Tag Archives: infovalet

Response to Gillmor: With Facebook and Google+ now dueling for your ‘persona’ — is it time for the Information Trust Association?

Arizona State journalism professor and Knight chair holder Dan Gillmor is calling for an effort to “federate” identity management on the web:

“What I’d like to see, and would support with my money, is a collection of open-source, community-driven, federated services that achieved the same goals without putting our data and content into the hands of a few large and increasingly powerful companies. I suspect I’m not alone in wanting this. Are there enough of us to matter? And if so, are developers listening?”

He wrote that as the last paragraph to a blog post at The Guardian (U.K.) entitled: “Google+ forces us to question who owns our digital identity: Are enthusiastic users of social networking sites giving up too much control?”

In the post, Gillmor warns that putting too much of your “persona” — data about your friends, your “likes,” your interests and demographics — in a large social-networking service may be handing over too much control over your privacy without much in return. He’s correct, and it’s a key ongoing topic of the Information Valet Project. It’s also a key challenge addressed by our call for the formation of a global Information Trust Association, which would help establish protocols and opt-in business rules for trust, privacy, identity and information commerce on the web. I replied:

Dan:

Responding to your last paragraph: In a more detailed post I’m sure you would have mentioned Doc Searls’ ProjectVRM work at the Berkman Center at Harvard University. Broadly, what we need is an infrastructure that supports multiple places where you can lodge your “persona” (demographic and personal data), and which vouch for you as you use resources on the web. Today Facebook Connect is the default commercial identity provider for the web. Clearly G+ is making a play to be No. 2, and the fact that Facebook blocked it is at one level a welcome sign of competition.

What we need is for there to be dozens, hundreds, thousands of identity service providers — so that users can choose the one they are most comfortable with. These could be banks, telcoms, ISPs, publishers, affinity groups or even new enterprises (such as Azigo.com or Personal.com) formed for this purpose. The key issue is that they be willing — and able — to cross-authenticate their users so that they are silos, but silos which are unwalled from the user perspect.

We’re in the early stages of a four-party approach to trust, privacy, identity and information commerce — users, the user agent who helps with identity, the outfits that rely on the trust provided by the user agent (retail and content websites, eventually health-care providers perhaps) and a fourth party — the service which authenticates all of this activity.

The fourth party — the authenticator — best not be a for-profit or government entity. I’ve sketched out an idea for a global Information Trust Association which starts to get at a possible solution.  And the white paper http://www.papertopersona.org details the idea.

Yesterday, in Washington, D.C., a group of about 15 people met to work on a response to the Obama administration’s call for a private-sector let approach to Internet federated identity. They were responding to the National Strategy for Trusted identities in Cyberspace.  The government effort may be a catalyst for the work you are asking about.

– bill densmore
http://www.newshare.com/wiki/index.php/Disclosure

Android as a moat protecting Google’s (advertising) castle; “advisor-tising” and the Infovalet

InfoValet mark

Infovalet mark

We exchange email yesterday with my CircLabs Inc. colleague, Jeff Vander Clute, about a blog post written by venture capitalist Bill Gurley. Gurley’s post  (LINK) argues that Google is giving away the Android operating system — and many things around it — because no one can compete with free and the mass adoption of these free services is making Google’s advertising business unassailable.

Vander Clute remarked about Gurley’s thesis:

Fascinating points leading up to the legal destruction of wealth. It stands  to reason that the marginal cost of software development going to zero in the  long run means upside going to zero. Entrenched players for whom software > development is cheap or a byproduct can choose to give away a version of  *your* product for free or less than free.

Right. So one begins to realize this essential truth — Google is neither a technology company, nor a search company. It has become a marketing company. Currently its business is the selling of advertising. It didn’t start out that way. It started out intending the organize the world’s information and make it useful and accessible. But now Wall Street expects it to feed its advertising juggernaut first.

For the advertising to remain effective, Google is going to have to learn more and more about us. The looming battle: On what terms does it learn about us and operate in what I’ve begun to call the “advisor-tising” space? For Google the engineering and software — Android, maps, apps, wallets — is now focused on drawing more and more of us in, and learning more and more about us, so that we can be better and better packaged and presented to people who want to sell us something.

