of six corporate funnels. Then maybe the people will get the issues covered the way they need to be covered; maybe then we’ll uncover opportunities to 2.0 the hell out of government.

NBC: We Get Web 2.0… Sike!

SNL_Digital_Short_Lazy_Sunday

Remember the SNL clip, “Lazy Sunday,” where two dudes from the Long Island comedy troop Lonely Island hit the streets and blew up a hip-hop trip to go see The Chronicle of Narnia? I posted about it two months ago with a link to the youtube.com hosted clip, and literally thanked NBC and SNL for finding local talent and participating in the share and share alike culture of Web 2.0. Apparently, NBC really doesn’t get it.

The New York Times
A Video Clip Goes Viral, and a TV Network Wants to Control It

When a video clip goes “viral,” spreading across the Web at lightning speed, it can help rocket its creators to stardom. Alas, the clip can also generate work for corporate lawyers.

As anyone with an Internet connection and a love of cupcakes can tell you, “Lazy Sunday” is a tongue-in-cheek rap video starring Chris Parnell and Andy Samberg of “Saturday Night Live.” NBC first broadcast the video, a two-and-a-half-minute paean to New York’s Magnolia Bakery, Google Maps and C. S. Lewis, on Dec. 17.

Fans immediately began putting copies of the video online. On one free video-sharing site, YouTube (www.youtube.com), it was watched a total of five million times. NBC soon made the video available as a free download from the Apple iTunes Music Store.

Julie Supan, senior director of marketing for YouTube, said she contacted NBC Universal about working out a deal to feature NBC clips, including “Lazy Sunday,” on the site. NBC Universal responded early this month with a notice asking YouTube to remove about 500 clips of NBC material from its site or face legal action under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. YouTube complied last week. “Lazy Sunday” is still available for free viewing on NBC’s Web site, and costs $1.99 on iTunes.

Julie Summersgill, a spokeswoman for NBC Universal, said the company meant no ill will toward fan sites but wanted to protect its copyrights. “We’re taking a long and careful look at how to protect our content,” she said.

YouTube and others in the new wave of video-sharing sites have so far managed to avoid major legal problems even though they often carry copyrighted material without permission.

“This is an example of the copyright troubles that are waiting for YouTube, Google Video and all the other video hosting services that rely on user-posted content,” said Fred von Lohmann, a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group.

Several online commentators noted that NBC’s response to YouTube, while legally justified, may have been short-sighted. The online popularity of “Lazy Sunday” has been credited with reviving interest in “Saturday Night Live” at a time when it is in need of some buzz.

Ms. Supan said VH1 and other television and movie producers were increasingly putting their own clips, trailers and music videos on YouTube in hopes of jump-starting their own viral phenomena.

“We got e-mails from college students, and a lot of them said it’s the ‘Lazy Sunday’ clip that turned them on to potentially watching ‘S.N.L.’ again,” she said.

Exactly. I hadn’t watched SNL in years and that skit actually brought my eyeballs back to NBC. How much profit is enough? Don’t they realize that the viewers who watched the skit the night it aired represented the cut-off point of ROI before the blogosphere, Kazaa, etc. started passing it around? For the last two months, they’ve received extra eyeballs because of the video-sharing, which has put money in their pockets directly or indirectly. This is the thanks we get?

Dumb… like a stump. Instead of busting out the lawyers, why not take these lemons and make some lemonade. Here’s an idea for all of you suits in NBC, CBS, ABC, etc. land:

  • Work out a deal with YouTube, Google and whomever else so that you receive a fair cut of the ad revenue from any page with your copyrighted content being displayed
  • In turn, YouTube, Google, etc. can evolve their upload interfaces to include a “channel” option
  • If I upload something taken from, say, NBC, I simply choose “NBC” in a pulldown menu and upload the video
  • Once verified as an NBC property, post-upload, the *additional revenue* of click-through ads goes straight into NBC’s pocket

Multiply this scenario by the potential number of unbundled clips, contributing users and video services over a continuum of expanding users and I think you just might be able to afford that ski trip to Aspen this year.

Asshats.

