Archive for December, 2006

More gems from Curley on the technology and newspapers

December 28, 2006

“‘Twas the days after Christmas, when all through the advertising industry,

Not a media agency was stirring, not even a mouse.”

My, my, isn’t the in between Christmas and New Year period quiet. I hope you all received what you wished for this year (as world peace hasn’t broken out I’ll hazard the guess that there are no Miss World contestants reading this). One fellow who has received a very nice Christmas present is the richly deserving Rob Curley, whom the Newspaper Association of America have named in their 20 under 40.

He answered some questions for NAA about (guess what?) the future of newspapers. Here are some highlights :

“Technology is nothing more than developing new ways of connecting with our audience and giving them something that they never knew they needed, but love having….Taking newspapers into the digital world isn’t about the coolest software; it’s about the coolest connection we can make with our audience…there seems to be so much doom and gloom out there right now when it comes to the newspaper industry, and, to be honest, there is no other period in American journalism that I wish I was a part of.”

Amen to that. He speaks the truth.


Yes! I got on Project Redstripe

December 22, 2006

Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! I’m on the team. I got it. I did it. Mouth, sing it to the sky : “I’m doing the coolest job in the world”.

If I were Alan Shearer I’d be peeling away to the Milburn Stand with my right hand in the air. And, if I were a bell, I’d be ringing.


Mike “The Wise Boss Man” Seery just sent me an email with these key sentences :

“I know that you’ve been dying to find out who will be in the Red Stripe project team, so here it is (well nearly).

Stewart Robinson, Tom Shelley, Ludwig Siegele and Joanna Slykerman are all on board and raring to go.”

Tell you the truth, I’ve know for a while, but was told to keep schtum. I got the info just before I went to New York a month ago as I walking to meet some friends. Whilst waiting in the cheese shop/cafe, over a lovely bottle of red and a plate of cheese, I downloaded my thoughts to the Moleskine.


I can’t believe what has just happened. Mike told me I’m on the team. I’m part of it. Just moments before I had been thinking about the possibilities we had ahead of us. How we could build something for the good of the world building on our incredible foundations of The Economist Group.

But, right now we need to be aware of the past but not afraid of it. We are responsible to it, but not intimidated by it. Indeed, our relationship to The Economist and its heritage should be managed in the same way that we manage our relationship with our readers. This amazing bunch of interested and interesting folk scattered to the four corners of the earth, from Nauru to New York.  We should not put any old thing up for them, and betray their trust, though neither should we be terrified of experimenting

The Economist really is a publication apart. A collective of journalists dedicated to making the world understandable. Being above the rush events, looking under appearances. Irreverent, exacting and oh so lucid.

To have this behind Project Redstripe and to be standing on the cusp of a communication revolution brings on the shakes.  We’re 15 years into the internet but the fun is only just  beginning.

Oh, oh, oh my!

I’m torn between recording this moment, eating a delicious platter of cheese and ringing everyone to tell them the news. And all this emotion is tinged with sadness, as only yesterday I heard that a close family friend had died.

What a confusing thing life can be.

On Monday I was rapturous with joy celebrating the music of the Flaming Lips in the Hammersmith Apollo. Shouting myself hoarse to the exhilirating songs of Wayne Coyne. Tuesday, I walked back from an inspiring NMK Beers and Innovation session on Social By Design. That made me even more (if that’s possible) pumped about Project Redstripe, to be told about Erik’s death. Today, this news.

I decide to listen to Wayne Coyne from the Flaming Lips singing Do you realise? A song that gets it right on just how the greatest moments of life are made richer by knowing that we’re not sticking around for long.

Do You Realize – we’re floating in space –
Do You Realize – that happiness makes you cry
Do You Realize – that everyone you know someday will die..

…You realize that life goes fast
It’s hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn’t go down
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round

Do You Realize – Oh – Oh – Oh
Do You Realize – that everyone you know
Someday will die -”

I guess all that’s left is to give everything we’ve got to Project Redstripe, and to settle on nothing less than doing something out of this world cool.


 As you can read, it was an emotional day.

Now, I can look forward to a Christmas of planning and scheming and I can’t wait to get in touch with fellow team members. Congratulations guys, let’s get stuck in.

Can we open source Project Redstripe?

December 12, 2006

The Economist generates passion.

The Economist has hugely intelligent, capable readers.

The Economist is IMHO a force for good in the world.

Hold on, doesn’t that mean that, like GNU Linux and Wikipedia, we could ask our readers not only what they wanted The Economist to be, but also ask them to help us do it.

It is clear that the six man Project Redstripe team will not have a fraction of the know how, or collective intelligence of The Economist hive mind. How great would it be to throw open the doors of development to every Economist reader?

We could ask them what we should do. What’s more, we could ask them to help us make it happen. Now, I’m sure there are those that think “Oh, he’s trying to develop stuff on the cheap”. And I could see the hypothetical point. To have hundreds of developers doing stuff for free is every flinty hearted businessman’s dream, however, I’m coming at this from the hippy end of the spectrum.

I believe that people will contribute to a project that they care about. Therefore, we have to create something our readers believe in, then let them get on with it. That would be a beautiful thing.

Or am I just being no good, peace loving, patchouli wielding, lentil shoe wearing, hippy scum? I don’t think so.



“The war’s over Lebowski. The bums lost” vs the business of giving

A sad day for the Fedoral Reserve

December 12, 2006

The Fedoral Reserve flags are flying at half mast, because my hat it missing. Yes, the fedora of the title is gone. What makes it worse is that it is a fine old hat that used to belong to my grandfather, so it is not just a case of replacing it.

I have not given up hope just yet and I’ll keep you posted on the gravest crisis to hit the F.R. yet.

Wither magazines (that don’t embrace the web)

December 12, 2006

I get very surprised, then excited, when I hear folk wondering outloud about the future of magazines or newspapers. Getting all gloomy when, to my mind there is nothing but opportunity, yet some can’t see it.

There are so many new ways media can play with its audience (and I don’t mean toy with them) but to enjoy ourselves with our readers. To find ways to interact with them, to have fun. Hell, I can’t get over the sense of being at the start of a really big adventure.

So it was heartening to find a Jeff Jarvis post on Whither magazines, that spoke to my heart, this bit in particular :

“The wise magazine will enable its community to speak among themselves. And it will also find ways to extract and share the wisdom of its crowd. This is true not just of magazines but of other, similar brands in other media (The New York Times, The Guardian, 60 Minutes, the Food Network, and most any trade publication. . .). I don’t want to know what the nation’s best-sellers are — the top books in the general-interest mass market. I want to know the best-selling and best-reviewed books among New Yorker or Times or Economist or Guardian readers. I want to know what EW’s community thinks of Borat. I want to see what Advertising Age’s crowd thinks of Time Magazine’s moves.”

You said it Mr. Jarvis.