General, Journalism

Finding a kindred spirit out here in No Man’s Land – kinda makes your day. Here’s to you, Mr Wyman…

Every once in a while you stumble across a hero out here in the No Man’s Land and today I found one…

No, not Mr Jarvis. Not this time. The guy who added the pithy comment. Bill’s brother, Bob.

And for those of you who can’t be bothered to link through, here was Mr Wyman’s insight into the way this world is developing…

“There is an opportunity here…

“Networks decide which ads to display by combining knowledge of context (which site) with analysis of the content (what words, etc.). “Portal sales” focus only context.

“Today, any particular writer’s content may appear in many contexts — with or without authorization. In the old portal based ad economy, the writer would typically be directly compensated only for display in a “home” context.

“Now, imagine that the ad network could not only analyze the words that appear in the content but also determine authorship. This would give us a situation where content written by someone like Jeff Jarvis could be recognized by the ad network in any context.

“Appropriate ads would be selected based, in part, on authorship. The result is that Jarvis could be compensated with ad revenue independently of display context. (Note: Many mechanisms for establishing authorship are “obvious to one skilled in the art… They include: Explicit claims, fingerprints, signatures, etc.)

“The ability to compensate writers no matter in what context their content appears will make it easier to build the “newspapers” of the future that are pure journalism and editing shops.

“Such shops would produce content for syndication while not relying on their own websites as the sole source of revenue…

Keep reading that through again and I’m not wholly sure where to start. It’s that good.

I love the image of ‘editing shops’ – little, pre-industrial smithys forging sentences and stories out of freshly-gathered quotes; beating them into the kind of convenient shapes that can then be sold onto a higher portal…

We, of course, didn’t do ’shops’; we did wool, weavers and Halifax Piece Halls, but that sense of a return to a cottage media industry is still the same…

Spot on, Bob.

But the next little beauty to catch my eye was the line about picking up the ’signature’ of an individual author; a ‘finger-print’ – and for someone whose business model and whole philosophy is built around the journalistic value that comes with having ‘regular access to a near-private conversation’ - those thoughts are compelling reading.

Because being able to mark the fact, digitally, that you were the first to those quotes – or as near first as any of us can get when it all too often is no more than a near-private conversation with Darren Huckerby – will finally sort the men from the re-write and re-hash boys.

Deliver that distinction; you build value; with value you have something to sell and to syndicate.

How you work out that author’s ’signature’ is another matter, but we’ve talked about that before – in the fact that every quote should be treated as a prisoner and that journalists of the future may be well advised to build-in some telling ’signature’ to their work – an instantly recognisable brush-stroke.

Me? I’ve always gone for a rich and varied use of the hyphen – – make punctuation your ’signature’ mark.

How any ‘validating’ spider would spot it as such is not for me to ponder. Ideally, it’s for Mr Wyman to answer. But he’s today’s star.

Top man.


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