Context demands fundamental change

Info symbolImage via Wikipedia

There are fundamental conceptual and structural issues in creating a local media company for the future. I like the API’s Newspaper Next nomenclature of “Local Information and Connection Utility”, but shortened to Local Information Utility or LIU.

Media connotes being spoken to, or at.

What I am after is a way to create local intelligence in context, accessible from any device at any time. As my friend, Tom, says, following Steve Raye, “context is king”. We are awash in a sometimes disorienting cacophony of content. How do we create, define, and find meaningful information in context?

The context needs to be facilitated by someone, and who better than people who care about the community, organized by the Local Media Company, for all the reasons described by Wediaup in Project 1two5:

Why LoMediaCo’s Still Matter

  1. LoMediaCo’s create a lot of relevant content that no one else does
  2. LoMediaCo’s are a trusted info source
  3. LoMediaCo’s have a vested interest in their communities
  4. LoMediaCo’s have recognizable brands
  5. LoMediaCo’s still make money (just not as much)
  6. LoMediaCo’s have full-time employees
  7. …and a bunch of other stuff that will come out in conversation

However, the LoMediaCo cannot hire all of the micro-community moderators, of both hyper-local communities and communities of interest, to moderate, let alone aggregate the generators of all the content. So, we need community augmentation of both context creation and content creation, while still in context. The most important ingredient is intelligent people who care deeply about their particular community, not technical skills or work processes.

We cannot continue to focus on products. Products are just nodes on the network, promotional flags to local intelligence, in context.

Many innovators are trying to make this happen, and many media managers are still stuck in the same rut.


9 responses to “Context demands fundamental change

  1. Welcome to the blogosphere, Chuck! It’s the existential questions that keep me up nights, and you’ve had, admittedly, far more time to wrestle with the theoretical and academic issues than I.

    So, in your mind, how does the community interact with the LIU? Is it a digital portal to our content? Is it by joining a network around a context/content creator/manager? If the community can get the context and info it needs from us outside of any product, what’s an individual’s motivation to engage with any of our products?

  2. Hello Chuck,

    Great start and congruent with what we’ve got going on in Chicago. We need to have these high level discussions and I have not found a forum that unifies specific issues, even if at this point the concepts are broad. What we’re doing in e-Me land is to try and create a microcosm of an affinity group-driven content mining and contextualizing ecosystem.

    What we’re hoping to do is weave discussion threads together, locate stuff about the threads, then try to make some sense of it all. We intent to offer a community portal to allow news ninjas, community advocates, local/small business and media brands to hang out in the same “town square”.

    So what’s a first topic? Oh I don’t know. How about “how do we innovate to create the interactive and participative news and information service that consumers really want”?

    Good stuff, dude; good stuff!!

  3. To contentninja –

    The answer to the first two questions is yes. People in the community can get to us through many avenues, portals, social networks, searches, products, etc.

    The products act as both general context creators and promotion of the capabilities of the local information utility. I don’t think packaged products, either in print or digital, are going away, they just need to change their form and function to be complementary to the LIU.

    Thanks for asking!


  4. Hey all,
    Niche world here. Contentninja poses great questions. I think one component of community involvement should be the aggregation of local sites and blogs. Perhaps it is the LIU’s responsibility to build the framework for non-media-controlled local sites to be seen and heard… build the infrastructure to travel through the wilderness of today’s local and highly fragmented user-generated content. Who better to offer development plots on local routes of content…?


  5. This, of course, is a viable concept but IMHO we’ll still need to have engaging “fronts” to pull users in more than once. The repeat audience is something devoutly to be desired.

  6. Hi, Chuck —

    Nice to see you here, and great presentation at NAA. Look forward to hearing more.

    About the LIU concept, and also picking up on contentninja’s questions: If you listened to their podcast, you know we took it on the chin from the likes of Editor & Publisher for the whole information-and-connection-utility concept (unsexy, apparently; who can get excited about a utility?), and before we released the most recent N2 report we looked long and hard for another phrase that would embody the vision we’re trying to convey. Earl Wilkinson from INMA talks about “the help desk for the community,” which we like, but neither that nor LIU gets at that other critical element — enabling a community to connect with each other. Of all the examples in the second N2 report, by far the most successful are the ones that feature some kind of community forum functionality. It’s clearly a deeply felt need, regardless of what the community is — neighbors, moms, Nascar enthusiasts, even people trying to save an industry. Just wanted to mention that so you know why we felt it was so important to keep that element in the vision. So we could call ourselves the ICU, which might be appropriate …

  7. Chuck Peters

    I agree that Local Information Utility is not the most engaging and informing descriptor. I used it because API had, and I thought we had enough similar concepts floating around. We do need a new descriptor – all ideas welcomed!

  8. Bernie has come up with an interesting play –

    The Local Information User Community or LIUC or “Lucy”.

    Read more about it at

  9. Pingback: Relationship = Attention x Trust « C3 - Complete Community Connection

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