Archive for October 2007

Plug: Web Directions North

I have nothing to do with the upcoming Web Directions North Conference in Vancouver, BC, but I thought I’d give it a plug anyway. I’ve been trying to convince Dave to throw this thing in the summertime when it’s warm and gorgeous in Vansterdam, but since it’s a wintertime event, it doubles handily as a ski trip to Whistler. If you’ve never been to the Vancouver/Whistler area of the world, you should consider going to this event. Why? Great speakers!

A trip to Web Directions North is also a great excuse to renew your passport, if it has expired. Off to go do that right now…

Msnbc.com Acquires Newsvine

I grew up in an NBC household. Some of my earliest TV memories were sitting in the living room at 6pm with my parents and watching the nightly news with David Brinkley, John Chancellor, and later Tom Brokaw. I didn’t always understand what was going on in the world, but it was my half hour nightly glimpse into life beyond Pacific Palisades, California, where I grew up. Old habits die hard when it comes to news network allegiances and I continued to turn to the peacock for news into my teen years and through college.

In November of 2000, that all changed. Although politics have never interested me in the least bit, the Bush/Gore election and the epic amount of controversy that resulted from it turned the news world upside down. In my mind, that was the beginning of the 24/7 news cycle, at least in the United States. I found myself instantly wanting more than the standard 30 minutes of national news NBC gave me every night. During this frantic period, many people turned to cable news for their 24/7 news fix, and that’s when I found MSNBC.

Suddenly, whenever I turned on my TV, there was election coverage available. Who was this Ashleigh Banfield girl? I didn’t know, but I liked her. Where did all of these reporters suddenly come from? And whoa, what’s this? A double-length version of the Nightly News anchored by Brian Williams? I’m in!

Fast-forward several months later when everyone thought the 24/7 news cycle might have peaked, and then came September 11th, 2001 — the most shocking event that anyone alive today has ever witnessed and probably ever will. News activity was completely off the charts again. And who was right there with the best 24/7 coverage again? MSNBC. For the next several years, as the incident slowly turned into the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, I found myself still turning to the Micro-Peacock — both online and off — for my most important news consumption. It is still the source from which most of my mainstream news comes from.

It is therefore with great pride, that I can announce the company I co-founded two years ago, Newsvine, has just been acquired by msnbc.com.

Wow, I’ve been waiting a few months to say that. It feels great to finally make the news public.

Msnbc.com is one of the most decorated, highly trafficked news sites on the web, and is ranked as one of the top news site overall, according to virtually every measurement service. More than one billion page views a month strong, and run by some of the smartest people in the industry, msnbc.com represents a lot of what online news ought to be about: immersive interactive news experiences, award-winning journalism, stunning photography, thoughtful UI, and scalability a startup like Newsvine could never dream of achieving on its own. It is a separate company from the TV side of NBC News and MSNBC the cable channel, but all the organizations work together to complement each other online and off.

Msnbc.com, the news site, has always been a daily visit for me. They were the first to have a professionally typeset cover story when they launched their legendary Roger Black design back in the 1990s. They’ve also produced some of the best interactive news experiences like The Darkest Day (9/11) and Rising from Ruin (Hurricane Katrina). Throw in the stunning photo galleries, a wealth of news video, and an impressive army of award-winning print journalists and it’s easy to see what makes the site so special.

So why would an independent, cost-efficient, growing startup like Newsvine which has taken very little venture capital want to join a huge organization like msnbc.com? The answer comes down to global impact. Our goal at Newsvine has always been to spread the ethos of participatory news as far and wide as possible, and what more dramatic way can that be accomplished than with a partner who reaches 85 million computers a month and has an offline presence on nearly every television set in the country?

We never set out to prove that grassroots media was better than mainstream media or vice-versa. The theory, in fact, has been quite the opposite: that given the right environment, an ecosystem where big and little media make each other stronger can be developed. This has been proven out on the Newsvine site itself since we launched about a year and a half ago, and it’s now going to go prime time. We’re so excited.

One the most important aspects of this deal for both organizations was that Newsvine will continue to run independently, from a brand and operational perspective. They are two different sites with two entirely different brand expectations. That said, we’re thrilled to be working with a parent who resides right across Lake Washington from us, a mere 20 minutes away. Of all the companies who’ve come knocking since launch, never has a relationship of such geographical advantage matched this one. It’s a win for the Newsvine community, a win for msnbc.com, a win for our investors at Second Avenue, and a win for the Seattle region as well.

Wish us luck as we continue our mission of evolving online news.

More coverage:

The Bartelme Button Development Kit

You too can make awesome buttons!

Shared
Why I Just Asked My Students To Put Their Laptops Away:

A great essay about how toxic everyday distractions can be.

Humanity's deep future:

A group of researchers at the Future of Humanity Institute talk about where our race may be going and how artificial intelligence could save or kill us all.

Steve Jobs speaks about the future at the International Design Conference in 1983:

31 years later, it’s safe to say this is one of the most prescient speeches about technology ever delivered. Jobs covers wireless networking, tablets, Google StreetView, Siri, and the App Store (among other things) many years before their proliferation. A fantastic listen.

How to travel around the world for a year:

Great advice for when you finally find the time.

LiveSurface:

A fantastic app for prototyping your design work onto real world objects like billboards, book covers, and coffee cups. This seems like just as great of a tool for people learning design as it does for experts.

50 problems in 50 days:

One man’s attempt to solve 50 problems in 50 days using only great design. Some good startup ideas in here…

How to Do Philosophy:

If you’ve ever suspected that most classical philosophy is a colossal waste of time, Paul Graham tells you why you’re probably right.

TIME: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us:

Stephen Brill follows the money to uncover the pinnacle of corruption that is the U.S. Health Care system. A must-read article if there ever was one.

DIY Dot Org:

A beautifully designed site full of fun and challenging DIY projects. I could spend months on here.

The Steve Jobs Video Archive:

A collection of over 250 Steve Jobs videos in biographical order

Self-portraits from an artist under the influence of 48 different psychoactive drug combos.

Water Wigs are pretty amazing.

David Pogue proposes to his girlfriend by creating a fake movie trailer about them and then getting a theater to play it before a real movie. Beautiful and totally awesome.

Jonah Peretti's letter to BuzzFeed’s employees:

If you’re wondering what a excellent blueprint for a modern media company looks like, look no further than Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti’s latest email to his employees. In it, Peretti explains a lot of his company’s virtues, the most important being a relentless focus on always providing what’s best for the user. Vox Media (operators of The Verge) is the only other company I can think of which approaches this level of reform and execution.

The Covers Project:

I love this so much: a cross-referenceable database of cover songs, searchable by song or artist. Slowed down, acoustic covers — no matter the song — are so enjoyable to me that I wish it was a requirement to play one at every show. If you like them as much as I do, make sure to check out M. Ward’s Let’s Dance or Sun Kil Moon’s entire album of Modest Mouse covers.