Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mobile platform revenue share model for citizen journalism in Sri Lanka

The research question is "can the mobile service platform revenue sharing model be catalyst to advocating a sustainable citizen journalism program in Sri Lanka?". The previous article on "audio content production and deliver is the first step to instigating citizen journalism" talked about the Sarvodaya initiative to build capacity in rural Sri Lanka for enabling a platform to hear the voices of the rural communities. Given the cost of mobilizing such an endeavor it is best to begin with audio productions.

I'm writing a research proposal that aims to use an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system with touch tone and voice through a normal phone call and Podcasts through a website (specifically WAP enabled) over the GSM mobile service platform. IVR would work over the voice channel but the dilemma lies in the Podcasts over GPRS. Given the coverage strengths in Sri Lanka it is debatable whether the Podcasts would work.

As in most cases the emphasis in applied research (or action research), besides answering the system robustness question, is answering the sustainability question. As a result it is hypothesised that a revenue share scheme would advocate for such system to live long. The revenue share model over the content business value chains (Joader, 2007) establishes a proportionate sharing scheme between the content-creators, content-owners, aggregators, vendors, and the network-providers.

There are already aggregators such as Kongregate, Youtube, Digital Journal, etc that provide platforms for content-creators to cash in for their creativity. In Sri Lanka the mobile operators are apprehensive to sharing revenue with service providers. The research intends to partner with a mobile operator such as Dialog Telekom who has the largest mobile market share in Sri Lanka and is investigating ventures that will use their technologies such as delivery of the news paper Lankapuvath over SMS and IVR.

The research design will look at a sample of 10 governing districts in Sri Lanka and through a series of awareness campaigns recruit content-creators and subscribers. Thereafter, let the system determine the survival of the fittest; where the creative, interesting, subscriber centric content-creators will profit from the system and the weaker ones will disappear. The assessment will group the data on the urban/rural divide, language, religious preface, and gender. The publications will be categorized in to current affairs, culture, philosophy, education, and entertainment based on a probability measure distribution; where a publication on the topic of "child primary schooling" may fall into the categories of current affairs and education with a distribution of 0.70 and 0.30, respectively. Both a subjective and objective assessment schemes will be implement to qualitatively and qualitatively assess the evidence of the viability of the technology, human aspects, and policy implications.

Comments are welcome on any literature available in this area, research methodologies, and implementation schemes or even knowledge on other projects of similar nature.