Today we announced the end of publishing New Raleigh. About 7 years ago, I had the overwhelming urge to capture the momentum of the city. I felt like what was out there wasn’t capturing any of the truly unique things happening and they had no discrimination about what they wrote about. Our focus with New Raleigh was on being critical, discriminating and exposing the best and worst of the budding downtown. We did that 10 fold – it was wonderfully exhilarating . We honed our strategy and built an audience.
Almost a year before launch I thought of the name/found the domain name. And on Halloween night I pitched it to Mark Kuykendall and Chad Evans. I wanted to expose the poor development practices happening downtown and I wanted to highlight all of the cool things that weren’t part of Glenwood South. I remember very early- 6 months before we launched- I told local PR guru Allison Beale that I wanted to be the site that everyone in town begged to be on- and that being on it meant your event would be successful.
Early on Barden Culbreth and Jedidiah Gant joined up and together we really covered the meat of interesting culture in Raleigh. Later on we had many great editors like Vince Carmondy, Isaac Weeks, Khaner Walker, Tim Ayers, Stacey Wegner and Ladye Jane Vickers. Ultimately though- the core of our success came down to the super hard work of three key editors: Mark Kuykendall, Acree Graham and Jedidiah Gant. Their dedication is nicely reflected in our analytics- with soaring peaks that correlated directly with their focus and hard work.
Of course Jedidiah Gant is the site’s patron saint. His dedication carried the bulk of the work the last 3 years. A true talent for knowing everything going on and being friends with everyone in town- he was the picture of everything I would want in that editor-in-chief and without him the site would have been shut down years ago.
Well that all happened and we slowly became the defining events list for Raleigh. We also became the hub of architectural & development news, restaurant news and anything art and music. Where entrenched publications like the Indy really couldn’t get it together online, we excelled. Businesses would act totally ridiculous trying to get their stuff on the site. Many people acted so friendly, but ultimately they just had something to promote. That was actually the only part of the site that I really regretted- that it became really tough to decipher who my local friends really were. With or without a developed business model this would have been a problem- it was never ads these folks wanted- they wanted editorial.
I think what you see is that New Raleigh grew from intrinsic motivation, it wasn’t suited for business models or arbitrary journalistic standards- it was an artistic expression- the gestalt of a city reborn and our experiences within it.
One of the reasons that the merchants can offer lower prices via these services is that the prices will not appear in Google searches and therefore difficult to include in comparison shopping systems.Unless you’re Google, efficient pricing is the antithesis of profit. Instant, free, ubiquitous, constant, direct comparisons to the competition drives prices towards marginal cost i.e. profit = zero quickly. To escape this race to the bottom, information inefficiency must exist. Before the internet became ubiquitous, information inefficiency was the natural state in which society existed. Now it must be manufactured.
The people who will spout bullshit like “I read on screen all day” when what they really mean is “I read the first three paragraphs of the New York Times article I saw linked on Twitter before retweeting it; and then I repeat that process for the next eight hours while pretending to work.” That’s reading in the way that rubbing against women on the subway is sex.
Edward Tufte, Appointee for Member, Recovery Independent Advisory Panel
Edward Tufte is Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Statistics, and Computer Science at Yale University. He wrote, designed, and self-published The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Envisioning Information, Visual Explanations, and Beautiful Evidence, which have received 40 awards for content and design. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the Society for Technical Communication, and the American Statistical Association. He received his PhD in political Science from Yale University and BS and MS in statistics from Stanford University.
Normally I am really excited about everything going on on the web. We are moving so fast- its exhilarating. This week though- things are kind of gloomy. The brands/tools I love are acting like assholes and its hard to avoid feeling negative about it. I want to boycott them, but hell, my business is built on these things- that’s why they know they can do it.
My thinking has changed recently, as Google’s moves with Buzz have surfaced, and Apple’s moves to control sexual imagery in the the app store, as they embark on an ugly and dishonest campaign against Flash. Patents are nothing new. Last year, Google patented some very basic technology we created in the first wave of RSS apps. Another company was granted a patent on podcasting. It goes on all the time. What is different is that tech companies are taking a more active interest in the content that flows over their networks, and are doing less to protect their users. Sometimes they’re the ones attacking users. Just like other industries.
Think about how you’re treated by airlines. By insurance companies. If you have to go to a hospital. That’s the kind of relationship you have with Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, etc. Sooner or later there will be a massive oil spill or a massive network-wide security breach. Expect these companies to be every bit as bad as the ones in other industries. Probably worse because they’ve come so far without much oversight or scrutiny. Recently Google was given permission to trade energy. Who are these companies? We have no idea.
Speaking at an event hosted by digital agency Albion, Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of The Guardian, outlined his vision of the role that journalists and newspapers will play in an internet-led future, and took another sideswipe at Murdoch’s “dubious” business model.
He said it was important for publishers to change their mindset from an “us versus them” approach, to place the focus on involvement instead of authority.
The editor-in-chief was also vociferous about the “open” model of the internet and the philosophy of “do what you do best and link to the rest”.
“If you are open, that means you want to be part of the way the web works rather than simply on the web,” he said.
“I think that leads you to think about the whole democratisation of the web, the whole way it works as a series of links and how all information on the web is now linked to all other information.”
He acknowledged that recognition of others work “goes against the instincts of journalists” but said it results in “better journalism”.
But Rusbridger warned it would be impossible for publishers to embrace these developments if content is withdrawn and placed behind paywalls.
He said: “If you believe the most important thing is to try and get direct return for your content and put a universal paywall around everything then you necessarily take yourself out of those first two roles…
“That’s why I think it is a dubious business model and just completely antithetical to the way everything is going, not just journalism.
Highlighting a discrepancy already within Murdoch’s portfolio, Rusbridger contrasted the democratic, inclusive approach of Harper Collins’ social networking site Bookarmy, with that of plans to restrict content of The Times.
“It seems to me when you look at those two models, you know which is going to win. It’s going to be the open one,” he said.
“Facebook is working on Facebooksense, their version of Adsense. These ads will be available on sites that also have facebook connect. When they build their own ad network they will have behavioral and page content and be able to use the two to build ads.
Google commoditized social networking using Buzz to undermine this launch.”
Last week I got to see Ira Glass address the journalism students at UNC. His format was similar to a This American Life episode but was centered around storytelling and how that process has grown and the conventions that the TAL staff uses to engage the listener. Ira was awesome, and he even talked about his early reporting and how bad he was when he started. I guess there is some hope for me after all.