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« Lazy Equivalence on Journalism Ethics | Main | Watched by Bloggers, and Humbled »

January 14, 2005


Mack Zulkifli

Money without menaces.

jean-paul PINZUTI

with "wifi clouds" covering the world faster and faster and hopefully cheaper and cheaper (?) grassroot journalism will certainly "take over" just like grassroot professionals (like us...) are now efficiently competing against "global dinausaurs"... our customers cannot believe how much cost efficient we are compared to the "global dinausaurs" who will follow the steps of arthur andersen who used to beat us claiming "global credibility and sustainability"...

jean-paul PINZUTI

with "wifi clouds" covering the world faster and faster and hopefully cheaper and cheaper (?) grassroot journalism will certainly "take over" just like grassroot professionals (like us...) are now efficiently competing against "global dinausaurs"... our customers cannot believe how much cost efficient we are compared to the "global dinausaurs" who will follow the steps of arthur andersen who used to beat us claiming "global credibility and sustainability"...

jean-paul PINZUTI

with "wifi clouds" covering the world faster and faster and hopefully cheaper and cheaper (?) grassroot journalism will certainly "take over" just like grassroot professionals (like us...) are now efficiently competing against "global dinausaurs"... our customers cannot believe how much cost efficient we are compared to the "global dinausaurs" who will follow the steps of arthur andersen who used to beat us claiming "global credibility and sustainability"...

jean-paul PINZUTI

dan i am very sorry for posting three times but i was asked to "resend" by "your" system to avoid "malicious" postings... is ther a bug somewhere ? again sorry and thank you for your actions JPP

Tim Andonian

I suspect a viable economy will emerge from a society which finds value in the process of re-organizing itself in the light of shared content, easy and cheap distribution, and shared value of information in general. We already see that distributed journalism threatens the business model of the news media industry, and the news as a commodity model. As much as this has worked for a period of time, it does not work with the tools which we use today. And if we feel that this tool, the internet, and it's emergent use, the global discussion, is of noble pursuit, a re-structuring must consider how to influence (market or otherwised) the giants to re-structure. If distributed journalism is the re-democratization of the market place(the global discussion), then building local economies which are linked via this discussion might reach a critical mass of the people as a an influential force.
First things first though. If we don't do something to reframe the idea of a free and open network as something other than the realm of theives and preying bad guys, we are wasting our time. If P2P is thought of only as where people steal music, we are screwed. We have a lot of work to do reframing the majority's entire perception of our technology and it only makes sense to use Democracy as one of the key principles.
Jim Moore of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society has a great piece about what he calls the Second Superpower. This has been a large piece of helping me understand better what is happening and what could happen in our society as we connect as a whole.

James Governor

Really brilliant points. We have been wondering about the impacts of grassrootsness on business models of industry analysts too (another community like journalists that like to see themselves as the only truly credible information source). Far lower margins are on the cards. I saw industry analyst firms thinking like dotcoms in the late 90s before the dotcoms imploded and so did many of our businesses. anyway i reckon that we'll be seeing "grass roots analysis" too, in both consumer-marketing (google zeitgeist or technorati as market share and interest and buzz counters) and enterprise IT (many enterprise customers are looking to know about how other enterprises solved a particular problem. webconnectedness and RSsemantics makes the role of analysts in arbitraging this information look more like a problem, less like a benefit, for the customer). I just wrote a piece calling for major change in the sector

I too look forward to making money in differnt ways than the monopoply media era.

Tim Andonian

I see a grassroots economy which deals almost entirely at first in the micro and local scale of everything. look at what the dean campaign taught us about micro funding. As we use this technology to organize ourselves we can effectively use very small amounts of money from all over the place. I am having a hard time pinning down a term for this. Is it finding economy at the low end? creating more value in every dollar? As I begin to structure a non-profit organization, I am looking for ways to A. bolster this concept, and B. to actually find ways for myself to live and deal in this scale of finance and "far lower margins", in the Bay Area.

Karen M.

How about... micronomy, nanoteconomy (economy of small technology), conneconomy (web economy), denseconomy (more value in every $) ?

I also like "glocal" when you start talking about global + local...



Writing on a different kind of currency. Here's a grand unification theory that suggests a comprehensive framework driving the future.

The Sound Idea: A currency that counts.

Tim Andonian

Good stuff Karen. I have heard glocal, but have forgotten it since, I like it.
Can anyone break down the roots of economy?

Glocal economy-an economy that is essentially equal at the most basic size, the family, which can scale all the way to the whole collective family.

what principles would be at the core of this economy? they would have to be a string or loop of interconnecting principles which envelope opposite sides of the same coin. the whole being the same as the single unit. Glocal. Can anyone break down the roots of economy?


Most of this activity is outside of any monetary economy. Look at what DKos for example is generating - a gift economy / barter. I think it is good that money is kept out of the loop as much as possible in such models. Societies should not have to pay up as a precondition of coming to a productive state of self-awareness and understanding.

