Tag Archives: news

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.

    Midwest newspapers anti-up $30K to eye for-profit collaborative to monetize Internet content

    Three Midwest newspaper associations — Kansas, Missouri and Iowa — met Nov. 20 and formed a coordinated effort to manage monetization of their content on the web, raising in minutes an initial $30,000 to start planning. They’ve asked a retiring executive of the Iowa Press Association, Bill Monroe, to look into the idea. A key part of the idea is a for-profit corporation, owned by the nation’s newspapers, to coordinate the effort.

    Original oganizers of the task force were Doug Anstaett, executive director of the Kansas Press Association; Bill Monroe, deputy executive director of the Iowa Newspaper Association; and Doug Crews, executive director of the Missouri Press Association.

    At Friday’s meeting, says Monroe, publishers present pledged “about $30,000 in 90 seconds” to help the project get through the next phase — talking to key media people nationwide and creating an inventory of all possible approaches to how to get paid for online content.

    READ MORE: http://www.newshare.com/wiki/index.php/Jta-associations

    Indiana-Purdue researcher finds relevancy, customizability most important to young news consumers

    (Summarized by Bill Densmore    )

    An academic researcher’s detailed inquiry of the media habits and desires of 16-to-30-year-old news consumers finds relevancy and customizability are the most important things youth news consumers want.

    Dr. Edgar Huang’s research involved extremely detailed surveys of a total of 28 high-school and college students. Huang is in the School of Informatics at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis. Entitled: “The Causes of Youths’ Low News Consumption and Strategies for Making Youths Happy News Consumers,” the study was published in the International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, (Vol. 15, No. 1, 105-122, c. 2009, Sage Publications).

    Some excerpts:

    – Only 7% of the same gets their news from print newspapers. Overwhelmingly, the are getting it from the web and television.

    – Nine-out-of-10 of the students had a broadband internet connection at home and they found news almost exclusively via their desktop or lap — NOT with their phone or PDA.

    – Only 1 out of the 28 students uses RSS feeds to find news.

    – Wrote Dr. Huang: “For these youth who have grown in the digital era, accessing news online is becoming their native culture.”

    When asked to propose solutions to how they should interact with news, Huang wrote that: “The two major solutions the respondents proposed were relevancy and customizability.”

    RELEVANCY

    The Indiana researcher said they wanted three kinds of relevancy — they wanted relevant news that had an effect on their lives, they wanted news that was relevant to their time-starved lives — great headlines and stories short and to the point; and they wanted “media relevancy.”

    MEDIA RELEVANCY

    Media relevancy was defined by Dr. Huang’s the respondents as “news delivered in a media format they are comfortable with — easy to navigate, interactive, searchable, filterable, containing graphics and videos, and providing much more information than newspapers for optional in-depth reading, hading for those who were near a computer often, enabling viewing from various digital devices and allowing time shifting.”

    CUSTOMIZABILITY

    Eight of the 28 study respondents said that online users “should be allowed to customize their preferences for news so that the news they liked to see could be fed to them either on a customizable news website or social networking sites . . . so that they did not have to spend time searching for such news. However, they would like to be able to scan all the to stories to see if anything else would interest them.”

    ONE RESPONDENT’S VISION FOR CUSTOMIZABILITY

    One of the respondents specifically envisioned that “a news website will learn and calculate how many times I hit on specific news. The web site will remember my interests in news and then rearrange the front page with the kind of news that I enjoyed whenever I visit the site.”

    Said a second respondent to the 28-student survey by Dr. Edgar Huang of Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis: “I would like a personalized website that had all the news that I feel is relevant to me.”

    CONTACT INFO:
    Edgar Huang, Ph.D., MFA
    Associate Professor, School of Informatics
    Adjunct Professor, School of Journalism
    Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
    535 W. Michigan Street, Suite IT 481
    Indianapolis, IN 46202-3103
    Email: ehuang@iupui.edu
    Phone: (317) 278-4108
    Fax: (317) 278-7669
    http://newsroom.informatics.iupui.edu/directory/ehuang
    http://www.iupui.edu/~nmstream/
    http://www.iupui.edu/~j21099/hospitalwebsitevideos/index.html

    Knight Commission report on community news needs streamed live on Oct. 2

    What are the news and information needs of communities?

    A two-year inquiry by a joint Aspen Institute-Knight Foundation study commission will issue its findings on the subject on Friday — and you can watch their report live and follow the Twitter stream via the hashtag #knightcomm.

    Erin Silliman, who is project manager of the communications and society program at the Aspen Institute advises the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities, says the meeting will be streamed live from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. EDT from this URL: http://www.knightcomm.org

    To view the full agenda and speakers, go to:
    http://tinyurl.com/yb4ud5w

    A project of the Aspen Institute and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the “Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy” will be meeting at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

    During it’s last meeting in May, the commission’s discussion followed these themes:

    – Information is vital to people, both in regard to the quality of their individual lives and in their ability to participate in the public space.

    – People who lack access to digital information or the skills to use it risk becoming second-class citizens.

    – Information is a public good and needs to be thought of and supported in that way.

    – Journalism plays a critical in role in the lives of people, in the health of communities and in the functioning of democracy

    After opening remarks by president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Alberto Ibargüen, and Knight Commission co-chairs Marissa Mayer and Theodore B. Olson, the Commission will present the Report to Julius Genachowski, Chairman of the FCC, and other government officials.

    Knight commissioners and other leaders will then engage in a multi-panel discussion on the commission¹s recommendations. Mayer is a Google Inc. execugtive and Olson is a retired U.S. solicitor general.

    Silliman says there will be lots of information at that website address beginning on Friday at 5 p.m. EDT as well as two ways to view the written report — a fully downloadable PDF file or via individual HTML pages online.

    “We will also begin a national dialogue on the report and the Commission’s recommendations beginning Friday,” says Silliman. “We will have a very exciting and interactive web ready in conjunction with the release of the report.”

    Silliman invites questions at erin.silliman@aspeninst.org or (202) 736-5851.

    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.

    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.)