Thursday, 20 May 2010

The Guardian Open Platform - from 'Publisher to Platform'

I was lucky enough to be able to attend this morning's commercial launch of the Guardian's Open Platform - a brave new step that sees the Guardian website turning 'from publisher to platform' by offering developers and advertisers the chance to tap into / build with the Guardian Content API, Data Store, Politics API and micro app framework.

The world has changed and newspaper businesses are having to change too. However, rather than move to the pay-wall model that various newspaper sites are starting to adopt, the Guardian are doing the complete opposite - opening up their content for anyone to use. The Guardian are the first major news site to offer all content to developers / the public at large through APIs and the new Open Platform frees Guardian content from the confines of the main Guardian site - Open Platform facilitates Guardian content travelling across the web.

The philosophical battle lines are clearly being drawn - Open and Free vs Closed and Paid For.

The Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger stated at this year's Cudlipp Lecture:

"Our most interesting experiments lie in combining what we know with the experience, opinions and expertise of the people who want to participate rather than passively receive."

........and this comment is borne out of just some of the interesting editorial successes of the past 12 months. The willingness of readers to participate and collaborate in the editorial process has resulted in innovative angles on a number of stories - harnessing user power to decipher the MPs expenses files, social media protests assisting the Guardian in over-turning the Trafigura injunction, sourcing explosive video content through Twitter and bringing users into the unravelling of a (controversial and) complicated story around tax.

No-one can be sure what will happen as a result of offering Open Platform commercially, however this has not been something that the Guardian have rushed into. Open Platform has had 18 months of development and testing, whilst at the same time the Guardian have been developing vertical ad networks and a whole ecosystem of support and complementary offerings.

Just 'giving away' quality content may be anathema to many, but if opening up content commercially provokes the same kind of response that opening up content to readers has had, then the Guardian may be onto something. When your content is your brand, then giving it the opportunity to travel all around the web by offering it to developer and advertiser communities will undoubtedly increase attention for the Guardian overall. It's worth remembering that the explosive growth experienced by both Facebook and iPhone was in no small part due to the efforts of the development community who were given access to the platforms and licence to experiment with the relevant APIs.......

In the spirit of being Open, the slides from the Guardian Open Platform launch have been uploaded to SlideShare and can be viewed below:
Full information about Guardian Open Platform can be found here: www.guardian.co.uk/open-platform

and YouTube videos introducing the Open Platform and the new Guardian initiative 'Extra' can be found here and here (though 'Embedding Disabled by Request' seems to go against the idea of everything else discussed today!!!!!)

So is this a game changer and will other newspaper publishers follow? Personally, I think this is a hugely exciting intiative with great potential - I can't wait to see what people build around the data sets and content that is now available.

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