At least in the world I come from, there is the intention to provide a service — civic information — that rides atop advertising and is served by it rather than vice versa. At least that’s been an aspiration for the news industry and the continuing focus of its best thinkers.

The good news: Gradually, Google — and Facebook — are going to figure out that being the “infovalet” requires a new kind of trust relationship with the user if you want to remain their most-favored agent. And that will involve providing something of value beyond a lot of free, ad-supported services. How about news? Google has for now one of the must trusted and recognized brands in the world. It will need to adopt the role of infovalet to keep that enviable position.

Figuring out that relationship is the next phase of the web and what fascinates me and why I crafted our RJI white paper as “Paper to Persona.” And it’s a playing field where news organizations have strength — if they can just learn to use technology as adroitly and innovatively as do Facebook, Google and Amazon.

What we mean by “valet” — a little explanation

NEW: “From Paper to Persona white paper”


In the white paper “From Paper to Persona,” we use the term: “information valet” or “infovalet.”  “Valet” may not yet bet the perfect metaphor, it’s the best we’ve come up with to describe the change necessary for news organizations to morph and grow in the new news ecology of information abundance.

We don’t mean the car parker. We mean the king’s valet or concierge, the helping person who knows your interests and requirements and just quietly takes care of them. The term “information agent” was popular a
decade ago, but to me that sounds too much like a spy, and with the increased concern about privacy it seems the wrong metaphor now. And concierge, which might be better, is too long.

Now, we refer to an entity that helps people manage their use of digital information. The help might include:

  • Controling access to an individual’s personal demographic or preference information
  • Curating and personalizing the storage, receipt or exchange of information
  • Paying for access to information by subscription, per click or per item.
  • Receiving value for viewing or accepting commercial offers, such as advertising or reward points.

Real-world analogies to the role of the “infovalet” might be to an agent, broker or retailer, with the important attribute that the InfoValet’s economic interests are principally aligned with the individual consumer or buyer of services, rather than with the seller.

However, an infovalet might have different roles for difference transactions. For example, a news organization operating as an infovalet to readers, viewers or users might be solely their curator or agent for finding trustworthy information and services on web or mobile platforms. However, the news organization might promote its own content to its own users.

The ideas of agency, and economic interest are not clear cut.  A retailer, for example, might market Product A more heavily than competing Product B because it received a special wholesale buy of Product A allowing it to realize more profits vs. selling Product B. In an open market for digital information, with lots of competing InfoValets, users might be expected to favor those whose practices are most transparent and aligned with the user’s interests.

I first began using the term infovalet in 2007 and included it in a spring, 2008 fellowship proposal to the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, writing, in part:

These valets will compete across geographic and topical spheres with search, advice, community, research, linking, hosting, data storage and other services. They will compete to be best at meeting the consumer’s diverse information needs within communities defined by individual users. Information resources will not typically be owned by the valet. Rather, the valet will be compensated for finding, shaping and referring them to the consumer, much as a retailer aggregates and merchandises for wholesalers.

Starting the RJI fellowship, we defined the intention of the Information Valet Project. Participants in “Blueprinting the Information Valet Economy,”  in December 2008, added some depth to the idea and, with the help of consultant Steve Mott, came up with a consensus summary of the envisioned  service:

A computerized, community-based ecosystem that enables consumers to opt-in to convenient, secure and private information exchange with trusted providers of online content, products and services where the relationship value of the consumer is captured and married to optimized positioning of seller offerings.

Components:

  •     Enrollment/registration process that screens (and protects) users
  •     Creation of secure credential with user-set privacy levels
  •     Downloadable(?) single sign-on capability for participating sites
  •     User-created and updatable profiles of preferences, interests and demographics
  •     Certification of trusted providers and participants
  •     Ability to match dynamically-specified buyer interests with customized seller offerings
  •     Transparent payment capability with user-specified ways to pay
  •     User-defined rewards that can be collected among user-specified provider participants
  •     Visa-like payment engine/network/capability to slice-and-dice payments, establish and enforce rules, handle problems, service customers, provide reports, administer licenses/IP, etc.
  • In August, 2009, when I spoke in Prague on a State Department program, I asked through an interpreter what people thought about “valet.” The feeling was that it was as good as anything else, even translated into Czech.

