Casa BattlóI write about Thomson Reuters‘ release of Calais 4.0 over on ZDNet today, and wanted to use this post to explore some of the broader context within which Calais should increasingly be considered.

As well as linking to ‘usual suspects’ in the Linked Data space such as the CIA Factbook, GeoNames, DBpedia, Musicbrainz and the like, Thomson Reuters is taking the additional step of providing access to parts of their information empire. Already recognised as one of the premiere sources for financial and company information on the global stage, the company is choosing to embed Thomson Reuters services such as stock tickers, information on corporate Boards, etc.

In a world in which everyone can participate, and in which citizen journalism, crowd sourcing and the rest are leading to powerful and wide-ranging disruptions to traditional media, Thomson Reuters is betting that authoritative, timely and branded data has value, and that opportunities exist to build that value by giving some previously expensive information away for free in order to jump-start a range of new and lucrative services.

Freebase employees once talked about a desire to become the canonical source of certain facts on the web; the go-to place for a class of information. Might Thomson Reuters have similar ambitions in the business information market, and might the undeniable (and free) value of the Calais web services be the hook that encourages a whole swathe of developers building applications for this market to perpetuate – and strengthen – the company’s reach?

This isn’t cynical, this isn’t devious, this isn’t ‘wrong,’ and there is absolutely no suggestion that the currently free services will ever incur charges for use. Instead, it’s an interesting example of a titan of Old Media thinking creatively about ways in which it can continue to have value in a changing world.

Casa Battló © Larry Miller 2003, and shared on Flickr under Creative Commons License.

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