Scripting News: Time for a Hulu-for-News?

A picture named houseOfCards.gifOn February 5, I wrote a piece called House of News, in which I suggested that the news industry might do a recalc along the lines of the one Netflix did, in deciding to give its users all the episodes of House of Cards, at once — instead of emulating the old TV serial distribution system, the one that existed before the net.

They did something remarkable, Netflix did — that most companies can’t seem to do. They viewed the world through the eyes of their users. And decided simply to give them exactly what they wanted.

I wrote that piece before we knew that Google Reader would be shutting down in July.

What we don’t know is why Google shut it down. But one possible reason is that they are trying to give the news industry what it wants, and in doing so, not only not giving the users what they want, but willfully throwing out the work of the users, in building their own distribution system for news.

As hobbled as Google Reader was, it was largely a creation of its users. They did the programming for themselves. They chose what channels of news they wanted to listen to, assembling a highly customized news flow and sharing their discoveries.

If I could say one thing to the the execs of the news industry, it would be this. Stop viewing today through the lens of the past. View it from the point of view of the future. Look back to today and imagine how you could get to the future we all know is coming. And when you do that, I think you’ll see that it’s time for something new and Netflix-like. A news system where the users have even more power to shape the news that they will receive from you.

It’s long-past time to trust the users and just do what they want you to do. You will probably be surprised at how profitable that turns out to be. Imho of course.

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About Dave Winer

Dave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.
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