Tim Andonian

Agreed. I like to think of economy in the broadest sense, encompassing monetary currency, barter, gift. what else is there? A healthy economy will be a blend of all of these. Lets face it, monetary currency is very powerful, and it isn't going away. But we might influence a convergence of the gift and barter economy with the currency economy.
Check out I have build half the furniture in my house from "garbage". However it is perfectly good, in somecases brand new lumber. I plan to build as much of the furniture in the house as possible with this 'garbage' and within 5 years, I am planning for the entire house to be re-mixed into a living example of building sustainably with our trash. Our economy expresses no value in the local scale, in this case, micro amounts of raw goods. But I suggest it might be possible that we build a new local economy, literally with our waste, especially industrial waste.

Steven Ericsson Zenith


This post is a no-op/platitude.

Of course a couple of private-equity investors will agree you need sustainable businesses in this arena. I doubt there was a single case at anytime in the bubble when private-equity investors did not advocate same.

I also doubt that the length of time they are prepared to commit to any investment has changed since the bubble. You need to ask them if their exit expectations have changed and if their ROI models have modified - I accept that the latter has been the case.


Tim Andonian

DAN! Where is Dan?
If you are going to ask for discussion, please partake and guide the discussion. If not, thats cool, label it as such, and take away the comment feilds or something. You are leading us all into little alleyways. I guess I still have hope at this point that you are using all these good people's thoughts to make your project come alive.

Kirk House

Why do you assume we "need sustainable businesses in this arena"? Blogging is virtually free unless you want the bells and whistles. I hosted video of the Tsunamis to a quarter million visitors to my blog in January alone using BlogTorrent. Terabytes of content distributed, didn't cost a nickle. How do you extract revenue from that equation? There are at least 14 open source blog projects off and running right now so the only place left to make money is with services like TypePad that simplify the entire blog publishing process. When blog tech stabilizes Open Source will catch up and prices will drop even further. Advertizing remains an option but even that is hampered by RSS and "debranding".

Charging for content isn't an option because current payment inefficiencies don't allow for micropayments. When you have millions of bloggers churning out high quality content free of charge the non-free stuff had better be damn high quality.

I look at journalism and think that it should be protected from government but also from business. The question is then who pays for it? The distribution is cheap now thanks to the Internet but the cost of labor hasn't changed. Bloggers get fired from their jobs for blogging so there is an opportunity cost. The only way to pay these new journalists without corporate sponsorship or government string attachment would be through anonymous philanthropists.

The ultimate act of patriotism in my opinion is to donate anonymously to some of the top bloggers on the net. American or otherwise. It may the only way to get unbiased, high quality news. (And in case you're wondering, there is no way to donate to me on my blog).

Business/Political Parties turn journalism into marketing, especially if you're a starving blogger with a ton of traffic.

Dan Gillmor

Kirk, this is a great question. I don't claim that all blogging and other forms of grassroots journalism need a business model, any more than the average living room musician needs one. Most have other jobs.

I'd like to think that we could finance excellent, professional grassroots journalism via patronage -- even, as you say, anonymous philanthropy. But I doubt that there are many people who'll donate to bloggers whose work they don't know, and doubt even more that there's enough patronage to pay for enough great journalism in any event.

Tim, I'm here, but I was in back-to-back meetings and phone calls all day yesterday. Nice to be missed, though...

Steven, I share your questions about financial expectations in the investment community, but there has been some moderation, I think, since the bubble burst.


Tim and Kirk make some excellent points. But I wonder why donate to top bloggers rather than significant local bloggers? And, I wonder why if the emphasis is on distributed and citizen journalism, one is looking for professional and business models? I am working on a project that involves distributing cell phones with cameras and digital cameras to poor and disenfranchised people in my area, teaching them how to use these and access public computers so that they can create their own blogs and eventually tv quality media. It is true that philanthropy won't fund something like forever (or probably very long for that matter). My hope, though, is that the participants will develop knowledge sharing strategies and localized exchanges that will at least suggest alternatives to a business approach.

Tim Andonian

Jodi, can you specify your area, I like to get a clearer vision of what is happening and where.
Thanks Dan, didn't mean to get pushy, but I missed your presence for several posts.
I think what kirk is saying is more than valid. The real issue is in the fact that our society as a whole is not sustainable. Our big business models are based on scarcity, which new media like what kirk was discussing, has flipped on it's head. Our ecology is comming apart in our hands, and our social structure is also comming apart, dare I say, in Our hands. NOW, not to be a doom and gloom kind of guy.I am merely pointing to the fact that there is everything to consider. Ecology, Democracy, and how we interact in our ecology and with eachother; Network Principles, which could be looked at as the third piece which inter-connects all three with it's introduction on a global scale.
I don't mean that this forum need be anything but a think tank for citizen journalism, but I do feel an urgency for the greater blogosphere to realize better organization so as to connect all the issues better. I have no idea how this is done, but I feel strongly(and I've writen this here many times) that each individual blogger has the choice of software solutions that allow for great community building and democratic process and a greater freedom to organize ideas. There is a huge fish to fry and it is bigger than any one issue alone. But the linking issue in my mind seems to be this electronic form of communications organization and what it holds for our understanding of human relationship to eachother and our environment.

