Brave New (Writing) World: New Ways of Doing Old Things

One of the librarians at my day job regularly sends around links to new online tools and publishing developments that she thinks might be of interest to reporters and editors. She’s sharp, so I try to look at what she sends when I have a bit of time.

I must admit, though, that I found a couple of sites she sent around last week rather hard slogging. Part of the problem was that the text material was a transcript of video, and no one had bothered to edit it for easier reading, so there were clumsy sentences that probably made more sense if you were watching and listening.

But I think my real problem was the title:

Online Content Monetization

Not that I’m objecting to the idea that people should get paid for their work — not at all! And I certainly think we need to talk about the various ways for people to get paid.

No, it’s just the buzzword term “content monetization.” Why not just say “getting paid”?

Still, I slogged through “Online Content Monetization: Critical Viewpoints From George Siemens And Gerd Leonhard,” followed a few links, and came across some good concepts.

Here’s one I really liked: guidelines for fair syndication, from the Fair Syndication Consortium. Essentially, what they are doing is coming up with ways to compensate people when others use their material — a kind of after-the-fact syndication payment or attribution, instead of a take-down notice. One such project, started by the Consortium, is Attributor, which searches out unauthorized use of your content, and then helps you negotiate a deal with the website that’s using it so that you can get a share of any income it brings in to them.
The Attributor folks describe their goal this way:
We’re motivated by the prospect of a thriving online content economy in which content is shared openly and spread freely, with an infrastructure that supports and fairly compensates content owners and creators.

I think that’s a goal we can all share. And they’ve even got a beta version free service where you can try it out. I think they’re also charging for more complex services; I didn’t find any price quotes on the site, but there are contact forms for people seeking more information.

Another idea I came across in these pages was “content curation,” which, even though it’s a fancy word for “editing,” has a much nicer ring to it than “content monetization.” One of the leaders in this field is a guy named Rohit Bhargava, who has described a content curator as a person  “who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content on a specific issue online.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the ideas of Craig Mod. One of the points he made that interested me was that a positive effect of digital books will be “A rise in the importance of editors.” I was curious about why he thought that would happen, so I emailed him. In reply, he said he thought the “editorial direction” skills of the big publishing houses would become their main value, rather than the current production and distribution system.

But then he raised the idea of editor in the larger sense of “someone who curates,” and said, “As information increases, the value of having well-curated subsets of that greater information whole becomes increasingly strong.”

I like the way Mod puts it, perhaps because I know he is thinking about more creative content than that referred to in the more business-oriented posts. After all, our “content” here on Book View Cafe is fiction, not market analysis, and the value we add is storytelling.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to make some money from it. Storytellers need to eat, too.


Nancy Jane’s novella, Changeling, is now being serialized on Book View Cafe. You can start at Chapter 1 here; a new chapter will be posted every Sunday. An e-book edition of the whole book will soon be available for a modest price.

And you can still find 51 flash fictions and a few other stories on Nancy Jane’s Bookshelf.


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