I'm back in Seattle after attending the excellent Future of News workshop hosted by David Robinson and Ed Felten. There were many contributing factors to the success of the workshop, not least of which was the cross disciplinary nature of speakers, panelists and attendees. In addition to participants in my line of work, or with similar areas of interest, such as David Blei (former colleague at WhizBang!Labs) and Kevin Anderson (whose career spans both the BBC, with some involvement with Backstage, and the Guardian, an organization that is not caught with with fretting about the past; and who blogs on Corante, for his sins) I met representatives (and survivors of) traditional newsprint organizations, individuals centrally involved in transforming news in the Web 2.0 world, academics with impressive access to the entire trajectory of media evolution, hackers and so on.
Given the rich range of voices, while we may not have solved any specific problems (despite Ed's closing remarks) I certainly feel as if we aired a reasonably good sample of them. On reflection, I stand by yesterday's summary: there is plenty of pessimism around old media structures and plenty of optimism around the opportunities that new sources and new forms of information, combined with new ways to filter, analyse and aggregate this data presents. Bridging the two positions, there is concern around issues of quality and value with respect to the nature of the content (that is to say, a contributor's ability to provide transparent and supportable content) - will the new information ecology support reasonable ideals for news? Note, to me, those ideals centre on making the reader better informed and more efficient at selecting content.
For other coverage of the event, a great starting place would be Kevin's posts (starting here with an account of Paul Starr's opening talk). Also Steve Boriss, Tim Lee, and Jack Kemp. Note that the presentations and discussions will soon be available online.