The forward-thinking crowd at News Rewired was rightly excited by the possibilities of technology as it transforms journalism, both in its practice and its consumption.
The conference had glimpses of the future from the Washington Post, Johnston Press, Guardian, Channel 4 and others, covering social platforms, data journalism, API, mobile devices, mapping and user generated content.
If we can be forgiven for our excitement, there are also some cracks in the positive atmosphere, particularly from those with a slightly longer history in traditional newsrooms. And there have been ominous reminders of economic reality and the difficulties of changing culture.
Joanna Geary of the Guardian described the watershed moment in 2008 when the entire production staff of the paper moved to one location in Kings Place, London. If they are collaborating now - a common refrain today - it's easy to wonder what happened before.
Katy was clear that process of change will "fall on its arse" unless the culture of staff changes at the same time.
Attitudes need to shift from production and publishing to forming and sustaining relationships. But making this change is hard when the measures of success are not yet clear.
What do these ‘good relationships’ look and feel like? At the Guardian, community coordinators are on hand by the newsdesks to guide journalists to the important signals of relevance from social networks and weave them into their content.
There are many similarities to Google’s development philosophy. Google is famed for its ruthless cull of failed products (such as Buzz, iGoogle, Knol). If the data shows the product isn’t working, it dies.
Of course, having the luxury of advertising profits from search to fund these experiments makes all the difference: the economics of news organisations might make this seem indulgent. News providers are certainly challenged to fund the army of developers who are the inventing class of this revolution.
As usual, the key to culture is language. What the conference called ‘audience’ and ‘readers’, Google calls ‘users’. It’s a vital difference. Good journalism excites a response. What Google does seems to me to be much more functional: it is building tools to be used.
Is this really the right culture to mimic?