links for 2010-01-23

  • Kevin: Nicholas Carr has a very smart post looking at some of the economic theory behind the New York Times' paid content plans. The idea is based on Hal Varian's concept of "versioning" for digital goods. "One prominent feature of information goods is that they have large fixed costs of production, and small variable costs of reproduction."
  • Kevin: A look at a hybrid pro-am hyperlocal project in the Czech Republic called Futuroom. Google, mobile phone company O2, Atex and investment and media group PPF. The project will work with internet cafes around the country. Journalists will work there, giving them a place to file stories but also interact with members of the public.
  • Kevin: Excellent piece on the BBC College of Journalism site. Michael Blastland writes: "Perhaps the biggest effect will be not on broadcasters or other media, but on the public, once used to thinking that data was served up by big media, now helped to see that it can be easily, colourfully obtained, with scope for interaction, at a high level of detail and relevance."

    There is a phrase sometimes heard nowadays – data-driven journalism. Is it already out of date? My question is – I admit to mischievous provocation – if you have a data-driven public with endless goodies to choose from, will you need the journalist?

  • Kevin: The New York Times digital paid content plans could create a conflict between its subscription department and its advertising deparment.
  • Kevin: Jason Schwartz warns content companies looking for a lifeline from Apple. Steve Jobs is building a "closed digital neighbourhood where Apple controls who makes money and who doesn't".
  • Kevin: Simon Waldman looks at Kodak responded to the shift to digital. He concludes:
    * There are rarely simple solutions to profound structural problems
    * Short term competitive pressures can’t be ignored, but nor can they be allowed to obscure long term strategic challenges
    * Redefining ‘what business your in’, only works if it is credible financially, as well as conceptually
    * Beware hybrid solutions that reframe disruptive forces as growth opportunities – they are often too good to be true
  • Kevin: A dynamite post by Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic looking at not only Google's struggles with Chinese cyber power but more broadly the US. The first line is a bombshell: "U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that December's mass cyber attack against 33 American companies was most likely the result of a coordinated espionage campaign endorsed by the Chinese government." Even further down in the post Ambinder talks about differences in US and China cyber security stances. He asks: "If China is so intent on stealing stuff from us, why haven't we (the US) responded?" Fascinating post. The Atlantic with Ambinder and James Fallows has been an excellent source on Google-China-US.
  • Kevin: An excellent analysis of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's address on internet freedom, coming on heels of Google's threat to quit China if it cannot operate an uncensored search engine in that country. Mark Lynch (long known for his Middle East blog Abu Aardvark) cautions of a moral hazard of suggesting that we might support internet activists. "It's great to support and encourage internet activists and protestors of all sorts. But such support can lead them to take some very risky, dangerous activities against their brutal governments, perhaps in the expectation that the United States will protect them from the consequences. Will it?"
  • Kevin: Nick Bilton of the New York Times Bits blog has an excellent look at what I've often called the "networked filter" of social media. He discusses the issue of curation and filtering. He write: Surfing the Web has become even more of a challenge as more content appears online. We are asked to navigate any number of new obstacles when finding new content: which site should I click through to read the latest earthquake news? How many blogs should I check on a daily basis? What if I miss something? Do I read the comments everywhere, too? Which social network should I update in the morning, noon or night? The list goes on.

    But we are solving the problem, through our aggregation."

  • Kevin: Whether you're pro- or anti-paid content, FT Managing Director Rob Grimshaw's comments are well worth a read. One important point in terms of online advertising that he flags up is that it shouldn't be seen in monolithic terms. "Grimshaw’s firm belief, as he has said before, is that newspapers cannot live by advertising alone.

    Citing IAB figures from last year (available at this link), he said it was paid-for search that took “by far” the bulk of the money: around 62 per cent; with 19 per cent to classified; and only 18 per cent to online advertising spend."

  • Kevin: While overall, Arnon Miskin is optimistic about Apple's upcoming media slate, he does have a word of warning for content companies. "But over the next few years, content creators and audience aggregators should be careful about how they deal with the e-readers or it could turn into primarily a bonanza for Apple, as the Kindle may be primarily a bonanza for Amazon."
  • Kevin: Kevin Rose talks about changes coming to Digg, the popular 'read-submit-vote-comment' site, as Stan Schroeder at Mashable puts it. The stories will now be displayed in a "more real-time nature". I wonder if some of these changes will mirror the Digg Labs type of visualisations that have been on the site for a while. I doubt it, but I expect it informed their thinking to some extent. Whatever the nature of the cases, it does sound like they are trying to jump on the 'real-time' web bandwagon.
  • How significant is The New York Times's decision to charge for its Web content? Very, says media gadfly Steven Brill.