Throwing streamers at revolutionaries


I am a bit late to this (well 3 and a bit weeks – though there seems to have been surprisingly little coverage in the Marketing and media press). Particularly bearing in mind I could lean out of one of the agency windows, and even with my useless throwing arm, hit the windows of the Guardian’s offices. Not with a stone you understand, but perhaps more appropriately a streamer.

Rupert Murdoch’s pay-wall approach to online newspapers, particularly bearing in mind his comment in 2006 in Wired, seems even more Luddite in the context of this Guardian initiative.

“To find something comparable , you have to go back 500 years to the printing press, the birth of mass media….technology is shifting power away from the editors, the publishers, the establishment, the media elite. Now it’s the people who are taking control”.

After 18 months of development and experimentation, the Guardian are doing the complete opposite to News International – opening up their content for anyone to use. The Guardian are the first major news site to offer all content to developers / the public at large through APIs and the new Open Platform frees Guardian content from the limits of the main Guardian site.

This follows on the back of their success at harnessing user power to decipher the MPs expenses files, and numerous examples of where the willingness of readers to and collaborate in the editorial process has resulted in innovative story angles.
Add to this the track record of the iPhone and Facebook (to name just 2 examples) when they opened up their API, and it seems that the Guardian might be more in tune with where things are headed. The opportunity for the Guardian’s content and hence its brand to spread across the web, particularly when others are walling theirs in, should also work in their favour. Who knows, just as Mr Cameron and his colleagues have been able to take on some liberal values, maybe some of the readers of Rupert’s quality brands may find themselves warming to the Guardian, particularly with its wider visibility to them.

For more detail go to the Guardian’s Open Platform site, and there’s a blog post about the launch from Matt McAlister the projects lead developer here and a range of comments and perspectives here and here.

The opportunity is now for clients and agencies (and particularly creative agencies) to grasp this nettle (because it’s bound to get a bit itchy for some).

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