links for 2009-04-21

  • "Newspapers should spend less time trying to disempower the middleman known as Google, and more time trying to think of ways to add value to what they do, and building relationships around their content that Google can’t possibly compete with. In reality, Google is the single biggest source of marketing for their content — a service it provides for nothing. The biggest problem with Carr’s post is that it is only going to encourage the “fight Google” mentality that has caused so much distraction in the industry already."
  • "For much of the first decade of the Web's existence, we were told that the Web, by efficiently connecting buyer and seller, or provider and user, would destroy middlemen. Middlemen were friction, and the Web was a friction-removing machine.

    "We were misinformed. The Web didn't kill mediators. It made them stronger. The way a company makes big money on the Web is by skimming little bits of money off a huge number of transactions, with each click counting as a transaction. (Think trillions of transactions.) The reality of the web is hypermediation, and Google, with its search and search-ad monopolies, is the king of the hypermediators.

    "Which brings us to everybody's favorite business: the news. Newspapers, or news syndicators like the Associated Press, bemoan the power of the middlemen, or aggregators, to get between them and their readers. They particularly bemoan the power of Google."

  • "Nick Carr paints Google as a conventional middleman — an extractor of existing value. But Google, with its efficient, targeted text-link advertising, has actually added value to pages that previously could not be valued at all. Sure, media companies wish they’d done that themselves — I wish I’d done it, too. Now that Google has done so, they have a right to their chagrin; but they don’t have a right to a cut.

    "This is when the Google Tax crowd cries, “But Google News is stealing our headlines!” Let’s put aside the fair-use argument for a minute and also defer the “incoming links have their own value” point. Even if the “Google News is theft” people were right, they are fighting over (relative)crumbs. News people who focus their ire on Google often choose to eye the company’s vast profits, mostly earned from its enormous search traffic, and then — in a rhetorical dodge that is either ignorant or disingenuous — pretend that most of those profits are earned from Google News."

  • Etan Horowitz reports on a BarCamp Orlando session he ran to brainstorm online revenue models for newspapers.
  • Amazon's list of free content for Kindle. If "public" is in publisher's name, it won't appear here though.
  • Today is submission deadline: "We're seeking writers who present accurate information about sexual health and sexual diversity, who resist the assumption that sex-negative religious minorities represent the rest of the country's values, and who give news events involving sexual subcultures enough context and background that their readers can get the whole picture. (View the complete awards criteria.) The Sexies differ from most journalism awards in that readers can also submit articles. Have you read something that you felt was a breath of fresh air? Submit it."
  • Good example of a mainstream news org that's not afraid to link out from the body of its stories — or of referring to investigative journalism done by a blogger.
  • "That study compared a print newspaper with its Web counterpart — as well as with a version delivered to an electronic tablet reader — in an abbreviated sort of life-cycle analysis that considered major inputs like energy used for editorial work, production of paper or electronic components and so forth. The results were interesting.

    "Time spent online, for instance, mattered. So, too, did the locale. In the Swedish market alone, reading the news online for 10 minutes, or even for 30 minutes, or using the tablet reader, resulted in lower CO2 emissions than reading a physical newspaper. In the wider European market, however, things were different. Using the tablet or reading online for just 10 minutes generated less CO2 than the printed product. But when the time spent reading online was increased to 30 minutes, the printed product proved more eco-friendly."

    What does this mean? Hard to say. Certainly differences in power generation matter.

  • A few weeks after I bought the Kindle, I was sitting alone in a restaurant in Austin, Texas, dutifully working my way through an e-book about business and technology, when I was hit with a sudden desire to read a novel. After a few taps on the Kindle, I was browsing the Amazon store, and within a minute or two I'd bought and downloaded Zadie Smith's novel "On Beauty." By the time the check arrived, I'd finished the first chapter.

    Aha.

    I knew then that the book's migration to the digital realm would not be a simple matter of trading ink for pixels, but would likely change the way we read, write and sell books in profound ways. It will make it easier for us to buy books, but at the same time make it easier to stop reading them. It will expand the universe of books at our fingertips, and transform the solitary act of reading into something far more social. It may well end up undermining some of the core attributes that we have associated with book reading for more than 500 years.

  • "Park Dae-sung, better known as Minerva, built up a huge online following by making largely negative – and accurate – predictions on the economy. When they finally tracked him down in January they found the unemployed 31-year-old picking up his financial know-how by surfing the web and reading mail-order text books.

    "His indictment under a rarely used law of "spreading false information with the intent of harming the public interest" caused a storm of protest from human rights groups, but he is now free to blog again. The court found that however misleading his articles, there was no proof of malicious intent."

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