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Archives for Spot-on HouseKeeping

Talk is Cheap, Flattery Priceless

Nov
13
2006

Readers, please excuse me as I veer – slightly – off topic to discuss a bit of business that’s come to my attention. It’s time, once again, to engage in a bit of sorting out among us competitive on-line publishers and give Gawker founder Naughty Nicky Denton a much-needed spanking.
Seen the redesign of Gawker Media’s attempt to cover Silicon Valley, ValleyWag? If you should wander over there, you may be struck, as I was, by a few things. First, they’re selling a few more ads this week than they have in the past: There are fewer house-ads, anyway.
Two, the damn thing looks a lot like our old site right on down to the Courier typeface. We still use Courier, of course, but we’ve tinkered with it just a teeny bit – as Gawker did overnight will undoubtedly do as it learns its lesson – to make it more readable. So we’re gracefully accepting on that score, the most sincere form of flattery: Imitation. They’re trying to look like us! How sweet.
That’s not the only reason we’re blushing with modest satisfaction. The “new” Valleywag, says Denton, is going to write about money, not so much about sex. And it’s going to write about Silicon Valley CEOs and other movers and shakers, not so much about “the little people” who just happen to have their private lives caught on tape. And that nice Nick Douglas who helped start the column is looking for a job.
Just a little repositioning? Maybe. But you know things are really in bad shape when Mr. Denton himself – a man who swore off San Francisco, Silicon Valley and the West Coast generally – decides to hang around the small backward village of San Francisco until he finds someone to run ValleyWag.
It’s all sooooooooo flattering. But I’m afraid I’ll have to demur on that public offer of a job, Nicky. It’s almost exactly 10 years since I sat down and wrote a memo outlining the purpose of my Silicon Valley column “Talk is Cheap.” That memo (copies available on request) began very simply: “This column is about money.” That you struggled to that conclusion over the weekend is not a huge surprise.
Of course, all this gives me an excuse to talk about how well we’re doing here at Spot-on. Since it launched a year ago, Spot-on has seen its traffic quadruple – that’s without resorting to porn videos. We have tripled the number of writers with more on the way. Our business focus – to provide larger outlets with smart commentary and good writing on a range of political, social and cultural affairs – is moving steadily and surely in the right direction as our quality editorial attracts customers, readers and investors. In the next few weeks we’ll be announcing deals that will take our writers well beyond this site to outlets much larger than anything Gawker – with its pathological fear of outside investment and its apparently faltering dependance on ad revenue – can reach. Being respectable isn’t easy – people sneer and call us “small” – but we’re out to build a business, not cash in on a fad.
So good luck finding another writer to do your money-first, sex-when-necessary bidding, Nicky. It’s not going to be easy. I know. I set the bar. It’ll be fun to see if you can find someone tall enough to reach it.

Posted by Chris Nolan at 3:09 PM | Permalink

Spot-On Ethics

Jan
30
2006

Josh Trevino makes some good points in his post on “The Netherlands 25″ and he doesn’t need me to elaborate on the principles or ethics involved. We agree. And we also agree that the behavior of outfits like BlogAds – which seems to have no problem linking advertising and editorial in one cozy sales package – are questionable.
Josh raises another issue that I, as editor of this site, should address head-on. I’ll do so here for those of you who care passionately about ethics, reporting and how we manage our conflicts-of-interest. You can also take a look at our editorial policies which are detailed here.
But back to Josh. His junket to Live8 was, indeed, a “free” trip given to us – as we disclosed at the time – by Technorati, the search engine folks who had a business arrangement with ONE, the African debt relief charity, and America OnLine, which co-sponsored the trip. We got the ticket the old fashioned way: A friend at Technorati asked me to recommend someone who wouldn’t write the usual “Bush sucks” posts from Live8 and I immediately suggested Josh. There were two reasons for my suggestion: One, he’s actually been to Africa and has written about it and two, he hates celebrity culture.
But the free ticket isn’t our real conflict as a publishing concern. We have bigger issues. I’m pretty sure I have never discussed with Josh how we got the ticket or the reasons we received it. For all he knows, I reimbursed Technorati for his airfare. My job as founder is to keep him as a writer ignorant of these sorts of transactions; it’s the classic edit/business split and I’m doing my best to maintain it. But you, as readers, have plenty of reason to think hard about my decision and how they affect what we write here, particularly when it comes to politics and tech businesses. I’ve said as much here; let me offer more detail.

