Tag Archives: rji

Report: News orgs must help users with identity, privacy; consider non-profit collaboration to share tech, users, content

BRANSON, Mo., Aug. 4, 2011 — A non-profit collaboration to share technology, users and content could help news organizations find new revenues and become better at serving the public, according to a report by a Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute researcher at the University of Missouri.

The report, “From Paper to Persona: Managing Privacy and Information Overload; Sustaining Journalism in the Attention Age,” was published on Thursday and presented to the annual meeting of the Newspaper Association Managers Inc., meeting in Missouri.  It’s the result of more than two years of study by a Reynolds fellow and consultant, Bill Densmore, a career journalist, publisher and entrepreneur.

“As news and the economics of newspapers come unglued, what will sustain journalism?” Densmore asks. “The answer involves a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is how to do a better job of helping the public find knowledge they need, amid a glut so huge that the scarce human commodity is now attention, not information. The Internet provides the opportunity to do so.”

The report advocates forming an industry collaborative,  tentatively called the “Information Trust Association” by Densmore. It would define and foster a common technology playing field that respects consumer privacy, and makes rules for the exchange of both content and users’ identity information.

“Such a system might allow news originators of any size – possibly including bloggers – to exchange payments among each other and with public users for news information and sponsored material,” says Densmore.

Two thirds of the 55-page paper chronicles what Densmore says is the end of mass markets as a viable strategy for selling the advertising that has largely supported American journalism.  Instead, he says, the Internet is increasingly able to deliver commercial messages targeted to specific users’ interests and profiles – or personas.

As a result, the paper says, publishers and broadcasters have to learn how to use technology to become expert at personalizing information services. And that, says Densmore, requires them to help consumers with their privacy and personal information. They might help users to earn rewards, or pay for specialized information.

The last third of the paper argues that the Information Trust Association is the best way to help with this change. The idea is potentially controversial because the U.S. news industry has not typically cooperated on technology standards,  instead being buffeted and shrunk by services originated elsewhere such as Craig’s List, eBay, Facebook or Google.

“The point of the Information Trust Association would be to foster collaboration that increases convenience and choice for consumers,  allowing multiple service providers to compete on a common playing field,” says Densmore.  The paper offers nine examples of industries where this has occurred, including railroads, cable TV, the electric grid, electrical equipment, banking and stock exchange, and the Internet itself.

The genesis of the paper was Densmore’s 2008-2009 “Information Valet Project” fellowship at Reynolds.

“Our challenge is no longer how to access information, but how to manage our time and attention amid the glut. News organizations have the opportunity to move from being paid to deliver one-format products (broadcasts, print stories, to providing trusted multimedia, personalized services with unique insight, knowledge, curation, and aggregation. They can help users manage their privacy and identity — their persona,” says Densmore.

The white paper is now available to view and download online. Rich with more than 230 live links to additional resources and reading, “From Paper to Persona” can be found here: http://rjionline.org/news/paper-persona

To comment, join a discussion or learn more about next steps for the Information Trust Association idea, read Densmore’s blog post at:  http://tinyurl.com/persona-blog

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.

    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.
     
     

    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.

    Vodpod videos no longer available.

    Blueprint Day 2: Crafting a Development plan

    Participants craft a development plan for the InfoValet Service during “Blueprinting the Information Valet Economy” summit at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, Missouri School of Journalism, Columbia, Mo. This segment occurred Friday morning, Dec. 5, 2008 in the Smith Forum. Details: http://www.ivpblueprint.org

    Vodpod videos no longer available.