The mobile publishing technology behind GuardianWitness

One of the great ah-hah moments in my career happened in 2006 when Amazon launched EC2.

To be honest, the shockwave I observed across Silicon Valley at the news inspired that ah-hah rather than any insight I had about the product. I don’t think I really understood virtual machines. The idea still makes my head spin.

But when I realized Bezos was exposing Amazon’s incredible internal infrastructure and selling those capabilities externally everything clicked. What a smart thing to do.

Why don’t more companies do this?

Yes, it might be hard to move legacy bespoke systems into a state where they can support paying customers, but it’s not hard to design the possibility for commercializing technology externally at its conception.

We’ve been applying this strategy to n0tice from the start. Now we have a very significant case study in the form of GuardianWitness, and others will be announced soon.

While the GuardianWitness project is clearly going to have a big impact both in terms of open journalism and in terms of new revenue for the Guardian, there’s a parallel world where the technology making GuardianWitness possible can be used to build both a technology licensing business and an interesting partner network.

appsGuardianWitness was built using n0tice, the mobile publishing platform we launched publicly almost exactly a year ago. The web site, iPhone and Android apps, and a bunch of new capabilities, including moderation tools, video processing and YouTube integration, high performance, scalability and security levels, and a customer support process were all built with the intention of selling those services, too. The n0tice API servicing all this is now very robust.

We have a marketing site at explaining the offering. I’ve written a bit more detail about what we did on the n0tice blog. And you can find a lot more technical information on the developer web site here, which includes an architectural overview of the n0tice platform.

If we’ve done this right then any professional publisher, broadcaster, brand, community, developer, etc. who wants to give their customers the ability to post photos and videos from their phones will be able to do so with specialised, high quality, enterprise-level technologies and services.

There’s a ton of great capability here at the Guardian, and we are not the only media organization that could benefit from the technologies that enable us to do what we do.