Pushing the needle forward

Rob Curley said at the E&P Interactive Media Conference that he tries to only work on projects that “move the needle.”

If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backwards, because your competitors are always trying to outdo you. With the Web, everyone is a competitor.

Pushing the needle forward means not asking “what have we done in the past,” but instead asking, “what can we do in the future?” How can we innovate?

How can we make something better? Pushing the needle forward means realizing that your last project will never be your best project, because you’ll always be trying to make things better.

That’s why I think everyone should constantly be working to improve themselves (it’s individuals who allow companies to rest on their laurels). With that in mind, I’ve been using Lynda.com for the past month, and I have to say it’s been a complete pleasure.

I’m using the premium version, which is $375 a year (non-premium versions cost less but don’t come with exercise files). That may seem like a lot in the abstract, but it’s actually quite a bargain if you use it every week. One class at a community college could easily be that much.

So far I’ve been watching the PHP/MySQL videos (and doing the exercises along with them) and watching videos on SEO. Both have been great resources so far. The SEO videos are particularly great because I can just veg out and watch a few when I get home from work.

Unlike the PHP/MySQL videos, they don’t really require a lot of work while watching the videos. I occasionally make tweaks to my personal site and write down notes while I watch the videos. I have already seen some real SEO gains from the tips I have learned. I now am the No. 1 result for both Pat Thornton and Patrick Thornton under Google.

There are so many other subjects I plan on exploring in the next year with Lynda.com. If I’m not learning something new, or honing an existing skill, I’m moving backwards.

Journalism needs people who are constantly pushing the needle forward. I’m convinced that The Washington Post will suffer much more from Curley leaving for the Las Vegas Sun than vice versa. He is the kind of person who is always looking to push the needle forward and keep innovating.

And every employee was dedicated to pushing the needle forward, we wouldn’t have to worry about disruptive technologies and new competitors. We would be one step ahead already.

Journalism needs people who are never satisfied. The kinds of people who never, ever say, “but that’s how we’ve always done things.”

It doesn’t matter how you used to do something. It matters how you’re going to do something.

P.S. The JI set a new record in May for traffic. It’ll be a letdown if June isn’t a new record as well.