The information architecture must fit

I believe that the news business’s central financial struggle right now lies in its search for a new information architecture on top of which it can monetize its alchemy of products, like raw data, and services, like human and trust. This question of economics will determine, if only roughly, all of the answers to the questions about how we’re going to get our news from the news business, which I construe broadly.

Pinning that information architecture down is hard—for a lot of reasons. The biggest reason: it’s like a fish asking, “Morning boys, how’s the water?” (We’ll miss you, DFW.) The second-biggest reason: moving parts abound.

Let’s go through some of those moving parts—some tried-and-true and some previously latent and maybe unfamiliar—at as low a level as possible. Let’s not pretend to be exhaustive.

(1) Everything Is Miscellaneous. The Long Tail. Infinite variety. Radical unbundling. Micromedia. It’s called personalization, filtering, aggregating, and so forth.

(2) Feeds. Rivers of news. Because browsing and search are less efficient. News is what’s happening, not what happened.

(3) People care about other people. They trust businesses and algorithms, but they trust humans more. We love our friends, our celebrities. We gossip about people with people.

(4) Distribution is cheap. Content is therefore abundant and largely commodified. Attention costs dominate production costs. Fame beats fortune.

These four guide posts, however, can get us far down the right path, but that’s for later.

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3 Responses to “The information architecture must fit”


  1. 1 Doc Searls 2008 September 22 at 4:10 pm

    Good points all.

    I would just add that “Everything is Miscellaneous” owes to David Weinberger, who deserves a link and a tag at least as much as the rest of us. :-)

    http://www.everythingismiscellaneous.com/

    Cheers,

    Doc

  2. 2 Doc Searls 2008 September 22 at 4:10 pm

    Arg. I missed the link. Ignore the above comment. Except for the first line.

    Duh,

    Doc

  3. 3 Joshua Young 2008 September 23 at 12:11 am

    Tag added! Thank you.

    Do you buy that the news itself would be more happily organized if its most basic functional units were its newsmakers and tags rather newspapers, articles, and headlines?


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