The WINKsite folks have created mobile versions of some Creative Commons licensed content. I find the whole pattern very interesting, especially now that I’m helping out with the Ourmedia project. As was spoken about at the Online News Association conference, many people see the future of online media as being much different than it was in the offline world. The President and CEO of the Associated Press said:
You have to let the content flow where the users want to go, and attach your brand - and maybe advertising and e-commerce - to those free-flowing ‘atoms’.
That’s what Ourmedia is attempting to do with rich media such as video and computer animation, allow users to release their content under the constraints they choose without having to go through the traditional channel. The WINKsite guys are working on the same kinds of problems. How does someone producing content allow that information to flow out to the mobile network? That’s the valuable question to have answered. Not staking out a particular set of content and trying to control when and where it can be seen, but figuring out all the ways that a user might want to use your information and being there to answer their needs. Most of the attention here in the US is on the standard Internet usages of RSS and blogging. But I’m pretty sure that mobile isn’t very far behind at all.
It’s important that changes such as transforming the news media (if that’s really what is happening) are as much about changing perceptions as they are about changing technology. Many of the technologies that have driven the current “revolution” in blogging have been around for a while. Blogging itself has been around for a while. It took getting them in the hands of the right people with the right set of motiviations to set the changes in motion. And that’s as much about people understand the new medium as much as it is about tools evolving the technologies maturing. It will take a while still for most people to follow through on the microcontent revolution, if they ever do. And once people break out of the thought patterns associated with the existing media structures and start to understand that they can shape their interactions online, questions about “can I get that on my phone?” won’t be far behind. Sony Ericsson sees the world of online information services spreading out to mobiles via RSS. And AOL is apparently also interested in delivery to handsets. It’s definitely not just a dream any more, people are seeing real use for this pattern of interaction. And it’s not just the geeks asking for it. When AOL shows up, you can be pretty sure they think it’s going mainstream.