Are Free Tools Better For Web Publishers?

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

An e-mail arrives from the inestimable Mr Rodgers, directing me to a post by Howards Owens about using free web tools to improve your website:

> The other day, Nick Sergeant was messing around with Yahoo! Pipes. He discovered that by ingesting content from one of our newspaper sites, and comparing those stories to the content in a specific story, he could automatically create related links to other stories on that site.

And that’s a really neat little trick for getting those handy little “related articles” links on the bottom of your posts. Now, doing this sort of thing on a commercial sitre is not without its risks. Relying on free web services can come back to bite you if those free services suddenly close up or change massively. And, as a non-paying customer, you get exactly the customer service you paid for.

Even so, the balance of cost savings versus potetial risk seems to bias heavily on the side of giving it a go. As Mr Owens puts it:
> Note: There are vendors who provide this service for thousands of dollars. Thanks for one smart developer playing around with the latest, cool open-network tools, GateHouse Media can now make it available on our sites for free.

Big publishing companies tend to seek big publishing solutions. The problem is that the web favours small, agile solutions. Squaring that circle is a huge challenge, and one that’s as much a social one as a technical one.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.