Blueprinting the Information Valet Economy


Break-out rooms

Forum-style discussion

Small-group collaboration

Building a collaborative, shared-user network

A wrapup of the December 3-5, 2008 summit at the
Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute
Columbia, Missouri


More than 50 editors, writers, technologists, publishers, entrepreneurs, academics, researchers and students gathered Dec. 3-5, 2008 at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute a

t the Missouri School of Journalism. Their pre-arranged mission:invent a new way to sustain the role of journalism in participatory democracy. Their approach: Create a share
d-user web network for demographic privacy management, advertising and information commerce. (What’s that? See “Where we’re starting,” below.)


TION LINKS (and what others are saying) . . . . WATCH VIDEO ARCHIVES

They shared ideas and advised RJI fellows on how to start the Information Valet Economy, where companies compete to provide personalized service to users,

and make money referring their users to
content — and advertising — from anywhere. The service might coordinate next-generation advertising placement and compensation, consumer-centric demographic management (and privacy) and multi-site commerce — all designed to sustain journalism and providing new value to traditional print news subscribers.
Follow the links below to learn who participated, where we started, what we discussed, and what happens next. Join or read the InfoValet interest group, or send an email to to participate.


The U.S. news industry struggles as print advertising moves elsewhere and web advertising’s double-digit growth sputters. The industry can now rethink and relaunch its relationship with 50 million customers — to become their “information valet” able to make money whether those users are buying services, information (including music and entertainment) or being paid for web seeking and contact with sponsored messages and advertising.

  • Consumers want a customized experience, but want to control and be compensated for use of demographic and usage profiles.
  • The Internet needs a user-focused system for sharing identity, exchanging and settling value (including payments), for digital information. The system should allow multiple “Information Valets” to compete for and serve customers with varied topical interests and appetites for demographic sharing. It needs a New(s) Social Network.

Who we are: The participants

Who came Dec. 3-5 to Columbia, Mo.?]

Faces: Documenting the discussions, and the spaces

Jeff VanderClute: A first cut at synthesis

Steve Mott: For newspapers: Three sources of value at stake

Elizabeth Osder: Tech development or trade initiative?

  • Elizabeth Osder discusses the loss of value on both sides if the equation, and whether IVP is a tech development or a trade association.

Bill Densmore: Lead RJI researcher on IVP

Bill Densmore is a 2008-2009 Reynolds Journalism Institute Fellow working to define, document and rally public support for building a new Internet infrastructure that will sustain news and information through a shared-user network. (MORE ABOUT) The network will allow online users to manage their demographic privacy, be rewarded for viewing advertising, and share, sell and buy content through multiple Web sites with one ID, password, account and bill. (SEE: PDF download, fellowship proposal)

Lee Wilkins: Privacy research

Missouri School of Journalism Prof. Lee Wilkins is overseeing a national survey on how the public values privacy in exchange for services or benefits. Read the literature review.

Where we’re starting

What is the Information Valet Project?

  • A one-page description of the Information Valet Project at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism. (READ MORE)

AUDIO: Short talks on the concept and design

  • Choose from streaming or MP3 podcast audio discussions which describe the concept, design, purpose and research contributing to the Information Valet Project. (FLASH ANIMATION)

What was on the agenda?

  • Over an evening, a full day and a morning, the informal networking was as important as the program, and the program was flexible. Review the pre-meeting agenda to get a sense of the domain for our interactions.

Tweet, chat, web wiki — the convening resources

What did we discuss?

Establishing common language: What is the IVP?

Form of ownership: The co-op or L3c?

  • Having established a common language of purpose, we asked: Who could own the Information Valet Service and what form might that take? We turned to help from attorney Tom Moody, a Vermont attorney, (who visited with us via a Skype teleconference) and the Vermont L3C statute. We also consider the possibility of cooperative ownership. Ultimately, we decided form and ownership would need to wait until we understood the stakeholders and their needs.

Sorting out the stakeholder: Needs and questions

  • On Thursday, we broke into three task groups to study the needs of potential IVP takeholders. We asked a lot of questions and as a result started to understand the markets, technologies and relationships we should master. The task groups had questions about business models, legal, corporate, marketing, ownership, content, syndication, advertising, privacy, demographics, and identity. This all sugared down to a series of conceptual bulletpoints.

Throughout the day, Chuck Peters live-blogged.

Friday gets specific: A laundry list of actions, tasks

  • By Friday morning, it was time to get specific. Ideas for action included fostering collaboration between bloggers and MSM, fleshing out details of content management, nailing down a business-development strategy, and building “user personas.” We we urged to pick a small, doable piece and start experimenting, to cooperate with The AP and to get specific about what consumers would get for sharing demographics.

What happens next?

What is your privacy worth to you: A study

Making the list of components, collaborators

THE PLAN: Bullet-pointed tasks in seven areas

Collaborations percolating

  • By Dec. 7, two days after “Blueprinting the Information Valet Economy,” ended, it’s too early to say how fast things will happen. Two participants agreed to help with the business plan, another has already made a proposal for significant collaboration with RJI. To follow developments, bookmark the Information Valet blog, join or read the InfoValet interest group, or send an email to to participate.

The bottom line: Is this of interest?

  • After nearly two days, is this of interest? That’s the question we posed to four active traditional media executives who had joined us. Read what they said.