Brave News World

(by christoph burgdorfer)

Timeframe: 2 to 5 years from now.

A couple of days ago, Google launched its new service "Google Reader" which is basically a RSS aggregator. I do not think, this is a coincidence. I believe that Google has realized that at some point, everybody will use his personal news feeds to get informed rather than just checking up a few news sources on a regular base. This will lead into a weakening of the current information sources' positions and support the possibility to get a wider variety and more independent opinions on topics of interest.

The way most of us read the news today has a long tradition. It originated in the 15th Century with the invention of the printing with movable letters by Johannes Gutenberg. Since then, the format has not much changed, we still get the newspapers printed out black on grey paper. At some point, there were pictures, then they became colorful, but let's face it, that doesn't make much of a difference, does it?

The invention of TV and Radio also shaped our perception of the world. News have become more time-dependent, more instant and more transient.

The strong demand for news has accelerated the broadening of the spectrum of the news. Nowadays, we have magazines for all sorts of topics. From modeling through to mountaineering. From gambling through to gaming. But it goes even further. Currently, we find ourselves in a time, where a network such as the web happens to be discovered as a suitable medium not only to publish, but to reach a potentially wide public. Weblogs allow anybody to become a publisher. And since there are no restrictions and hardly any regulations, anyone can basically write about anything. A key feature of networked publishing is the possibility and the habit to connect sources with each other. Any word can be a potential reference to another source.

A further key feature about networked publishing are so called RSS (Really Simple Syndication, RDF Site Summary or Rich Site Summary) feeds. The amount of the current news sources is so immense, nobody will ever be able to keep up with the torrents of news. So the RSS feeds turn out to be very suitable short summaries of a news source.

At one point in the future, you will find out, that there are simply too many news sources that interest you. So you will have to subscribe to the RSS feeds, only to be able to keep track with the news. Within the feeds, you will pick the news articles, that interest you and aggregate them to a personalized news-site that just fits your personal interests. Will this be the dawn of the age of complete personalization and the downfall of protection of data privacy?

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