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New news flows

Wednesday, December 03, 2008 by Dave Winer.

A picture named obamaBerlin.jpgWhen we talk about news on the net the conversation is dominated by the interests of news organizations. The stories we tell are from their point of view. The vexing problems we face are their problems, not ours. That's been the point of the series of pieces I've been writing about news. I do care about the people of news, as I care about the people of the car industry and the people who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers. And the 10K contractors who may be laid off at Google. But for the sake of this discussion, what I really care about is news and how it's going to get from them that have to them that want.  Permalink to this paragraph

In a comment yesterday I said it's often overlooked that while the Internet makes some things that we used to do diseconomic, if you took the Internet away some things we've come to expect would go away too. All the stuff people call "crowd-sourcing" -- the million eyeballs that are constantly watching, and the thousands of them that are there when news happens.  Permalink to this paragraph

I watched a bunch of campaign events this year, and one of the things that's largely been unreported is how much reporting goes on at them. I first noticed it when Hillary came out on stage to make her concession speech. Immediately every pair of hands in the room goes up, not in salute, not cheering -- each pair held a digital camera, and they were capturing images of the Clinton family. There's no doubt if you wanted a picture of that event you could get many to choose from. Permalink to this paragraph

It was something else at Mile High Stadium for the Obama acceptance event. It seemed everyone there was taking in the history of it, and again, the cameras were everywhere. Permalink to this paragraph

Look at this striking picture of the audience at the Obama rally in Berlin, taken from Obama's perspective. This is what he must have been seeing as he went across the country. Recording devices of every kind, all pointed at him. (A fair number of American flags too, which gave me goose bumps.) Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named hrc.jpgNow if there isn't something we can do with the next generation of networking tools that's truly exciting and enabling, then we need to hang it up and let someone else drive for a while. In a couple of years every one of those devices will be replaced (knock wood, praise Murphy) and will they communicate better? I hope so! At the same time, we need to work on software and networking tools that allow us to process millions of pictures of an event and do intelligent things with it. When I was in Boulder in August I saw such a toolPermalink to this paragraph

Update: VentureBeat has an excellent description of Occipital. "If multiple people upload multiple photographs from the same event around the same time, Occiptial will figure out that an event just happened and classify the photographs accordingly. Doing this right is really, really hard, yet with two people, Occipital seems to have done it. This team is scary good." Permalink to this paragraph

I've also been playing with a flow of thousands of professional photographs every day. It's really something to wrap your mind around, but after almost a year, I'm beginning to understand what kind of editorial tools you need to make sense of such a flow.  Permalink to this paragraph

And that's always the tough problem, in my experience, making sense of the information. That's what reporters do. But it's all happening now on such a huge scale, we need new systems to grapple with it. Permalink to this paragraph

Do I think there could be money-making ventures built off this flow? Absolutely. What are they? Not sure yet. ;-> Permalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.

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