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Friday, March 20, 2009


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The Browser
the world in a window

Karl Pearson-Cater

Thanks for putting this incredible outline together. You've really done your homework! Kudos.

Dan Woog

Superb analysis. And, of course, we're all reading it online, not in a newspaper. Because we want to follow all the links, respond quickly, and forward it far and wide. That says it all.


Good stuff. Incidentally, Calais offers a feature called Tagaroo which works with WordPress blogs by analyzing the text and suggesting tags for metadata. Very nice. I've added it to my WP widgets collection. It works!

Chuck Peters

Dan -

Thank you so much. You have very capably given us a great overview of the intellectual framework, necessary activities and technical infrastructure needed to successfully pursue our C3-Complete Community Connection efforts.



Wow - blow my mind (or blog my mind)! Amazing compendium of ideas outlining the future of journalism, pulls no punches, no half-measures. We're in for a radical transformation of information access and distribution, and this business is at the vanguard (or in the cross hairs) if it can only move beyond the 20th century.

Account Deleted

This is one of the best, most-detailed, thoroughly supported predictive essays I've seen. Well done.

Abe Abreu

Dan, I've been thinking about this stuff so long it's pouring out my ears. My team and I have written multiple executive summaries on this, and we have not come close to this level of congruent thinking and communication. I plan to liberally lace your ideas into the next version of presentation I create - and credit you, of course.

I'd love to engage in some carbon-based communication, if you'd like.

Thanks so much,

Abe Abreu
CEO e-Me Ventures


This is brilliant - thank you!


One thing I've noticed over the years: The conversation ABOUT blogs, which used to take place in comments, has increasingly moved elsewhere. Here's a round-up of commentary on this post that I've collected from that dispersed conversation (re-Tweets and mentions without comment not listed):

@JamesEstrin: Another future of newspapers theory on Xark!- Pretty detailed -short version news survives

@blawtonnaa: RT - XARK's 2020 Vision: What's Next for News... Interesting thoughts on what will happen "after the fire (2009-10)

@Typist: smart, practical guesses

@markbriggs: Xark has a great forecast on the future

@gmarkham: Deep, interesting predictions on what's next for journalism/media from Dan at Xark

@Wildcat2030: "Xark!: 2020 vision: What's next for news" most inclusive a definite interesting

@ptaillandier: Very interesting tks

@jayrosen_nyu: What's next in news? ...you need vision, and links to the emergent. Dan Conover (@xarker) has both. Recommended.

@jny2: Want to take an exhilarating stroll down a still-futuristic memory lane? Check this out from @xarker... So old and so new!

@jny2: The shaky premise doing the work for @xarker: Finding signal is the process of finding true relevant facts among true irrelevant facts.

@jny2: Via @xarker, point IV. 8. http://bit.ly/twF1H (expand) As data become available, value of verification decreases, and value of analysis increases

@rhine: Nicely done, esp. the section on The New Exotics. 2, 3, 5, 6, all very good points.

@seanpowell: Good read

@tarheel360vr: @xarker ----> What's ahead for newsprint, new media & journalism. Bring hip boots. It's gonna be deep.

@johnrobinson: It's a great piece. Don't agree with all, but it is smart, well-sourced and most likely pretty accurate. Wish I had written it.

@KristineLowe: great summary on 1st skim thru, should make good wknd reading

@Chanders: @ckrewson curious as to how a relatively grounded in-the-biz guy like you reacts to the xark! 2020 post. Love? Hate? Useless, amazing?

@Chanders It's a good post. Generally I'm a fan of folks who try to figure out what happens next, because I want good journalism around.

Chuck Peters, from the highly innovative C3 program in Cedar Rapids: "For the best overview of the intellectual framework, activities and technical infrastructure needed to make C3 work, see Dan Conover’s wonderful piece at Xark on 2020 Vision."

Media consultant Mark Potts at "Recovering Journalist": "But trumping them both, in a much more constructive fashion, is an even smarter look forward by Dan Conover in the Xark blog at what may come to be, replete with an excellent laundry list of predictions...

"Maybe if we could harness all of the energy being spent arguing about whether professional journalists are still relevant (they are, but not in the ways we currently know them), whether newspapers are doomed (they are, at least the larger ones) and whether they can be replaced (yes, but the replacements will be much more complicated and sophisticated, as Conover hints), we could spend more time trying to bring the good ideas of Conover, Jeff Jarvis and others to life."

@cpetersia @xarker Trying to tell everyone I know about 2020 Vision! Great work that will help frame our discussions. Thanks, Chuck

@cpetersia Digesting great framework, activities and technology for C3, thanks to @xarker @annetteschulte @stevebuttry

@DIOpinions @xarker Indeed. Many of Kurzweil's predictions are extreme, but he seems very credible in the realm of electronic media.

@DIOpinions @xarker Your 2020 vision post (http://is.gd/oblK) seems to build on some of Kurzweil's ideas (http://is.gd/oltU).

@annetteschulte @xarker on the future of news biz: Successes of 2012 will be swept away by 2020.

