A CALL TO ACTION: Time to make the marketplace for privacy, trust, identity and information commerce

“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 from the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri.”
— excerpt from Aug. 4 announcement.

This week I’m relieved and grateful to report the publication of “From Paper to Persona,” a white paper about the present and future of the news – its sustainability and change. Relieved because it wraps up many years of thinking, and the comments from the circulating draft have been helpful and insightful. Grateful to the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute for supporting this work over more than two years, for seeing it as innovative and important, and for fulfilling its mission to seed ideas, conduct experiments and research that nourish journalism.


“From Paper to Persona: Managing Privacy and information Overload; Sustaining Journalism in the Attention Age,” is really two documents — 24 pages of situation analysis followed by a 13-page argument for a solution. Some may see the solution as aspirational, or impractical, even as they find the situation analysis valuable. I hope there’s a next step – that those who see the challenges faced by news organizations will either embrace the Information Trust Association argument, modify it, or find another one. We are past the point of waiting for someone else to do something.

It’s important that if you are interested in acting, not waiting, you let us know to include you in any news of followup discussion or convenings. Email Densmorew@rjionline.org and we’ll put you on the mailing list.

You can read, a news-style summary of the report suitable for linking or reposting at the Information Valet blog (OR DOWNLOAD PDF). Below is a quick summary.

A growing attention economy is transforming the news business. It represents for the institutions which practice journalism a chance to survive beyond the era of mass-market advertising, by becoming “information valets” for their readers, viewers and users. Trust, access, identity and value are core issues, affecting convenience, privacy and personalization. The attention economy will invite new collaboration among news, advertising, publishing, entertainment, technology and philanthropic services.

As the news and paper come unglued, what will pay for journalism in the new news ecosystem? We need a new digital marketplace for information and for a new kind of “advisor-tising.” Managing information overload is an opportunity. The solution in “From Paper to Persona” suggests how publishers can cultivate customized, one-to-one relationships with users, provide them personalized information, and get paid for doing so. News organizations need new revenues to improve journalism’s service to participatory democracy. They might provide a new service to the public besides trying to sell stories. Managing the privacy and information preferences of individuals is one such opportunity.

Thus the defining new-revenue challenge for news organizations in the 21st century is no longer just managing proprietary information, but learning to help the public manage our attention to ubiquitous information, and manage how our personal information – our profiles or “persona” — is handled by others.

In less than a decade, we have moved from a world of relative information scarcity — access restricted by a variety of technical choke points — such as presses — to a world of such information abundance that the average user’s challenge is not how to access information, or even how find it, but how to personalize, trust and make sense of it. The Internet as we know it today is not up to this task. “From Paper to Persona: Managing Privacy and Information Overload; Sustaining Journalism in an Attention Age,” explains how a new public-benefit collaboration could help stop the shrinking of American journalism.


Related Links

What do we mean by persona?

An Information Trust Association will recognize in its governance structure the interests of at least four different constituencies: Rights-holders (authors/artists), publishers (aggregators), audience-owners (banks, publishers, billers etc.), and end-users.

Follow: Early comments about “Paper to Persona.”

Read:“Making the New Digital Market: The Case for the Information Trust Association”

View: “Ideas to Practice: The Information Valet Project” (Nov. 4, 2009 slide deck-6.4megs)

Background: What is meant by the “Four-Party model?”

Video:The Information Valet Project: Origins in 12 minutes

Video: Bill Densmore arrived at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism with a mission — create a shared-user network owned by the nation’s news and information-services industry which could address privacy, enhanced advertising and charging for content. Watch this 12-minute video of Densmore’s May 5, 2009 presentation of his research: http://vimeo.com/4557201


Comments are closed.