    It does require perhaps a little explaining but that’s because it’s a new construct about the role of news organizations.

    Historically, editors thought of themselves as either delivering what readers needed to read or what they wanted to read, where want was defined in a crassly mass market “if it bleeds it leads” kind of way.

    This is something new. It’s about taking the time, and developing the technology, to listen carefully and learn from individual reader/viewer/user interests and preferences and then equally carefully matching those with useful, trustworthy information. Converging with some of these ideas are the work of experts in the field of network identity, security and authentication.

    KEY EFFORTS SUPPORT INTERNET IDENTITY

    • The Berkman Center on the Internet and Society has for several years supported “Project VRM,” an initiative of Doc Searls, a former advertising-agency executive and Linux software trade-publication editor who has been arguing that Internet commerce must switch from being controlled by vendors and called CRM, for “Customer Relationship Management,” to VRM, or “Vendor Relationship Management” controlled by consumers.  Key questions: Can consumers do that themselves, managing their privacy and persona and extracting value for them.? Or do they need a new kind of agent to help them?  In February, 2011, Searls had submitted a proposal to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for support to commercialize his “EmanciPay” microaccounting system. It would allow consumers to make offers to purchase on the web on their own terms and prices – and vendors would then decided if and how to respond. The agents who would help consumers to make offers and manage their personal are termed by Searls “The Fourth Party.”
    • Searls, Kaliya Hamlin, Mary Ruddy and Drummond Reed are behind the Identity Commons, and the related Internet Identity Workshop – ongoing meetings in Silicon Valley among researchers and technologists working on trust and identity frameworks for the web.  The Identity Commons has received some backing from major companies, including Microsoft Corp.

    These groups, as well as entrepreneurs like Paul Trevithick, a Wellesley Hills, Mass., chairman of the Information Card Foundation,  have been advising the Obama administration as the U.S. Commerce Department determines what role the government might play in fostering user identity on the web.  The agency is balancing both privacy policies with an apparent desire to preside over the adoption of digital identities issues by the private sector but compatible with the governnment’s needs.

    Join the disussion at the American Press Institute

    More than 40 newspaper-industry executives, researchers and advisors are gathered at the American Press Institute in Reston, Va. today for the two-day convening, “Newsmedia Economic Action Plan Conference.” The event follows the May release of the API report: “Newspaper Economic Action Plan.” The idea of organizers is to use an open-space style event to consider what newspapers can do to sustain journalism and their business.

    Click Here To Watch the CoverItLive running blog discussion (and participate)

    At 9:30 a.m. EASTERN today, two experts on newspaper website analytics will be unveiling an initial tranche of research on some 100 sites. Gregory Harmon of Belden Interactive and Greg Swanson of ITZ Publishing will make
    the case that newspapers can move to selectively charge for content without losing the majority of their online advertising revenue.

    The event was by-invitation only, but organizers have invited live blogging of the Harmon/Swanson session as a service to the news industry. You can follow the participants’ blogging by going to this link:

    http://tinyurl.com/ps38bc at or after 9:30 a.m. EASTERN.

    Some people may post or comment on the blogstream via Twitter using the
    hashtag: #apinewsmedia

    And this temporary URL will carry informational updates about the event through the day and until it’s conclusion at mid-day on Tuesday: http://www.journalismtrust.org

    EVENT HOME PAGE

    WIKI BACKGROUND PAGE

    API’s Mary Glick says she and colleague Mary Peskin framed the conference around API’s NEAP White  Paper, an integrated five-point plan to guide the news industry  through the current disruptions and position itself for the future  by:

    • Establishing a true value for news content online and generating revenue from it.
    • Maintaining the free flow of content and monetizing it equitably.
    • Thwarting unauthorized re-use of content that originates in newspapers.
    • Investing in technologies that enhance the user experience and provide content-based e-commerce, data sharing and other revenue solutions.
    • Adapting revenue strategies from those focused on advertisers to those focused on consumers.