UPDATE: A Boing Boing reader tells the following story:

YouTube user “aretired” posted a clip from Thursday’s CBS Evening News showcasing Jason McElwain, the autistic highschool basketball player who scored 6-3 pointers in the final four minutes of the game. The video clip shot up to #15 in alltime viewings on YouTube with 1.5 million hits in just three days—then, it was suddenly and inexplicably pulled.

User “aretired” reposted the clip and was again pulled within a day, still no explanations.

CBS sent DMCA complaints for not just that McElwain clip, but all 11 of the user’s other CBS-related clips that had up till now gone fairly unnoticed, by anyone. And, despite their huffing and puffing and pulling over a 2-minute feel-good piece of the year, you can still catch your fill of Oprah, Letterman, Degeneres, Dr. Phil and other CBS content at YouTube.

Do they want us to hate them?

Writing 2.0: On Being Transparent

transparency

We who blog, incessantly rave about the progressive attributes of transparency. It’s not a beckon call that we own; political activists have been screaming for transparency in government since, well, forever. Transparency provides credibility. The truth shall set you free. You pick the cliche, they’re all spot on.

Well, in this Web 2.0 world that we live in, transparency is beginning to take root in interesting ways. Take the age old process of writing non-fiction; I’m starting to see authors not only openly talking about their books in gestation, but reaching out to Joe Q. Public for participation in the writing process itself.

Since April of last year, Chris Anderson has been publicly blogging his thoughts about The Long Tail, the term he coined proper in 2004. His blog tagline describes his transparent approach as, “A public diary on the way to a book.” One of his recent posts, Death of the Blockbuster, is a perfect example of the transparent methodology I’m talking about:

I’ve been collecting data on just how bad it’s getting in the music industry, and this useful list of the 100 all-time bestselling albums offered another lens on the meltdown. I looked up the release dates of each and grouped them in half-decade bins. The data speaks for itself:

Chris Anderson graph

If you want to do your own analysis, the underlying data is in this spreadsheet.

Anderson engages with his audience, invites them to participate in his thesis and provides the underlying data behind his perspective. The above post has generated a link from USA Today, numerous comments and two follow-up posts that further this particular aspect of Anderson’s thesis. Aside from his trademarked phrase, “The Long Tail,” the entire blog is registered under a Creative Commons license, a copyright permission which allows anyone to replicate his content (as I did above), as well as to use his research finding for their own use (as long as they give proper attribution to Chris wherever they publish).

Share and share alike and build a better world.

This is how open, collaborative, iterative development works. Chris is writing a book, one which he’ll profit from, but his open-thinking and shared research and knowledge will undoubtedly assist others in their ventures, impacting industry in various degrees.

everything

David Weinberger, who is knee-deep in the process of writing his latest book, “Everything is Miscellaneous,” employs a similar approach to writing.

Joho the Blog isn’t a 100% topical slave to the complexities of data, information and knowledge (I rather enjoy his political and cultural posts), but when David does dive in, you can sense where his head is in the writing process. With some posts, he’ll directly reach out for assistance and perspective, while other posts are less direct with explicit ties, but steeped in organizational memes. David blogged before he took on his latest book, so he understands the value of releasing ideas out into the ether. Hell, he co-wrote the book on it.

Ideas out, ideas in. Links out, links in.

Now, this approach is far from widespread, as the majority of books still hit “the shelf” with guarded marketing plans as the only touchpoint into the potential reader community. Authorship equates with authority in many circles — circles which seem to care more about ownership of a thesis, rather than the conversation surrounding the subject matter and the avenues newfound knowledge takes once digested. But since the shelves themselves are changing and mainstream journalists and authors are beginning to blog themselves, this just might catch on and become SOP.

What would be the ramifications of such transparent collaboration beyond the target of binding particular pages?

David hosted an interesting thread about hyperlinks subverting hierarchies a few weeks back where the conversation shifted between the lines of power, organization and connections between people. Following that premise within the context of this post, imagine if authors who write life and death non-fiction (say, covering the war in Iraq) opened up to allow for community participation… Could the impact be greater than the explosion of citizen media alone?

Methinks so.