Martin Langeveld at Harvard's Neiman Journalism Lab: "Thinking the thinkable: Dan Conover’s vision for the future of journalism":

"But the revolutionaries do have some pretty good ideas, which Shirky doesn’t explore. And Dan Conover at Xark! lays them out in a masterful post called '2020 vision: What’s next for news...'

"These are assumptions most of us have made, but Conover’s vision extends to what will shape journalism beyond the short term. Like Shirky, he says “nobody knows what that shape will be”, but he offers dozens of ideas on what the components will be. It would not be fair to summarize; you just have to go read it, but I’ll tell you what I liked particularly:" (Go read this excellent post to see what he's talking about)

This post was one of 12 referenced in Jay Rosen's "Flying Seminar" on the future of news, which he referenced on Twitter and others amplified. The links are collected

Here's Chuck Taylor (Dude! I used to wear your shoes!) from the Seattle Post-Times:

"This thoroughly linked outline of what might happen as newspapers continue to decline in influence is one of the most-detailed and likely prescient things I've seen."

@renofish: "Links in Xark piece have some value" was my comment.

@marypathyland: @paulhyland Thanks for the great Xark link on journalism's future. Ex-journo, myself. P.S. Nice surname

@ljthornton: (fixed typo) Hearing this a lot today: newspaper ad depts don't push Web ads. See item III(2) in 2020 Vision:

@brianstelter"Some useful predictions about the future of American journalism to 2020:" http://bit.ly/RcNp (expand) (via )

@PMWoodford: Definitely worth a read

@wendyperrin: What's next for news, journalists, & media? Interesting predictions:

@stevebuttry: Long and loaded with insights about the future of media from @xarker: ecosystems, data, scalability, revenue streams.

@JillGeisler Check out Dan Conover's "Vision 2020: What's Next for News": #journ #journchat #journalism Well worth your time.

@eyeseast Xark looks a decade hence, makes some well-educated (and well linked) guesses about the media landscape

Apparently we're huge in Finland:

"Xark ryhmäblogin Dan Conover on koonnut yhteen tulevaisuuden uutismedian rakennuspalikoita, trendejä ja nousevia seuraavia luovan tuhon lähteitä. Ajatuksia herättävä kokonaisuus, joka ei yhdeltä istumalta sula historiaan. Tähän pitkään listaan - tässä lyhennettynä ja alkuperäisartikkelissa selitettynä - tullaan vielä palaamaan 2020 vision: What’s next for news (via niemanlab.org):"

Vancouver Sun Managing Editor Kirk LaPointe:

"...and now from the Xark group blog on what news might look like in 2020.

"The latter one is probably the most enjoyable of the lot, first because it's a bit of sci-fi and thus feels more escapist than the near-term reality of the other works, but mainly because it carries an optimistic and encouraging thread through it in delivering a framework for change.

"As you can see, plenty to review, and of all the pieces I've digested in this March Madness of journalism documents, this one has made me think the most."

@p2journalism: Conover on media: Foundations of 21st century journalism: Long and loaded with insights about the future of medi.. http://bit.ly/UiI7T

@saleemkhan: @nejsnave @doctorjones 1952EDT I thought about writing on news' future -- Daniel Conover's post seems like a fair summary

@ptleader: Take he time to read these thoughts on newspapers' future by Dan Conover

@adice: Some interesting thoughts on newspapers' future by Dan Conover

@Chanders: Important overview of OpenCalais talk at Columbia http://tinyurl.com/cs4foj (expand) -- relates to Xark 2020 and futility of paywall newspapers

John Reinan from The MinnPost:

"As one of my former bosses liked to say: 'Bring me solutions, not problems.' That's why, of all the scores of media ruminations and predictions I've read in the last couple of years, I like this piece by blogger Dan Conover.

"Conover lays out more potential scenarios than I could possibly imagine: from non-daily publishing and local media cooperatives on the simple end of the spectrum, to informatics and predictive intelligence on the more complex end."

@ckrewson: Your required weekend reading: News futures: What's next? An overview.

Oh, and in case you didn't make the connection, there are some GREAT Twitter follows in this list.


Here's Flip The Media:

"Dan Conover’s bold look ahead is the best I’ve seen. One emerging trend he spots is ‘predictive intelligence’."


I left out this great post by Professor Andy Cline:

Part of what is changing in the current media meltdown is the concept of credibility. The objective stance of journalism (arbiter of the known) evolved in the age of journalism as lecture. That age died. Lecture-based news products are now dying.

The new media have been teaching a generation that they have the right to talk back to and to enter into a conversation with journalism. Further, members of this new generation understand themselves to be content producers. They are, frankly, uninterested in media that do not allow them to talk back, produce, and consume as they please.

News as conversation will operate with radically different understandings of what constitutes credibility. And I’ve gotta tell ya, I think “predictive accuracy” is a damned good standard. What might other standards be? Hmmmm… an interesting area in which to think and make predictions.


I added my thoughts here...

Lisa Williams

Excellent post!

