Sunday, November 29, 2020

Do my blogs amount to "news aggregation"?


Is my set of blogs the logical equivalent of a news consolidation site?

You have to be familiar with my set up (look at the home page of and Blogger profile).  But persons familiar with it that I do “connect the dots” and sometimes come up with warnings about serious problems especially with free speech, sometimes including my own personal narratives.

I link to many stories, but I don’t copy them onto your computer or device.

That makes this different from, say, Smartnews which is used as an app and is ultimately paid for by advertisers.  Most of my content is self-funded, with Adsense and Amazon providing minimal revenue.  As I have noted elsewhere, some people might see that as a problem.

I have “warned” about somethings glossed over by mainstream media – like EMP.  But I really did not see the paradigm for the novel coronavirus coming, that it could lead to lockdowns, and to the emphasis on the “moral” problem of exposing others to a disease you are more likely than they are to recover from easily.

Neither did anyone else (except maybe Avi Schiffmann, who started his coronavirus tracker in Dec. 2019.

Many of the stories I link to are now behind paywalls.  Some of them I do subscribe to: several newspapers (New York Times, Washington Post, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Los Angeles), and a few periodicals (Atlantic, Wired, National Geographic, Scientific American).  Keeping up with them is clumsy, and I have talked in the past about the idea of news bundles.  Some of them offer a few free articles a month free, but fewer do now. When I give a link on a blog post, it is likely that the reader will need a subscription to read the content in the kink.

This is more of an issue today than it was 15 years ago, when most sites were free.  Remember the days of footnotes, bibliographies, and trips to the public library?

Hyperlinks (even embeds) are still like footnotes (although there is Goldman v. Breitnart, see Feb. 17, 2018). But some news sites write warnings that their stories cannot be rewritten or reused, although the facts that the links present cannot be owned or copyrighted.

This leads to the attempts in the EU to discourage news linking with the “link tax” (Article 15), which may have slowed down because of the distraction of the pandemic.

Frankly, a lot of this (along with Article 17) reflects a belief that amateurs should not be distributing global information on their own without gatekeepers;  they should pursue activism through solidarity. This is a view that has become popular on the Left, of course, but also includes a lot of protectionism for legacy media jobs, from competition from those who do it to feel important (sort of sigma male news) but not for a living. And there is now radicalization, foreign manipulation, and “fake news” – looping back to the recent attack on 230 (even Biden’s).

In any case, my setup is much less sustainable today than it looked a decade ago.

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