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Executive Report - By Thomas Baekdal - March 2012

How Publishers Are Missing The Point About Aggregation

They are two completely different forms of aggregation. One is content aggregation, which is basically theft of other people's work and traffic. The other is link aggregation which is about promoting original articles. Don't confuse the two.

You might have noticed all the fuss in recent weeks over news aggregation. It is caused by a new site, the Curators Code, which is trying to promote a common standard for curation and aggregation, but just like everyone else, they seem to completely miss what aggregation means in the connected world.

But before we get to why this is, I want to point your attention to something else. In Europe we now have the anti-cookie law. With it, it will soon be illegal for sites to set a cookie without first asking for permission.

This is bonkers. It means you cannot do any form of useful analysis (you can only measure per-visit activity), and you cannot make your site easier to use from one browser session to the next.

The reason why this particular train-wreck happened was because the arguments for and against cookies where too polarized. On the one side we had companies clearly engaging in questionable activity trying to defend their use of cookies, and on the other we had the privacy hooligans, who claimed that all cookies were bad because they had the *potential* to do harm (but everything always has the *potential*).

So the clueless politicians, who seem to have no idea about how the internet works, agreed with the privacy hooligans and outlawed all cookies - instead of just the bad ones.

And we have seen this again and again. Back in 2002 (I think), the politicians in this country added a 250% tax on all rewritable CDs. Because the music labels had convince them that just because you had the *potential* for copying a CD, it automatically meant that all CDs was used for pirating content.

It's like outlawing the car, just because a few idiots are drunk drivers. It just makes no sense.

Note: This article is about publishers versus news aggregators. I'm writing another article about brands versus news aggregators (which is a bit more complicated).

What does this have to do with news aggregation?

What we are seeing with news aggregation is exactly the same trend that led to the anti-cookie law.

On one side we have the content thieves. The sites that are obviously stealing other people's content and traffic - and there are a lot of them out there. Anything from content sites that basically copy/paste content from news sites (and other blogs), to businesses based on the concept of getting people to share other people's content. Recently Pinterest comes to mind, but Tumblr is not far behind.

On the other side we have old media companies, who don't like the idea of having their content stolen by 'the internet' and is waging war against the news aggregators.

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What is Baekdal?

Baekdal is a magazine for media professionals, focusing on media analysis, trends, patterns, strategy, journalistic focus, and newsroom optimization. Since 2010, it has helped publishers in more than 40 countries, including big and small publishers like Condé Nast, Bonnier, Schibsted, NRC, and others, as well as companies like Google and Microsoft.

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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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