Thursday, 30 June 2011

Cloud computing is the future of low cost periodical publishing.

Cloud computing provides the means to develop new editorial management techniques for web-based periodical publishing.
by Tom Thorne
Cloud computing is really not too complex. It’s main feature is that it saves big bucks for companies who don’t want to maintain their own IT hardware systems and the staff that goes with them. On the business computing front this is its main advantage. 
Because Cloud techniques are virtual, companies can expand by adding virtual computers looked after by a supplier who really acts as a common carrier. It’s a neat idea for business and should also be useful for web based editorial work to flourish at low cost.
In the new web media business Cloud computing holds a lot of promise. Media companies will be able to maintain complex editorial and publication systems by using low cost Clouds. This development can spur fully web-based publications and other video-based media distribution. 
Imagine a publication on a Cloud
Imagine a periodical publishing company resident on a Cloud. Each time they want to add a new publication they simply set up a virtual publication on an equally virtual machine that serves the new service to readers and also collects their subscriptions. 
The editorial systems for producing the publications are also using Clouds and are fed content from sources anywhere on earth and edited before publication perhaps even by artificial intelligence systems in a few years from now. 
In the media this change can evolve into small editorial and liaison IT staffs to work with the Cloud supplier. The rest of the editorial workers would likely be stringers who are paid by the story or by the assignment. Naturally, regular contributors will  evolve from this pool of talent likely working from home offices. 
This distributed work force also is a net saver of budget. Even the core editorial staff can work from their own home office removing any need in a Cloud-based publication for expensive bricks and mortar installations anywhere.
This means the costs will be for the lower cost virtual Cloud services provided by a supplier and the savings for brick and mortar offices can be plowed into editorial payments to writers and journalists.
Of course these virtual publications can also be supported by advertising and by users paying for subscriptions. Subscriptions are in place for many publications already. The big change, however, will not be in these standard ways of building revenue but in the way the editorial staff work together when they distributed and not concentrated in one place.

Editorial workers have started working this way already.
Probably a lot of editorial staff work this way already even in the print and broadcasting worlds but the need for physical space for offices is the next thing to go. It simply is not needed. However, this change in editorial practice will necessitate a new type of  highly skilled editorial management with finely honed personnel and technological skills.
The management of a Cloud publication will have to be very well organized and the way in which distributed writers and contributors work together will create new systems and editorial methods. This is probably the most difficult part of Cloud publishing to devise. Most personal computers have video link capabilities and so that will facilitate meeting and discussing. Most of us are already working constantly in email, texting, social media and Skype type phone systems so that won’t be a big change.
The big change will be the software on the Cloud that enables everyone producing a news publication to see it in preparation for release. It may very well work in real time with stories coming in, being edited, checked and posted and then updated as needed. It will be a web version of television with a combination of print and video links. 
The speed of contemporary information calls for a very strict editorial checking system if the stories released are to be credible. There may have to be new standards used to do breaking stories by tagging them with rumour, still being checked, through to substantiated fact. By clicking on a link the editorial process and sources of a breaking story can be seen and rated for reliability by the reader.
Commentary publications can be the first  to pilot the Cloud concept.
Commentaries, editorials and investigative journalism can be done very well on a web based service. In these cases there is not the need for the same speed demanded to edit a web based news service. It is possible to build a high quality Cloud publication of record that originates completely on the web by taking the cost savings and turning them into paying for first rate editorial material.
Such a high quality web based editorial service could be done for a fraction of the cost of television or print publications maintaining traditional offices and staff. The business model for this type of publication requires some new thinking and an ability to escape many old ideas.
No writer or contributor needs to be housed in a newsroom or office any more. The big expense is setting up the editorial software capable of working well with a distributed work force. Initially this start up can be financed  over the contributors and journalists who could also be the owners or shareholders of the Cloud publication. Ownership builds commitment to the success of the Cloud publication.
A virtual newsroom or editorial space needs to be created to maintain communications and editorial standards. The management of a publication like this may be much more democratic because the contributors and writers provide their own means of production in their home or in the field. It will be truly “freelance” a term that derives from landless knights who provided their “lance” for a fee in mediaeval times.
This style of editorial working may be the first time in periodical history where media baron big capital is not needed to start up a publication. It can be a shared enterprise of the people who at their own level own the entry means of production and with that production capability contribute to first class editorial content distributed produced and distributed 100 percent on the World Wide Web. They can also share its profits.
© Copyright 2011, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved

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