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Exploring Synergy between Content Aggregation and the Publisher Ecosystem Workshop 2019

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ESCAPE Workshop

Exploring Synergy between Content Aggregation and the Publisher Ecosystem

An Internet Architecture Board workshop

In recent years, a number of proprietary formats have been defined to enable aggregators of news and other articles to republish Web resources; for example, Google’s AMP, Facebook’s Instant Articles, Baidu’s MIP, and Apple’s News Format.

These formats enable various improvements in end-user perceived performance, through techniques like pre-fetching content from the distributing site. Their deployment has raised a number of significant problems. Web Packaging is one proposal to address these issues, and may be suitable for other use-cases as well.

Packaging allows content to be presented to users as if it were obtained from the original site, no matter where it was actually fetched from. For example, a peer-to-peer network could exchange signed packages, or a Web search engine could serve them when a user clicks on a search result.

In one reading, this is a form of modularization: it separates content serving from guarantees of authenticity and integrity. In theory, this could support new content distribution mechanisms, as authors and publishers could delegate their hosting to others while retaining some degree of control, due to their signing authority. It could also serve as a robust defence against censorship by offering alternative publication mechanisms.

However, significant market power concentration among search engines and social networks creates a concern that this mechanism might allow them to pressure publishers to delegate technical authority, reinforcing consolidation. Today’s republishing platforms have exposed several risks of consolidation: opaque effects on content discovery (including search ranking), monetizations that advantage the aggregator, and interactivity (commenting/sharing) that reinforce the reader’s relationship with the aggregator.

These outcomes — both positive and negative — could have wide-ranging effects on the Web and Internet. Assessing them is outside the core competencies of technical standards bodies on their own; so, we are holding this workshop to convene potentially affected parties to discuss the impact of this proposal.

The scope of this workshop includes:

  • Understanding potential changes to balance of power on the Internet (e.g., consolidation, decentralisation)
  • The impact of Web Packaging on the online publishing ecosystem (e.g., news sites, other publications, both advertising-driven and not) – both positive and negative
  • Examination of the underlying requirements driving these proposals
  • Other possible approaches to meeting those requirements
  • Feedback and discussion of the Web Packaging proposal in specific

Note that the primary audience is at the business/policy level, not technical.

Logistics

Submissions Due: 7 June 2019

Invitations Issued by: 14 June 2019

Workshop Date: 18-19 July 2019 (ending approximately 1pm on Friday)

Workshop Location: Herndon, Virginia USA

Program Committee Chair: Mark Nottingham (Internet Architecture Board, Fastly)

Program Committee Members: Martin Thomson (Internet Architecture Board, Mozilla), Robin Berjon (The New York Times), David Strauss (Pantheon, Drupal), Joseph Lorenzo Hall (Center for Democracy & Technology)

Send Submissions to: escape-workshop-pc@iab.org

Position papers from academia, industry and others that focus on the broader picture and that warrant the kind of extended discussion that a 1.5-day workshop offers are the most welcome. Papers that reflect experience based on running code and deployed services are also very welcome. Papers that are proposals for point-solutions are less useful in this context, and can simply be submitted as Internet-Drafts and discussed on relevant IETF or W3C lists.

The workshop will be by invitation only. Those wishing to attend should submit a position paper to the address above; this may take the form of an Internet-Draft.

All inputs submitted and considered relevant will be published on the workshop web page. The organisers will decide whom to invite based on the submissions received. Sessions will be organized according to content, and not every accepted submission or invited attendee will have an opportunity to present as the intent is to foster discussion and not simply to have a sequence of presentations.

Position papers from those unable to attend in person are encouraged. A workshop report will be published afterwards.

Position Papers

All submissions received will be listed below. If your submission is not listed, please check your e-mail for a confirmation message that needs to be replied to, or re-send your submission. If you have trouble making a submission, please contact mnot@mnot.net.