I recently had the opportunity to present at the Semantic Web meet-up in San Francisco along with Scott Waterman and Stuart Robinson – engineers from Powerset/Bing. The event is organized by Marco Neumann – a semantic web guru. You can view my presentation here: Three Challenges Publishers Face with the Realtime Web

The event was well received. Scott and Stuart explained natural language processing (Yes, I had to look that one up too!) while I closed the loop with an example of our work with Bing where we applied the use of semantics in a real simple consumer application with a revenue model behind it.

The main focus of my presentation was the real-time web and the challenges publishers face. I identified three key problem areas for publishers:

  1. Speed Expectations: With print, news was updated every 24 hours and we were fine with that. TV/Radio shrunk that time down to hours, several times a day. Because of the Internet and Twitter, our expectations are now seconds. There is a price for this speed – quality of the content could suffer because of our appetite for speed. Possible Solutions: Take a technology approach to news – Fwix is a good example. Use Dlvr.it to syndicate news as it’s published.
  2. Audience Fragmentation: There are thousands of sites today we can turn to for news and content updates – Digg, Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo! News, and on and on. Half of the traffic to news sites goes to sources below the top 100 news organizations. Not only that, there are numerous devices – TV, Radio, iPad, Kindle, iPhone, etc, all requiring a different format.  This could get costly for cash-strapped publishers to get their content into the right format.Possible Solutions: Think beyond the website. Embrace these new channels and figure out what your audience requires. You can no longer rely on your website as the only home for your content. Move the content out to where your audience is. Hire someone whose sole job is distribution.
  3. The Birth of the New Distributor:  Traditionally, news organizations controlled the distribution of their news. However, today you and I control it. We now have influence over our own networks and can determine what is hot or not when it comes to news and information. This is a dramatic shift. We are moving from one-to-many distribution to many-to-many. Publishers will be relying on fans and followers to help them disseminate their news. The consumer will amass large followings on Twitter, Facebook, etc that publishers will die to get access to.Possible Solutions: Understand the social graph. Participate in your ‘community.’ Embrace your audience as a source of news. Understanding their needs and get them involved.