I got a kick out of how much of an Editor and Publisher‘s article on Associated Press’s plan to set standards regarding web blog excerpts was itself excerpted text. By my guess, three-quarters of the article by “America’s Oldest Journal Covering the Newspaper Industry” are excerpts, quotes, paraphrasing, and attributions.
Excerpting is a good thing. Excerpting accurately what others wrote and said is core to journalism. It is also core to transparency. Excerpting is not new.
But our communication tools are new. They afford new possibilities and new efficiencies. New practices and conventions are inevitable and are better embraced than fought against to preserve old business models.
In a print world, every text is an island painstakingly [type] set unto itself. In a networked digital world, text is energy that can be combined and recombined easily with other forms of energy, sent instantly anywhere in the world and morphed into different forms. Mike Wesh offers articulates viscerally of what is happening in The Machine is Us/ing Us.
The Associated Press responding to the broad excerpting of its articles on the web by wanting to control it too much risks acting typically for a legacy organization trying to stop or limit new activity as a way of preserving old business model rather than seeing new opportunity. New standards are best developed by embracing freedoms. People link because they want to share and give credit where credit is due. I bet people would even be happy to share compensation if only that sharing was as easy as making a link or embedding content. Will the AP try to stuff the genie of bloggers using their content back into the bottle or will the AP start thinking about the best way to co-opt the genie for a few wishes? YouTube catapulted itself to household status by embracing easy embedding and forever expanded who and what was part of the video-nation conversation. And YouTube’s bugs around unauthorized video clips are getting worked out. Someone will figure out how to monetize new opportunities afforded by all this broad excerpting.