Late to the party here, but this is an excellent post. At Placeblogger, I track over 4,000 indy/local online community sites in the US; there are only 20k named places in the US according to the census, so it's not an isolated occurrence. I won't make any claims about their financial viability or whether or not they're a "replacement" for traditional newsrooms, but as someone famously said, quantity has a quality all its own.

Do you really believe in the Semantic Web/intelligent agents stuff, though? I've been hearing variants on that for nearly 20 years and I'm starting to wonder if it's like the flying car, or the nutritional pill that will replace eating -- an invention that for some reason never comes to pass.

Willing to be proven wrong, however; humans often overestimate change in the short term and underestimate it in the long term, and maybe agents/semweb stuff isn't a no-op, just a not-right-now.


Like you, I'm willing to be proven wrong. Daily. It's the only way I really learn anything valuable.

I think a large part of my semweb optimism is driven by three things: first, I think there's just too much wealth to be generated there by the companies that can afford to be in that development game; second, I think competitive fields are going to demand tools that scale to the actual flow of relevant information; and third, we've got a much better understanding of the informatics principles that would constitute the foundations.

Not so much discovery informatics, which is on the learning side (and very exciting), but just the notion of using simple XML as a way to create machine-readable environments. The intelligent agents become efficient only when they're working in that environment, and that environment gets built only when people see a financial return on structuring their information that way.

And to clarify: I think the bulk of the Web won't be Sembweb-optimized for a long, long time. If ever. So much of the web is simply expression and small-scale communication. But commerce is going to be increasingly conducted with tools, and most ideas tend to follow profitability.

People like us will become semwebby when the back-end guts become as ubiquitous as blogging platforms. And I think we'll want semweb publishing tools because it's the only thing that really makes Long Tail economics work for small content producers. If you want to make your living off of Kevin Kelly's "Thousand True Fans" idea, then you either need to be born a celebrity or find other ways of connecting to the dispersed group of people who would love you if they only knew about you.

Or you could be born with an enormous marketing budget. But I digress.


I found this comment on John Robinson's blog, but since it most concerns this post, I'm including it here. Disclosure: Rod Overton was a VP at Evening Post Digital when I was leaving Charleston.net to return to The P&C's features department. All these entities are owned by Evening Post Publishing.

rodney overton said:

I tried to read Dan Conover's manifesto but could not understand much of it -- and I consider myself to be on the cutting edge of innovation at media websites..

It would seem that Dan is covering so much territory (newspapers become open source?? what does that mean) and such a huge timeframe (2010-2020) (2009-2014) that what he wrote will never be considered wrong. (Heck, when does anyone except me on this blog ever say they are wrong in blog posts?)

I am not saying I disagree with any of it, but after running the most successful media website in the country, I have to say that simply focusing well on what works is likely to do more for you than committing Dan's list to memory.

I dont know if it is out of pride, stupidity or just laziness, but the improvements I have suggested on this site have never been taken up or executed. I still can't tell if anyone on the site is actually tasked with running breaking news for the organization each day. It's impossible to tell.

Good luck reading the tea leaves of Conover's manifesto. It's so easy to take your eye off the ball and focus on that (which despite focusing on the "future of news" never mentions TV stations role.. hmmmm...) instead of just doing things that you are supposed to be doing RIGHT. (Just look at where Lex's big blogging escapade got you four-five years later -- NOWHERE)

I suggest you start reading Jeff Jarvis' blog.

A recent post suggests that newspapers have now given up on trying to make an orderly transition to digital -- mainly by ignoring people like me for the last 10 years to instead do many stupid things half-assed -- and will just fail outright. Then, something will emerge from those ashes.

It's just too bad that there are smart people who could actually make a difference -- instead unbelievably ill-informed people keep writing manifestos and other unbelievably stupid people keep thinking they are the gospel and keep doing dumb things.

Answer me this JR: If you read Conover's manifesto and believe it to be somewhat possible, why not try to actually AVOID parts of it? (One section is "after the fire" -- why not avoid the fire in the first place?)

It seems every single newspaper I see is STILL in the mode of doing just as little change as possible hoping in the back of their mind that they can keep things just as they were in 1990 -- still praying that nothing will really change and at the last second it will all just "be OK"

That scenario is nowhere in Conover's post, but it is what all of you are doing RIGHT NOW.

Conversely, I have talked to many TV stations recently and even the smaller ones eagerly now agree that they will do ANYTHING possible to stay alive. One major TV station in Colorado has tasked the web managing editor with re-writing most jobs to have key tasks for the web (and I mean actually performing tasks on the WEBSITE, not just creating stuff and having the web people post it.)

So, why are you still seeming to say "the fire" is inevitable and not really making the key changes that are necessary?

I'm finding it hard to feel sorry for you..

Posted on March 29, 2009 5:37 PM

Account Deleted

Like one poster, I find this a dizzying amount of information, though as far as I understand it, it's great.

And it's *certainly* quite thorough -- exhaustively so!


Sorry. I get carried away sometimes.


Open source. Yes. Look for massive aggregation. One player (Google) could take it all and macrotarget journalistic content into millions of customized daily editions a day.

Maureen Ogle

Fascinating! (How the heck did I miss this the first time around??) One of the best commentaries on the subject yet.

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