    Staying Alive: Discussion Heats Up on Sustaining Journalism

    On a gray and rainy day in Washington D.C.  some 120 participants gather to share, discuss and debate thoughts, ideas and offer solutions to staunch the blood flow in the industry.

    Newspapers are headed to the graveyards, and Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon’s Kindle, have changed the ways that news and information are decimated. Bottom line: How can the news industry make money, which is crucial to the survival of the industry and journalists themselves?

    A very sharp audience for the first discussion on “The Strategic Landscape for Sustaining News.”

    Lots of thoughtful questions from anti-trust issues, to consumer protection, to what the business models of 21st century journalism is i.e. paywalls, content, subscription, reinventing the reader model? What is the formula, the golden key, and the answers to stop the downspiral of newspapers and journalism, which started long before the economy went south?

    The panelists included a number of media/new media’s movers and shakers including Walter Issacson the former editor of Time Magazine and now the head of The Aspen Institute, Cynthia Typaldos the founder of Kachingle, Matt Mankins of In-a-Moon, Scott Karp the co-founder of Publish2 and Merrill Brown one of the partners and co-founders of Journalism Online, LLC, which includes telecom bigwig like Leo Hindery.

    Here are some discussion highlights:

    • Merrill Brown and his team from Journalismonline LLC are creating a product where publishers can name their own price. “When we meet publishers we make the point that, what you do and how you price is your choice, but it may not save your business,” Brown says.  
    • Issacson notes that the current news downspiral is “not  about saving journalism or more the informatin,” it’s about saving journalism and more importantly digital creativity.” Most journalists can’t afford to be hobbyists, and need a salary to survive.  
    • Issacson notes that a solid business model requires a variety of business streams.
    • Scott Karp points out that the news industry needs to come together to build their own news aggregator, and calls it a “big untapped opportunity.”  
    • Cynthia Typaldos, a serial entrepreneur, restarted Kachingle, a site that allows consumers to contribut to their favorite websites, about a year ago, describes the newsconsumer of today as such:  “It’ all about me, me, me. the user. The prodcuer doesn’t set the price anymore the user sets the price.” “Now the user is the center of the universe,” she says.
    • Typaldos adds that many users are now producers themselves, and recognize the value of content and the effort that it takes to make great content.”
    • Typaldos isn’t a big fan of advertisers either, and belives that it played a role in the demise of newspaers.

    I am fascinated with the discussions and moved by the amount of concern from citizens, journalists, academics, and community leaders. It may be rough waters in the industry, but it seems like we’re trying to ride out the storm together.

    More to come…

    Pre conference pasta and idea swapping…

    “From Gatekeeper to Information Valet” is about to start. Let the blogging and Tweeting, and ideas begin.

    Last night we had a great pre-conference gathering of about 15 participants at Notti Bianche, the Italian restaurant at George Washington University Inn.

     Had the chance to meet with Darren Burden, director of  news and sports at  Fairfax Digital Media in Sydney, Allan Hoving, founder of  PayCheckR.com and Steve Brant a columnist for The Huffington Post, who writes about media, politics and works in the Corporate Social Responsibility arena.

    Over wine and pasta we chatted about everything from the usability of the Amazon Kindle and Apple’s iPhone, to news outlets’ struggle for the Holy Grail, a.k.a. a business model that works.

    Allan is a veteran of the print world and has worked at places like Rolling Stone and New York Magazine. Allan recently launched PayCheckR.com with some partners. He promises to share some ideas on potential money-generating models for journalism.

    Stay tuned.