(more…)

Posted by Chris Nolan at 8:42 AM | Permalink

Our Wish

Dec
24
2005

A very Merry Christmas.
And a Happy New Year.
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear.
- John Lennon

Posted by Chris Nolan at 11:11 PM | Permalink

Spreading the Words

Dec
7
2005

Alert readers – that’s you, I know – will notice that Deborah Klosky, our feminist Mom, has a post up today that sounds just a little bit like an introduction. Why’s that you ask? Well, Deb is joining MSN Spaces Lifestyle filter. She’s the first of our Spot-on writers to get a syndication deal which makes us – not her, for a change – the proud “parents,” if you will.
Congrats to Deb! Also, watch this space for some more changes. Next week, we’ll be adding two new writers, Matthew Holt who will lend us his services talking about health care and public health issues (with the occasional incomprehensible joke about something he calls “football” but looks a lot like soccer to me).
Southern California Republican Scott Olin Schmidt will be offering us his political commentary, joining Mr. Trevino over there on the red, red right. Not that far right: Schmidt, a Southern California-based Republican, has written for two of Naughty Nicky Denton’s sites – most notable Wonkette – but he is perhaps best known in California political circles as boifromtroy. The USC Trojans are going to the Rose Bowl but Schmidt’s football musings – and his admiration for the good looking young men who play the game – won’t be making it to our pages. They’ll be staying where they belong.
As for me. well, I’ve been doing some talking, Yeah, I know. I’m good at it. Lord knows I get plenty of practice. This time someone made a podcast.
After the Corante conference last month, Jenny Attiyeh, who runs thoughtcast.org, conducted an interview with Corante’s COO Stowe Boyd, Mr. Cluetrain, David Weinberger and me.
Attiyeh’s calling three of us “Internet gurus.” I’m not so sure I deserve the title – those two others do, however – so you can click on over to Thoughtcast and have a listen to us talking about what we think is happening on the web and where we think it’s all going.

Posted by Chris Nolan at 9:40 AM | Permalink

Yet Another Day in the Life of A Digital Helen Keller

Dec
2
2005

Did You Send Email to anyone at Spot-on.com?
Did It Bounce?
Probably.
We are having, um, problems with our email. Mr. Technology was moving boxes in the attic last night and he might have bumped into something. We’re not sure. He’s checking. UPDATE: It’s all better now….
So uh, try again. Our apologies. And read yesterday’s post again about computer incompatibility and remember, this could happen to you.

Posted by Chris Nolan at 9:24 AM | Permalink

The Deluge

Oct
15
2005

When it rains, it pours.
My computer’s broken. Josh’s computer is on the fritz, too. That’s why it’s been so quiet.
I did manage to squeeze this eWeek column out of the laptop before it died. It’s about my few days last week in Greensboro at ConvergeSouth.
While I’ve been dealing with trains, planes and busted machines, Deborah Klosky has been writing up a storm. And Christopher Brauchli has weighed in (late, because my computer is broken) with a very good piece on Lynndie England.
Lynndie England’s role in what happened at Abu Ghraib may never be clearly understood. That is in no small part because of the porn-friendly poses she struck for her boyfriend. No one can see past it.
Harriet Miers, the woman who President Bush has appointed to the Supreme Court is no Lynndie England, of course. But clearly, no one – no men – know quite what to make of her. They can’t see past the wacky hair-dos and the way-too-conservative monocolor suits. Conservative cheerleader? “Office wife” as Maureen Dowd sneered? Or just competent and tough – tough enough to make it through Dallas legal circles at a time and place when women weren’t welcome in that profession?
The conversation about Miers – and the whispers about her unmarried status – would be disheartening if she were a Democrat. But watching Republicans turn on each other, well, it’s just a little more (unneeded) evidence that they don’t really mean it when they talk about equal status for women, here or overseas. Feminist rhetoric is trotted out to keep the home fires burning but it’s meaningless in any other context.
I’m in Washington for a few days where the home fires are burning on another story: the Karl Rove/Judith Miller/Valarie Plame/Joe Wilson soap opera. I’m still unmoved. But I kinda have to sit up and pay attention or the Big Media guys will come and take away my secret decoder ring. And I only just got a new one a few months ago.
Professor Jay Rosen has done a wonderful job on this story, analyzing it from the point of view of a loyal Times’ reader. As Marc Cooper says, Rosen’s post is well worth your time.
That’s all for now. Sorry for the light posting – and more apologies for what will be another light week coming up – but we should have all our different problems resolved shortly.
As they used to say on black-and-white TV: Please stand-by, our technicians (and writers) are working to correct the problem.

