Today’s Thought: We need to build cool shit

Rob Curley has had an unofficial mission statement at the newspapers he has worked at: Build cool shit.

That’s the only way we are going to turn around the journalism industry. With that in mind, here is some cool Web journalism shit to check out:

  1. Lawrence Journal-World – Anything this paper and its parent company spits out is worth checking out.
  2. Las Vegas Sun: Flight Delay Calculator – It’s a great idea and implementation. I’d like to see print do this. Oh wait, print can’t.
  3. onBeing – Spend 10 minutes on this feature and you’ll be convinced just how cool this feature is.
  4. EveryBlock – Get information (news, crime statistics, real estate listings, etc, etc, etc) about your city and neighborhood down to the block level. It’s a great concept that only works on the Web. Too bad it is only in three cities so far.
  5. The New York Times: The Met’s New Greek and Roman Galleries – This feature allows us to actually experience the Met’s galleries. We have 3D steerable photos, audio narration and more. It’s the next best thing to actually getting to see the galleries in person. It would also make a fine companion piece for someone who attends the galleries and wants to learn more.
  • But if we build cool shit, we may just have piles of cold shit.

    I came to the realization after a newsroom conversation today that I have two distinct “classes” of friends: those that are “connected” and those that aren’t.

    It’s the ones that aren’t that I suddenly found interesting.

    They’re not some gaggle of technological luddites or anything, they are by and large normal people with normal lives… who have never heard of Twitter. They don’t blog and they don’t follow blogs either. They use computers, they have broadband connections, they find things with Google, but they go days before checking their email. They have mobile phones but they don’t send text messages. They don’t fear technology… but they don’t wallow in it either.

    It is to these people that our “cool shit” can be meaningless.

    And I worry. I worry because they far out number my “connected” friends. Do they know something I don’t?

  • As I stated in my blog post on how Rob Curley’s strategy could work in other newspapers, we need to focus on building useful things, not just cool things. Especially if those things need to make money, which I argue may not be the way newspapers need to go.

    Also, keep in mind the amount of money and time it takes to build cool stuff. If that cool stuff is attached to a business, it’s assumed that it will offer a return on that investment.

  • “Build cool shit”: I like it.

    Now all we have to do is write cool shit too…