An opportunity for the AP

It helps to recognize that the is exactly what its name denotes: an association of presses. Specifically, newspapers. Fifteen hundred of them. Needless to say, newspapers are having a hard time. (Hell, I gave them some, myself, yesterday.) So we might cut them a little slack for getting kinda testy and paranoid.

Reading the AP’s paranoid jive brings to mind Jim Clark on stage at the first (only?) Netscape conference. Asked by an audience member why he said stuff about Microsoft that might have a “polarizing effect”, Jim rose out of his chair and yelled at the questioner, “THEY’RE TRYING TO KILL US. THAT HAS A POLARIZING EFFECT!” I sometimes think that’s the way the AP feels toward bloggers. Hey, when you’re being eaten alive, everything looks like a pirhana.

But last week the AP, probably without intending it, did something cool. You can read about it in “Associated Press to build news registry to protect content“, a press release that manages to half-conceal some constructive open source possibilities within a pile of prose that seems mostly to be about locking down content and tracking down violators of AP usage policies. Ars Technica unpacks some of the possibilities. Good piece.

Over in Linux Journal I just posted AP Launches Open Source Ascribenation Project, in which I look at how the AP’s “tracking and tagging” technology, which is open source, can help lay the foundations for a journalistic world where everybody gets credit for what they contribute to the greater sphere of news and comment — and can get paid for it too, easily — if readers feel like doing that.

The process of giving credit where due we call , and the system by which readers (or listeners, or viewers) choose to pay for it we call .

Regardless of what we call it, that’s where we’re going to end up. The system that began when the AP was formed in 1846 isn’t going to go away, but it will have to adapt. And adopt. It’s good to see it doing the latter. The former will be harder. But it has to be done.

I’d say more here, but I already said it over there.

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  1. Russell Nelson’s avatar

    My son points me to this amusement: (SFW unless your workplace is at the AP, in which case I wouldn’t want to be the first person to be caught opening it.)

  2. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Russ, that is funny as shit. I just added a link to it at the end of the piece at LJ. In fact, as we work on ListenLog and EmanciPay, it’ll be fun to keep this graphic in mind. Maybe even leverage it in a fun way.

  3. lurkerfan’s avatar


    Doc, I know you are friends with Britt Blaser, whose blog I check once in a blue moon because he is a very interesting writer. When I checked today, I got a message that the site was blocked as an attack site, apparently by Google. My hubby and I have recently experienced malicious sw attacks on our computers, and it’s quite possibly Britt has also, without knowing it. As our computers were still functional, we were not aware until we attempted to help someone else who had been invaded to the point of being unable to do anything.

    I know you’re a busy guy but you might want to let him know.

  4. Doc Searls’s avatar

    I just sent Britt a note. And a text. Hope he fixes it soon.

  5. Ben’s avatar

    Haha, too true, when you’re being eaten alive, everything looks like a pirhana. I’m glad things are changing though. Being able to leave writers comments and feedback is way more interesting that reading a static piece of paper everyday.

  6. Aram ZS’s avatar

    I have to say, I think you are way off base. This system is not even functional ( except in the sense that it is trying to get the AP more money. The whole organization is desperately trying to maintain a foothold in an industry that is surrounded by tools which make it irrelevant.

    I wouldn’t trust the AP to build any sort of copy management system. They are only interested in self-preservation.

  7. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Well, the old saying is, “When you’ve got lemons, make lemonade.” That’s where I was going with the Linux Journal piece.

    What I’m hoping is that the AP will fund work by geeks who will produce the building material we need to work around them.

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