What Craig is talking about

There has been much comment and speculation surrounding what Craig Newmark said in London a week ago and then blogged:

I’m working with some folks on technologies that promise to help people find the most trusted versions of the more important stories… and this is personal, helping out another group not associated with craigslist….

Craig was trying to clear up some misimpressions in various stories and posts that jumped off from this Guardian report but he couldn’t say much because the company is still stealth. To help clarify:

Craig invested in the news startup I’ve been working with, which I mentioned briefly back in May. He is one of our angel investors and advisor as an individual, not on behalf of Craigslist.

We’re not ready to show or describe our service in any detail; we’re still in development. Our goal is to create a platform to organize the world’s news using the best of technology, community, and editors. We see an explosion of interest in and coverage of news from incredibly varied sources around the world and see a need around that.

We plan to have a beta in the spring. And as I’ve blogged before, we will be looking for talent in various areas; we’re not ready to take on more folks yet but I’ll let you know when we are. And of course, we’ll post the jobs on Craigslist! In the meantime, stay tuned.

  • Uh, Jeff, it’s craigslist, with an “s.” Try craiglist.com and you’ll wish like I did that you didn’t try that from work ;)

  • Good luck.

  • anything i can do to help, let me know. im sure there are lots of people whove enjoyed the good work from buzzmachine and craigslist who would like this project to work. sounds like a killer ap in the making.

  • I didn’t know that you were involved. I’ll be watching this closely, and writing some posts. Startups can be hell and a hell of a lot of fun. Break a Leg!

  • Some competiition for Pajamas, eh? I’ll be tuning in.

  • Sounds like a great partnership. I’ll be scouring the Craigslist job listings :)

  • Noel
    Even if i could figure out what Pajamas is (or even if they could), I seriously see no competition whatsoever. This is nothing like that. They could be mutually beneficial; we’ll see.

  • Best of luck with it. It sounds interesting.

  • Sounds very interesting, best of luck to you. Any help in organizing & prioritizing the overload of information that’s out there will be very useful.

  • As long as you know what you’re doing. And you can express it in 25 words or less.

    BTW, if you have room for roleplaying game news, I can dig some up. According to Wizards of the Coast there are around 5 million people in the U.S. playing Dungeons and Dragons alone. Closer to a ledge market than niche. :)

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  • Fran

    the most trusted versions of the more important stories…

    How can technology be an arbitrator of trust?

    How can technology identify a more important story, a story which may not be widely dissiminated or referenced by others?

    Can technology truly mimic value judgements? Beauty can be measured but I wouldn’t think that technology alone could identify the most humourous stories. The latter would require filtering by individuals. And, when you have an individual or collective filtering for trust, accuracy or importance, you introduce the dreaded bias.

  • How can technology be an arbitrator of trust?

    It can’t, per se, but it can assemble opinions of humans. If they happen to be the humans you trust, then you’re going to place a certain weight on those opinions.

    Of course, this is more easily said than done, which is why it’s not commonplace already, although the Google rankings are built on a similar* concept.

    *not that I have any idea about this venture other than what Jeff’s disclosed here, mind you.

  • Jeff,

    I’ll be scanning CraigsList for those job postings as well ;-)

    Thanks for the “heads up”! This new venture definitely sounds intriguing, and the chance to work with you would be pretty great.

    Steve K.

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  • Tune into TheFrequency at http://www.thefrequency.com

  • Now granted, I have no knowledge of this start-up other than what I’ve seen here and on Craig’s blog. But I’m struck by this paragraph:

    Our goal is to create a platform to organize the world’s news using the best of technology, community, and editors. We see an explosion of interest in and coverage of news from incredibly varied sources around the world and see a need around that.

    Like most people, I’m assuming that this means some sort of combination of social networking and automated news aggregation. Which certainly makes sense, and I suspect there’s a need for it.

    But I wish investors would put as much effort into the writing and reporting side of the equation. It’s relatively easy to grab some VC money by promising to aggregate news into some easy-to-consume product. But there seems to be little appetite for putting money into the editorial side of things.

    There’s a place for a web-centric wire service that undercuts AP’s business model. There’s a place for a site that would automate a way for readers to underwrite long-term journalistic projects (in the same way that blog readers have financed trips overseas for their favorite bloggers).

    I could keep going on, but my point is that there is a place in this online world for both having an expertise and making money from it. I just haven’t see them come along quite yet.

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  • I largely agree with Rick’s comment; investing in organizing existing news and information certainly can be both useful and profitable (Google, anyone?) but what we need more than ever is investment in quality news reporting. It’s the tough part of any news/information/online business model: Basic news gathering is expensive, and Wall Street’s demands of late (Knight Ridder, anyone?) are powering a profit-centric media model that is slowly emasculating the core of American journalism. Bloggers can and will play a role — sometimes a terrific and powerful role — but it’s simply not enough.

    As Rick suggests, bloggers need money to do substantive reporting (Josh Marshall’s effort to raise money to hire reporters at TPM is a development worth watching.) Nor is the notion of user-created content enough. Call me old fashioned, but we need some investment in re-invented, credible newsgathering and reporting by investors at least as concerned about democracy as profit margins. That can be in mainstream papers, or alternative papers, or online, etc.

    That said, it’s possible that Craig’s/Jeff’s project will help send traffic to the best-quality information, which could drive revenues (ad, subscription, etc.) to those providers. If so, let’s hope the additional revenue is invested in best-possible journalism.

    CUT TO: Shein, sadly, not holding his breath

  • I once went to a motivational seminar and one of the speakers said: “If you want to get rich, watch what poor people do and then don’t do that.”

    I trust you will take a look at the train wreck that is Pajamas Media (OSM) and don’t do that. IMHO all they were interested in was a business plan that stated that their goal was to corner all the advertising dollars on the web while raising $3.5 million so they could do it. There was not a thought or a plan to create a quality product FIRST.

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  • Nice site I found … Plan on coming back later to spend a little time there.

  • What an awesome idea! I’d love seeing the newsfeeds when you get this going. I have CNN on all the time, as there’s so much going on every day, that I’m afraid I’ll miss somethin’. Put me on your contact list. ;)

  • I’d like that too.

  • “Our goal is to create a platform to organize the world’s news using the best of technology, community, and editors…”
    Very cool!- the old media is stactic and dead. Look at the rise in talk radio. It is a forum for the masses to comment and discuss the news organically. Participants discuss with a forum leader (i.e. host) their views and conclusions on certain timely subjects, thereby influencing and educationing the listening participants. The news is influx and ever changing, depending on the subjective input. Old media, i.e print, network news is old hat- people want to be involved. Look at the the rise in Web2.0,
    i.e. myspace, youtube etc… we are all mini reporters, reporting on our immediate universe. Good Luck!
    Trendy Amanda