     

    AUDIO: Google CEO addresses newspaper publishers in San Diego: On payments and ads

    Google Inc. CEO Eric Schmidt delivered the closing address on Tuesday (April 7) to the Newspaper Association of America convention in San Diego. The talk was sponsored by the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism. Click on the link below to go to and launch the audio, or download an MP3 podcast for offline listening. (54 minutes, 13MB) (The sound of keyboard clicking stops after the first few minutes)

    CLICK HERE TO LAUNCH STREAMING AUDIO

    The Poynter Institute website published a transcript of the Q&A portion of his appearance:
    http://www.poynter.org/content/content_view.asp?id=161441
    And here’s the script of the Cover-It-Live real-time blogging of his talk:
    http://www.newshare.com/ivp/google-schmidt.pdf

     The first question in San Diego at the NAA closing to Google CEO Eric Schmidt was asked by RJI’s Roger Gafke. Here is the exchange:

    ROGER GAFKE: You have mentioned the importance of advertising as the future but in your opening remarks you mentioned a bit about micropayments and subscriptions. Would you elaborate a bit on each of those other potentials?
    ERIC SCHMIDT: I think you are going to end up with all three. An analogy I would offer is television — there is free over-the-air-television, there’s cable television and then there’s pay television. And they have smaller markets as you go from free to more highly paid. And that structure looks to use like roughly the structure of all of these businesses. Today there are very effective subscription-based models, but there are not very good micropayment systems, micropayments meaning 1-cent, 3-cent kinds of systems. They clearly need to be developed by the industry. So I think from your perspective you should assume that your information, if there is a category of information that you all produce that you’ll want to distribute free – freely – there’s a category of information that you’ll want to distribute on a per-click basis and then there’s some of it you’ll want subscription for. The reality [is] that in this new model, the vast majority of people will only deal with the free model and so you.ll be forced whether we like it or not, to have a significant advertising component as well as a micropayment and a traditional payment system. The technology around micropayments is getting to be possible now. The transaction costs were so high before that you couldn’t do the one-cent, three-cent kind of a model. It looks like the new technologies around aggregation will allow that at the payment level.
     
     

    What happens to the bazaar and advertising in the InfoValet economy?

    This week’s Monday Note offers data and insight about the trajectory of Google AdSense and AdWords, explaining how Google is contributing to the decline in advertising CPMs and revenues for news-based enterprises.

    One notion of InfoValet is the creation of an interest-based ecosystem where you are more likely to see (perhaps at times ultimately **only** see) ads for things you have voluntarily profiled yourself as interested
    in. A user-controlled system in which you can dial up or down the amount of advertising you see, how you are compensated for your attention, and whether you, at times, choose not to see ads at all. This ends the notion of “publishing” really — it’s a new world in which your InfoValet, rather than creating a mass marketplace and selling access to the bazaar, is helping you to find and “speak” directly with the vendor at his place of business. The InfoValet gets a commission for making the connection and the vendor gets the sale, or at least the user’s attention.

    In such a network, the notions of advertising and news are remixed. If you find your way to a Ford Motor site, and Ford pays you 50 cents (directly or via your InfoValet) because you downloaded a brochure about a new hybrid Ford; or you find your way to Consumer Reports, and **you pay** to download a report on that hybrid Ford; what is the functional difference? Each represents a value exchange. The system must enable both. The integrity and ethics of these exchanges will be mediated by folks such as Newstrust.net, and perhaps by the system participants. This is why we need to teach news/media literacy in schools, and elsewhere.

    AUDIO: Bill Densmore interviewed on KTRS St. Louis about IVP

    Can news organizations figure out a way to increase the value they receive for journalism on the World Wide Web? McGraw Milhaven, talkmaster on KTRS Radio in St. Louis, interviews Bill Densmore of the Information Valet Project. Densmore is a 2008-2009 Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute fellow at the Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia, Mo. Listen to a 25-minute excerpt, followed by three minutes of Milhaven talking with a caller.   JUMP PAGE TO AUDIO STREAM (28.37 mins., 6.87 MB downoad.)

    Blueprint — Thurs. Part 2 — Problem, value and structure

    After framing the issues in the first hour, participants in “Blueprinting the Information Valet Economy” seek in discussion to reach consensus on what problem will be solved by the Information Valet Service, its key values to consumers and how it might be owned and organization. Conversation took place Thurs., Dec.3 at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, Missouri School of Journalism, Columbia, Mo.