Monday, February 11, 2008

"'Experiment' has not traditionally been part of the print publishing vocabulary"

Scott Karp has a good roundup of three newspaper sites using his new Publish2 linking system to offer their readers links to bloggers and other news sources outside their walls. He focuses on the speed with which these newsfolks implemented his system, but I'd rather look at something else.

I think the examples Karp gives are a great manifestation of the "smart filter" argument I've been making with colleagues lately: As the Internet becomes an ever-increasing cacophony of voices, readers are looking more frequently towards smart filters--sites that simplify the choices by offering a series of links that have been selected not by algorithm but by people. 

And who better to offer those choices than editors, the people who have been making choices as their career?

Just look at how the Knoxville News was able to integrate a nice collection of related links to bloggers writing about a similar topic:

But, the counter argument goes, these are links outside of the news organization--why would we want to send readers away? Because sometimes you've got to send them away to have them come back.

That's actually the crux of the smart filter argument: If people see you as a good source for links--be it internal or external--they'll come back regularly. And if they don't--if they see you only as a source for walled-in information--they'll only visit when they think you'll have something to offer a much larger conversation. And since the current state of online news is as much about eyeball equity as anything else, having people come back and look to you as an authority and a source of information--whever that information may reside--is a good thing.