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A place for thought, progress, and dissent.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Open Sources

Of all the interesting things I've read this week, strangely I find this tops the list:

I just noticed on a BBC News story that The Beeb is including links to competitors' news stories on the same topic. The technology is nothing new, aggregate popular news sources and algorithmically select relevant stories, but the application is stunning.

Where Google News is just a collection of primary sources, BBC News is the primary source. What's more, they're linking directly to their competitors for free, and not expecting anything in return. BBC is opening up their business in a small, but significant way.

I expect that this will strengthen them as a source. How? First, their readers will have an easy way to see if BBC is the best source on a topic. If not, then they will hear about it, and find out what they are not covering well. Also, this will trickle down to the referenced sources, who will try to better compete with BBC.

Ok, ok. I realize this is all far-reaching thought, based on a small change. The point is, this is an impressive move. Can you imagine CNN or MSNBC or the New York Times doing this? Maybe it is different for the BBC because they are financed differently from the other media outlets. I don't think so, however. The BBC is good because it is consistent and real. Consistent in their quality of reporting, and real in the sense that they do not try to sensationalize news. If the US media every understands this second point, I'll go back to watching/listening/reading them. Also, we do pay for our media in the US, but through more indirect means (everything from the FCC to advertising).

Openness is key. Not just in software, but business models, government and news!


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