Tuesday, January 09, 2007

What will be the future of news?

Lots of people are blogging about Daylife with mixed interpretations. As news aggregation seems to be a somewhat hot topic, while on the other side I see lttle media convergence here, it might be worth taking a step back and re-thinking what an innovative news brokering service might be like. Let me start by a few observations.

  • News are fast (as the name already shows). Old news is an anachronism, so one requirement to deduce is that the brokerage should be fast, reaching the potentially interested reader without delay
  • Content creation has changed from a world of identified news creators / authors (working for newspapers, magazines, TV stations etc.) to almost anyone commenting on most anything nowadays. This raises the question of who will judge the quality of a news contribution. In the old days this was identifiable by a news brand (e. g. USA Today, or Washington Post, or BBC) - on the Web this is not clear at all.
  • With a multiplication of news contributions from all over the world (including their visibility) on almost anything you could think of, the need of filtering arises. The easiest way is to combine a news aggregation with search technology.
  • How to reach the masses. A lot of news services have some technology- or economy-oriented focus, as they are more likely to quickly gain a large readership that is likely to use Web sources as their first approach to news (instead of buying newspapers or magazines).
  • Expansion of news publishers from print into other forms. Most news publishers started early to also post a selection of the news articles that would appear in their publications in online form. In parallel, an expansion into online journalism was started so some news contribution only appear in online format. Last, the brand was also expanded into television, so many news contributors also produce their own magazines, focusing on specific topics that are of interest. So, we see a media diversification, but not necessariliy a media convergence.

Most of the news aggregators are into filtering, but not really into personalization. Thus, in the following, I would just like to list a few requirements that I consider important for the world of news in mixed formats.

  • Double localization. As a reader, I most likely have a relatively static location, i. e. where I live (and work). On the other hand, I may change my location (business or holiday trip). Thus, I not only have the need to be informed what is going on where I live, but also where I currently am.
  • Focus on specific topics require intelligent filtering, involving context. Topics that are of interest to me evolve in a mostly linear manner. New topics related to older ones that are of interested to me will be added, others that are of temporal interest only will fade away. One strong benefit that the online world can provide is that it puts news articles into personal context by considering what I have read in the past (related to topic, sources etc.)
  • Communities are important. If I know what other people I know are interested in, I am able to suggest them articles that I read. Likewise, recommendations from other readers connected to me can be valuable. Thus, adding a people networking service to news aggregation is valuable - if semantic indexing of relations is available (e. g. person X I am related to is known to give good pointers to sports-related news. Also, rating mechanisms might be valuable.
  • Aggregation of news for an overview on a topic. If I start to get interested in a topic, I might be interested in reading a number of more general articles first, before reading specialized articles later. Aggregation of articles sharing the same topic plus filtering and linear ordering, combined with an editorial selection of articles to be showcased, may be an additional value.
  • RSS for specific topics. While this is mostly related to a single site where headlines are aggregated, for some topics that are more specific, it might be worth getting informed (e. g. via email) in a kind of personal newsletter.

I am not sure if annotation is the right thing for news services. First, it is common to blog on topics that raise interest (as I am doing now), which involves the possibility to annotate them. Second, reading annotations for contributions is certainly interesting to see what others have to say, but it is time consuming. Thus, I am leaving out this issue for now and welcome any feedback on the ideas mentioned above.

1 comment:

john said...

Digital editions of the print publication will increase the circulation as the online users are increasing rapidly. Every publisher should have digital editions for their print versions. I found the website recently www.pressmart.net which proving the e-editions for the print publications through online, RSS syndication, pod casting, etc. As a user I got a wonderful experience and I would recommend every publisher to utilize these kinds of services.