Posted by Chris Nolan at 11:44 AM | Permalink

Lions and Tigers and Bears….

Oct
8
2005

Even the Yellow Brick Road had its problems.
Yes, we had a few tech glitches our first day. Most of them should be cleared up by now. The email alerts – courtesy of our friends at Feedblitz – are up and running. And our pals at Feedburner have gotten our RSS/Syndication/My Yahoo feeds in order. The technically inclined among you might notice that the labels for these things haven’t changed in the move. To you I say: find something more interesting to read.
Might I suggest a peek at new posts from our writers?
Mr. Trevino – on the road from the East Coast to his new home here in San Francisco – files a lovely and loving tribute to a friend. Believe me, I never thought I’d say this, but this is our kind of cat blogging.
Ms. Klosky has a few thoughts on how the California school system treats its junior sales assoc- er, students.
And Mr. Brauchli has a few observations about Congressman Tom DeLay.
Me? I’m traveling. Today it’s ConvergeSouth in Greensboro where Mr. Ed Cone and a host of regular folks with blogs treated me and other conference participants to some fine, fine BBQ. In a week I’ll be in New York for a more corporate sort of event, BlogOn. There’s still plenty of time to register for BlogOn, by the way. And there’s a handy commercial button lower down on the page that will link you there directly.
And yup, send in those bug reports. There’s always room for improvement.

Posted by Chris Nolan at 7:34 AM | Permalink

Baby, This Ain’t Kansas

Oct
5
2005

This has gotta be what Dorothy felt like when she woke up in Oz. Only without the house. The faces all look the same, but they’re different. And there’s color, instead of musty old black and white. And the whirlwind we went through to get here…you don’t wanna know.
But really and truly, things are still the same.
Welcome to Spot-on.com, the new home of the writers who brought you “Politics From Left to Right.” Bookmark this new address! Change your RSS readers. This is where we plan to be for a long, long time.
We’re a bit more organized now. It’s easier to move from one writer to another, our navigation is cleaner and easier to understand. We have email alerts! And we’re prettier, of course.
We still have a few kinks to work out (send ‘em in, we’ll fix ‘em). But we’re ready to provide you with the same smart insights and commentary that characterized “Politics From Left to Right.”
Let me take a moment to introduce them.
Christopher Brauchli writes weekly (usually on Wednesday) on a range of topics, foreign and domestic. Coming to you from Boulder, Colo., it’s safe to say he’s not a big fan of the current administration and his take on what’s going on in Washington is as dry as the mountain air.
Deborah Klosky writes regular on things domestic – really domestic. Klosky, a seasoned reporter, has commented on everything from kiddie birthdays to the place that Trader Joe’s has in our lives. Want to know what a feminist thinks? Read Klosky.
Josh Trevino, co-founder of Redstate.org, started writing on-line as the pro-Iraqi war blogger Tacitus. He joins us to give the “right” perspective on foreign and domestic affairs.
As for me, well, this isn’t about me. It’s about what stand alone journalism can and should be. A little more than a year ago, I said “it’s not just blogging anymore.”
Today, I hope, you can see why.

Posted by Chris Nolan at 4:32 PM | Permalink

Moving Day

Sep
25
2005

Apologies for the weekend service outage.
Some of you may have noticed that our soon-to-be-former hosting service, PowWeb, was hacked earlier in the weekend and some nice folks came in and redecorated the front page of the site.
That’s all fixed now. But we’re moving. So things will be a bit quiet for a day or so while Mr. Technology busies himself with various TCP/IP protocol and other issues related to high-tech pulleys and wires and stuff like that.
This is part of our long-promised expansion, yes. But we’re not quite ready to fork over the gory details. Soon, however, soon!

Posted by Chris Nolan at 12:42 PM | Permalink

Help Wanted: Intern Who Can Spell

Sep
25
2005

Wanna be an intern for Politics From Left to Right?
If so, see this listing over at Craigslist(This listing has expired). Pass it around to your friends.
The internship doesn’t pay but you’ll get some cool experience and you’ll learn a lot about on-line publishing. You need to be enrolled in college or grad school, with a computer and regular on-line access.
You will also become a hero or heroine to our readers who are undoubtedly weary of reading my typo-laden prose. That’s why strong spelling and proofreading skills are required.

Posted by Chris Nolan at 12:40 PM | Permalink

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