Kirk House

Jodi, I suggest donating to the top bloggers because of the bang for buck effect. If all bloggers are unpaid it seems like a good idea to start with those who reach the most people. That said, those previously unfilled niches in the now possible Long Tail of journalism are probably going to be just as important as the top bloggers.

I wonder what would happen if a top blogger posted something like "As of today I will no longer be ad supported but I ask that if you find my work valuable that you please donate." Sounds unlikely but Bram Cohen, the inventor of free software called BitTorrent makes a living simply from the donate link on his website. From
"For Cohen, it's all a little surreal. He gets up in the morning, helps his wife feed their children, and then sits down at his cord-and-computer-choked desk to watch his PayPal account fill up with donations from grateful BitTorrent users - enough to support his family."

That's one of the many parallels I see between Open Source software and Journalism 2.0. Maybe we'll see something like the donation supported emerge except it will be a training ground for grassroots journalists instead of coders. The spartan journalism entry at Wikipedia might be a good place to start.


Journalism 2.0 is what HumanityV2.0 is doing via Web2.0 !!

If Dan calls JournalismV2.0 as grassroot level or whatever, I'll live with problemo !!

What matters is that Business2.0 has yet to understand and get onto the cluetrain... Its not about money for me (bloggers ?) its about being involved freely with whatever suits my fancy.. I blog, therefore I am.. !! When the bigger vested interests of corporations begin to even fathom these ideas, then they will begin their journey into unknown playing fields... They can make money.. but it needs to be a 2020 vision.. get me quickly rich schemes like doing a tattoo on your forehead.. the bid falls to $100 evenutally .. same paradigm.. !!


To catalog some of the possibilities here specifically:

For bloggers:

1. Micropayments - eg: 5 cents per article read
2. Donation - donate as you see fit
3. Ad based - In content (affiliate links) or out of content (banner ads, etc)

For aggregators / hosting:

1. Profiling readers based on OPML files and serving up relevant ads
2. Aggregator Software/Service flat fee
3. Hosting services


Micropayments are very ideal but are having a very hard time getting off the ground due to transaction overhead costs. Blogs may be the killer app for Micropayments, however. This is the one that I am most excited about.

"Sending traffic to root" problem. What's the root? eg: If I report on a press release, how do I encourage people to send traffic my way? Need to send traffic according to value provided in blog-chain (correct terminology?)

Open Source software is free, thus making aggregator software /services model unlikely.

Profiling readers behaviour is good, but doesn't provide incentive for journalists themselves.

Donation / Gift economy is the best of all worlds, but seems contrary to human nature.

Ad Based is good - but related products to particular articles is generally poor. After all, what's AdSense going to servce up for articles on Iraq?

Hosting Services are possible but will likely rely on business models that encourage grassroots journalism.

Am I missing any low hanging fruit here?


Interesting thread!

Tim, your posts are great. I like their optimism and focus on outcomes which may be why, in spite of my usual pessimism, I started the community media project I mentioned (which is possible because of a recent grant to establish here one of the first rural community technology centers). I live in Geneva, New York. It's in the Finger Lakes and the beginning of the rust belt. Geneva is a 'small city' with approximately 20 % unemployment and a large population of extremely disadvantaged people (including migrant farmers here for the grapes in the new wine industry). If upstate were disconnected from downstate, we would be 48th in the nation for all indicators (education funding, income, etc). In my area, over 40% of women live below self-sufficiency.

Kirk: ok, that makes sense, especially as an alternative to advertising--people's readers or constituencies will contribute. But, why exactly do people need to be paid for blogging? Why should it be a professional, paid activity rather than a citizen or participatory activity? Would there be a difference in paying for live journal entries than say for political ones? And, don't a number of people already do this because of benefits that exceed the financial?


"Donation / Gift economy is the best of all worlds, but seems contrary to human nature."

Look at the blogosphere, Wikipedia, Indymedia, Daily Kos, Slashdot etc etc ad infinitum - What's there already (now getting venture capital interest) was built from the ground up by volunteer labour in the main.

The best thing imho about the swarm media forms emerging is the way the 'audience' in traditional terms is becoming the producer of value. I mean to pick one US example is great to me not because of Atrios himself but because the amazing witty but sharp current affairs dynamic going on in the commentary section. Those people aren't getting paid and I don't think they would want to.

I don't think that such groups have suddenly gone against the rules of human nature. Top down mass media structures with their in built dictatorial format are far more against the rules of human nature.This is just tech catching up with people.


Great point, irishhead, the best parts, the action, involves exchanges that are not paid.

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