AUDIO: Explaining the InfoValet — in 15 minutes

What is the Information Valet Project? In this 15-minute audio podcast, IVP researcher Bill Densmore of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute of the Missouri School of Journalism explains. This talk was recorded Oct. 10, 2008, at Univ. of South Carolina’s Convergence and Society annual presentation of academic papers, subtitled: “The Participatory Web.”

Click on the carat on the left of the bar below to listen to streaming audio, or download an MP3 podcast for offline listening  (14 min., 55 seconds / 14.32MB)

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5 responses to “AUDIO: Explaining the InfoValet — in 15 minutes

  1. I really don’t like this kind of payment model. I think it ought to work that major stories are available online and most loyal readers who want all the content will subscribe to the print version or an extended version online. Charging for content will spell the end of the golden age of the internet. Also trading personal information for access should be in principle be rejected.

  2. Borges:
    I agree with *both* of your observations, operationally. I think undifferentiated major stories will continue to be available for free online, whether they “ought to be” or not. Competition requires it. Also, just as the supermarket gives away turkeys at Thanksgiving to get people in the door buying other things, there is a marketing-honored tradition of offering something for free to drive traffic. Whether out of loyalty or a sense of self interest, its reasonable to invite folks to pay for specialized or unique information that reporters have worked hard to gather and present. Right now, advertisers pay for that in print. But they aren’t coming close to doing so online. On your second point — the trading of personal information for access. Do you use a loyalty card at your supermarket? If you do, you are trading personal information for a discount on your groceries. It’s a completely voluntary decision on your part. The Information Valet Service is based on the same principle — people value their privacy, but they are willing to surrender their privacy for something they perceive to have value. The crucial paradigm shift enabled by Information Valet is that the decision about how much personal information to share, and when, should be transparently up to the user, not the vendor. It becomes an economic decision for the user. I recommend a new book by Stephen Baker, “The Numerati,” mentioned in another post on this blog.
    –bill densmore

  3. Hi Bill, listening to this, it occurred to me that one of the terms you need to build into InfoValet to make it more comprehensible is the idea of digital identity, which is something others are working on. When you say, folks will choose a single InfoValet to trust with some of their personal information, in return for certain benefits, that’s digital identity—a personal profile with parameters that let you control who sees what (and responds accordingly). Digital ID has lots of possibly risky implications for transactions and privacy, but as it blooms into a true digital persona, it has the potential to enable completely new forms of Web navigation. (Although this gets away from the fundamentally transactional nature of what you’re working on.)

  4. Interesting that “ought” there. It is there because I think of this as a social justice issue. I live in a rural place where there is great resistance to using the internet and some economic/education barriers to using the resources there, so I hate to think the game will be over for this great mass of people before they even know the ball is in play. On a less idealistic note I have some practical reactions to your points Bill. Two models came up in the audio and your note: grocery stores and the music industry. I agree with your call for transparency, and no I have never used a “loyalty card” in a grocery store–I knew what they were up to and did not cooperate. That said, most folks don’t understand and that lack of transparency is wrong. Honestly I suspect telling people what will happen with their data might not help much either, because they don’t understand the power of that information to lead to manipulation of their next purchase. So I resist this as a positive model. The music industry is another interesting case. I have had discussions with musicians who come through town about getting some of their work on YouTube so I can preview their work to promote their concert. Most are not open to this because they think people will stop buying their CDs. I don’t know anyone who sits at the computer watching YouTube videos and thinks that is a fine musical experience. In my view this material on the web as basically free advertising for their work that (if it is good enough) will convince people to get a CD or download—or attend a concert where they can buy the CD. Some artists see the sense in it as I explain it, but the paranoia of intellectual property can hold folks back. I guess there is an analogy here for print and video because viewing any of these products on a computer screen is never going to be as good or complete as the full version that we have to pay for. So there are a couple ideas for discussion. I hope people do chime in with other perspectives because this is an interesting work in progress. Sorry this is as long as a blog post instead of a comment, but there is much here to talk about.

  5. Pingback: Locally Grown » RepJNorthfield.org discussed at prominent journalism school

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