The Guardian Launches Open Platform: Why This is Really Big

The Guardian Launches Open Platform: Why This is Really Big

By  Shafqat   |   March 10, 2009

The technology and media world has been abuzz with news about the launch of the Guardian's Open Platform. There's been a fair amount of press coverage already, and you can read the Guardian's introduction here, and the TechCrunch review here.

A lot of the coverage has made comparisons to the New York Time's recent launch of their Times Newswire API. However, I think these are two different animals and I wanted to highlight some of the differences. Both the NYT and the Guardian have shown tremendous creativity and openness to launch these APIs in the first place, so I don't want to take anything away from either. It's just important to highlight a couple of important distinctions.

The Guardian is embracing commercial usage of their content via the API. The New York Times is not. Commercial use of the Guardian API means that partners would have to display Guardian advertisements around their content. Additional advertising belonging to the publishers is allowed, and that revenue remains with the publishers. In fact, the Guardian also mentions partnerships that involve syndication, dedicated support, reselling etc. These would require additional conversations and licensing, but it's refreshing to see newspaper companies explore new business models for their content (rather than shutting down access as some have proposed).

The Guardian is offering the full text of articles via the API. The New York Times is not. I didn't realize this at first, but the NYT Newswire API contains a link, the headline, and the intro paragraph. The "body" field in the API response is not actually the full text of the body, which is a shame. However, I am optimistic that this might be possible under different commercial licensing. If the NYT only plans on offering excerpts, I don't see how they can charge for that content AND expect traffic back to their site (that would be "re"-monetizing, or double dipping).

I love that the Guardian opening up their content - kudos to everyone else involved in this. It’s obvious that there is an increasing divide between media organizations that “get” the new open web, and those still struggling to adapt and calling on protectionism to save them. The Guardian (and NYT) are on the right side of the fence. We can’t wait to get started with the Guardian, and have already gotten in touch. When it comes to delighting our users, we think partnering with the Guardian is a win-win solution for everyone involved.

Finally, I leave you with a choice quote from Jeff Jarvis: "The media brand is less a destination and a magnet to draw people there than a label once you’ve found the content, wherever and however you found it. So the more places you can find it, the better."

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