Friday, November 18, 2005

Anyone creating „The Blog Street Journal“?

More and more of what I read every day is delivered digitally (blogs, newspaper sites). I’m sure it’s the same for most of you. Heck, I even cancelled the subscription of my daily. It’s old news when I’m getting it anyway, and for in-depth stories I have my weeklies and monthlies. And of course for many topics I’m interested in, the blogosphere is where the action is anyway.

Still, reading a newspaper on paper is a more pleasurable experience than reading news on screen, at least for me. If an article is more than one page long, most of the times I’ll print it. That probably won’t change until screen resolutions come much closer to print resolutions. When screens become lighter and more flexible that will help to.

What I’d love to subscribe to is a daily, printed edition of the best posts from the blogs I read. A bit like a printed Findory, but even more tailored to my interests. A smart attention engine like TailRank would be required to find out the most interesting postings from thousands of postings from hundreds of feeds. Digital on-demand printing has become cheap enough, see NewspaperDirect or this new company there.

Even if this is perfectly executed, a big question remains. Is blog content suitable for the paper format?

  • Lack of hyperlinks. Blogs make particularly heavy use of hyperlinking to other blogs and other resources. Not being able to go to these links with one click would be a big downside.
  • Human intelligence. Attention engines will be great for pre-selecting postings (getting it down from thousands to hundreds) but I don’t know if they will work well enough to get the selection down to a number of postings that fits into a newspaper.
  • Time lag. Do the advantages of the paper format outweigh the delay of around 24 hours on average between publishing and reading?

If anyone builds The Blog Street Journal, it will never replace real-time blog reading. It could be a great addition though. Let me know what you think!

P.S.: Somewhere in between reading blogs the usual way and The Blog Street Journal would be a service that creates a nice-looking PDF out of your favourite blog content. If the user rates how well the postings were selected, the results could become constantly better over time. The whole job of getting the content, creating the PDF and sending it to the printer could be done automatically, of course. So you would find your latest Blog Street Hourly in your printer’s output tray every hour.

P.P.S.: Even if none of these ideas ever become reality, maybe this is at least the future of newspaper delivery? Printing a newspaper and shipping it hundreds of miles to the customer, only to have the customer throw away 90% of the newspaper (because I never read the sports section, for example) doesn’t seem very clever, does it?


Anonymous said...

Substitute 'Weekly' for 'Daily' and the idea can be executed immediately. Don't think WSJ, think Time Magazine.

Christoph Janz said...

Thanks for your comment. I think you're right!