The New York Times and other news organizations have been hampered by the short cuts of HTML and hyperlinks, but are now reclassifying to provide more structured, fluid data in a major development with massive implications, notes New York Times VP of Research Operations Michael Zimbalist, who keynoted Day 2 at ILM East. The benefits are immediate in terms of SEO, but longer term, provider richer product for consumers, notes Zimbalist.
“Information has become increasingly granular or structured,” notes Zimbalist. Each unit of content has extensive machine readable metadata about itself.” Fluid information can move more easily among machines and people.
In the case of The New York Times can now process the 300 pieces of professional content that it produces every day — a brick of compiled information — into multiple formats, including things such as personal editions and slide shows. “You are reaching underneath the databases the power the Web to do new things,” says Zimbalist.
The key is to move the surplus of names to strong identifiers that are linking to data cloud driven bymeta data. The Times, for instance is embarking on moving all its data to DBpedia, which drives Wikipedia, Freebase, which is owned by Google, and GeoNames.
To date, 29,000 names have been recontextualized for a new semantic platform – a “super librarian “ –, which includes 39 percent of people (“Edgar Allen Poe”) , 31 percent of organizations, 76 percent of locations (“Park Slope”and 14 percent of descriptions. “The future is bright for librarians,” jokes Zimbalist.
Michael Zimbalist, who runs R&D at The New York Times Co., told Inman Real Estate Connect attendees in San Francisco yesterday that the rise of social networks has spearheaded a very real shift from “the paradigm of publishing to the paradigm of communicating.”
“The consumer is squarely at the center,” said Zimbalist, noting that there are now more global users of social networks than even email. “Time spent using email has completely flattened out.”
The new paradigm has lead to a change in overall behavior, with users now active creators of content. “Every minute, 20 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube,” he said. Mobile is also integrated into everything.
The implications for the publishing and software industries are that they have to plan for multi-purpose devices and services and incredibly rapid innovation. “We are seeing a Cambrian explosion of evolution,” said Zimbalist. Many things are coming up, and some don’t make it.
Features that have been seized upon include search with voice, location, image recognition, multi touch, augmented reality and “gestural navigation” such as WII game devices. To stay abreast, it is critical that publishers and software producers work to sync everything at all times.
Regarding the iPad, Zimbalist took note of an audience member’s disappointment with The New York Times initial iPad app, which is just a “best of” product (I like it, actually). A new premium version will come out soon. Addressing rumors that it will be priced as much as $360 a year, Zimbalist only joked that users will “definitely pay more” than they do for The Wall Street Journal iPad app.