Okay, so I go to Chicago for a few days last week and don't have much internet access, get a little backed up on my aggregator, and return to a lot of work in CA, only to find out that a bunch of people are really saying some very, very strange things.
It started with Silicon Valley Watcher who reported Peter Hirsberg's remarks at an event on 7/8/05. Peter apparently mentioned that Technorati would sell filtered blog data to companies interested in tracking themselves and their competitors. Of course, anyone can make free watchlists now, but these would be more sophisticated versions of those filters.
Um, my understanding is that Yahoo 'sells' search and filtering. And it makes money doing this. On its website, Yahoo search results showing freely available webpages are valuable because of the filter/search service that Yahoo provides, and those search filters allow them, in exchange for this service, to place ads next to their search results, thereby make them money. They don't share the profits with the makers of the matched sites. Or at least, Yahoo has never sent me a check for serving my content. Cause they ARE NOT selling content. They are selling a service for searching and filtering, and that IS salable.
You can't sell content online. If you do as a publisher, your content becomes unlinkable (see the Wall Street Journal for their *tremendous* online reach and participation in the conversation). You can't sell data like blog information because it's free already. You can sell services that help manage data and content, including filtering, search and aggregation. Service providers like Yahoo, Google, Technorati, Feedster, Pubsub, Bloglines, and many more, who offer free online services with less sophisticated search and filtering, ARE NOT selling data. They are selling convenience and management of data. And they don't owe us creators of free blog posts and websites for selling convenience by filtering our data. More sophisticated filtering and search, that is often highly customized, is a charge service. And providers of those services don't owe us a cut of that either. Because they ARE NOT selling data. It's the filtering and search services that matter.
Please read Information Rules again, where they explain why and how YOU CAN'T SELL CONTENT in the digital world, except in highly unusual circumstances but YOU CAN SELL THE MANAGEMENT of information.
Oh, and let me disclose here: I used to work for Technorati, and I am on the advisory board. I've also been critical of Technorati at times, but this time, I think they were the first to push this conversation out into the view of people, and were unfairly singled out for the 'selling of the blogosphere' which is a complete misnomer and totally inaccurate. But the reality is, lots of other companies before them have given away free services online with lower level customization, put ads next to them, and also sold highly customized services for special purposes to individuals. Technorati is no different, and is actually doing the right thing for the company and their ability to provide the free service in the long term. It is often the case in the digital world that free services are supported by the selling of premium services, and in this case paid filtering can support free filtering offered on the Technorati website.
Other folks that wrote about this include: Those linking to SVW and Doc links to a bunch here. Additionally, lots of other posting about the quality of Technorati's service appeared around the same time, which is a totally different issue, but somehow was conflated with the selling of filtering. I understand that folks think Technorati should make a good service before they start selling it, but it seems to me they are working on that, the service online is free, and no one is forced to use it. There are lots of other choices for finding similar data, and everyone is free to go to whatever site they wish. My own view is that I hold multiple search feeds from all the services, because they return different data on the same searches, based on their data models and databases. But that's a different issue as well, and maybe I should do a post on that, explaining who covers what, and how the results compare, as I've monitored all the services for the past 18 months.Posted by Mary Hodder at July 18, 2005 07:24 AM | TrackBack