I just attended 2 great days at the FOWA London 09 conference. I must say that @ryancarson and his team really made the 2 days worthwile. Apart from the wifi problems on day 1, I thought that the panel of speakers, the length of each talk and the general atmosphere at the event were really good. There was also a tweeter based sytem called Hello which enabled all participants to say who they were so that you could visualise who was sitting where as you can see on the image above. One of the highlights of these 2 days for me was the presentation by Chris Thorpe from The Guardian. Chris described The Guardian’s approach to the disruption which is affecting all newspapers worldwide with the advent of digital forms of communication and participation and the bi-directionality that this is causing where all of us can become creators and distributors of information. There are 3 approaches newspapers can have here : ignore, control or embrace. The Guardian is clearly embracing the latter in each of the 4 building blocks of the newspaper industry : creation, fabrication, distribution and monetisation. The Guardian’s strategy here is one of what Chris Thorpe calls mutualisation. The idea is to take advantage of the bi-directionality that digital forms bring about by bringing together different external parties in each of the 4 building blocks referred to above. For example, mutualisation in the creation area is what Chris calls co-creation where both The Guardian journalists and the individual take part in creating unique content. He presented a great example with the g20 events in London where the combined efforts of professional journalism and amateur video footage brought about more informative and objective coverage of the event. In the areas of fabrication and distribution, The Guardian is opening up its platform so as to make it as easy as possible for developers to think of new applications which can disseminate The Guardian’s content (read here articles and datasets mainly) in many different ways. It is as if you were opening up the car hood of a given car maker and enabling any driver to come up with new ways of making it a faster, safer, greener car for example. The main difference here is that the threshold of doing this for the average individual is much lower for influencing digital text media than it is for a car… Less clear was how mutualisation was going to fit in the monetisation block. In the co-creation model talked above, how do you mutualise i.e. share the revenue brought about the joint effort of a blogger and the professional journalist. How do you measure the weights of each in the piece of news which has been produced? How do apps which weave The Guardian’s content into other forms of content get retributed? These questions will need economically balanced and fair answers in order for the co-model Chris Thorpe discusses to be successful.