Tag Archives: content aggregation

How Do You Like Google Fast Flip?

As you might have heard, there is a new application coming out of Google Labs, called Fast Flip. I’m not going to explain what it does, go and see for yourself. But I got exactly this question in my Facebook News Feed. So, here is what I think:

At the face of it, I’m not impressed. I use RSS feed reader to aggregate news feeds, including one coming out of Google News, not to mention Twitter, Facebook and Friend Feed. That’s pretty much all I need to keep my finger on the pulse.

On the second thought, however, it really does seem interesting. Not so much as a piece of technology (image browser? c’mon) but as an indicator of where Google is heading. Let’s put the pieces together:

  • Google has been at odds with the copyright owners for years now (remember Google News lawsuits and the recent discussion around Google Books settlement?). Finally, striking a deal with the publishers and stopping the legal battles might not be bad for Google after all. And could improve Google’s position vis-a-vis Amazon.
  • Google has also unveiled a plan to roll out a system of micropayments (as a part of Google Checkout) some time next year. This system will be well-positioned to become a standard for charging for content online. Apparently Google is reaching out to publishers and helping them to collect the pennies millions of Internet users might be willing to pay for copyrighted material. Google will get their share, of course. A hint: think of iTunes and Amazon Kindle…
  • Google Checkout will also be used for selling content via Google Books for which Google needs good relationship with the publishers anyway.

What this all says to me is: Google wants to help copyright owners in order to create symbiotic relationship in which everybody gets their share of profits. Using their scale Google will create an ecosystem for paid content in the Internet (or should I say the ecosystem?). Regardless of whether the book is sold for $10 or a news article for a penny. It is volume that counts. Which puts them on a collision course with Amazon, obviously but goes far beyond that. When it comes to paid digital content distribution the leaders today are Apple with iTunes and Amazon with Kindle. Here enters Google… without manufacturing, logistics, warehouses, etc. It’s going to be exciting to see how it develops, but expect there will be more digital content and less paper in your life soon.

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How news media fight online parasites

HookwormMore often than not, today’s news from traditional publishing industries bring the picture of a hapless dodo bird in front of my eyes. No surprise there – difficult economic times usually expedite the natural selection process. Recent announcement from the Board of Associated Press however reminds me also about Xerxes, the king of Persia, who ordered the Hellespont waves to be whipped just because the storm destroyed his papyrus bridge over the strait.

NEW YORK — The Associated Press Board of Directors today announced it would launch an industry initiative to protect news content from misappropriation online.

AP Chairman Dean Singleton said the news cooperative would work with portals and other partners who properly license content – and would pursue legal and legislative actions against those who don‘t.

“We can no longer stand by and watch others walk off with our work under misguided legal theories,“ Singleton said at the AP annual meeting, in San Diego.

As part of the initiative, AP will develop a system to track content distributed online to determine if it is being legally used. AP President Tom Curley said the initiative would also include the development of new search pages that point users to the latest and most authoritative sources of breaking news.

While no details are available on those new exciting online initiatives that AP is working on, it is easier to guess who the AP’s executives have in mind when talking about “misappropriation”. Quoting WSJ editor Robert Thomson “Companies that aggregate mainstream media content without paying a fee are the »parasites or tech tapeworms in the intestines of the internet« and will soon be challenged”. He specifically pointed his finger at Google, which BTW is hard to understand, as Google apparently has a deal with AP since 2007. But that’s not only Google, although it would make sense for news publishers to go after the big guys who actually make a profit. It is easy to understand why they don’t like Google News but does this “misappropriation” extend to Digg, FriendFeed, Twitter or similar content sharing services? Are they supposed to be responsible or me? It’s me who posts the links, after all.
Just reading the news today I came across this story via Google News. But since I found it interesting, I visited articles on the topic in LA Times (I don’t remember if I have ever been there before), NY Times and The Australian (I never knew it existed, sorry). I generated my share of traffic to their websites. I created bookmarks to these articles on Digg and FriendFeed. Now, is it good or bad for the news industry?
Is it just because these guys don’t get it? Or is it to cover inability to reinvent their business model and putting a blame on somebody else?

Just Read: NYT Article Skimmer

I buzzed a little in my Social Media: What’s Hot? post about the concept of using RSS feeds to aggregate online content and also mentioned Google News service as an example of dynamically created news site. I pointed out to the dire consequences these services might have for ad revenue streams of prime content sources and online media industry. The reason is that as long as you can get your eyes on a headline and a lead, you are very likely not to click through to the full article. If you are anything like me, you will maybe visit 1% of the original full-article pages for all the general news headlines you get in your RSS reader.

One service I found very inspiring yet didn’t mention in my last post is FeedChronicle. It is basically an RSS reader that presents the feeds in a newspaper-like format. I used this service as an example of aggregating content from various sources in user-friendly service.

Today I read the NYT Article Skimmer: Recreate the Sunday Morning Paper in Your Browser on ReadWriteWeb. What New York Times offers is actually that FeedChronicle/Google News feeling. It is this ability I was thinking about: to go through you daily newspaper in a way you like – by skimming. Whatever you say about the interface, I think it is great example of media company answering to real needs of people reading all sorts of information online. Instead of fighting Google News in court, NYT tries to reinvent themselves and offer new value to their readers. The whole mass media industry is struggling, but in my personal opinion the Article Skimmer is a little step in the right direction. Embracing the Web as it stands now with content aggregators, user-generated stuff and hyperconnected information consumers. Way to go, Times!