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Escaping the hamster wheel of web publishing
December 17, 2012 12:52 PM   Subscribe

Brian Lam quit Gizmodo after feeling burnt out from a frantic digital existence. “I was tired of doing posts that were obsolete three hours after I wrote them,” Mr. Lam said. “I wanted evergreen content that didn’t have to be updated constantly in order to hunt traffic. I wanted to publish things that were useful.”
posted by winecork (53 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
"I just didn't feel like there were any more stolen iPhones out there for me", he added wistfully.
posted by boo_radley at 12:58 PM on December 17, 2012 [26 favorites]


That's OK, Brian. I stopped reading Gizmodo after feeling burnt out on hundreds of daily posts that were trivial, uninteresting, and merely existed to drive traffic rather than inform readers.
posted by chimaera at 12:58 PM on December 17, 2012 [52 favorites]


Pictured: Mr. Lam emerging at long last from his sunken realm. "The Crown of Coral lay too heavy 'ponst my brow," the erstwhile sea-king said, his body girded with eelgrass and kelp
posted by theodolite at 1:09 PM on December 17, 2012 [22 favorites]


When Blake wrote poetry about the "dark Satanic mills," he was most likely referring to mindless content mills like Gizmodo.
posted by naju at 1:09 PM on December 17, 2012 [17 favorites]


It must be easy to go surfing every day if you run a gadget website that basically says "The best smartphone is still the iPhone. It’s the truth."

Hilariously, a caveat in its meager smartphone section is "On AT&T, get the HTC One X+ if you don't mind the lack of reviews."

Basically, this is a gadget review site for people who have or who are thinking of purchasing iPhones.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:11 PM on December 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I didn't realize he started Wirecutter, which is sane and generally excellent, unlike Gizmodo [or Engadget], which is a raging fire hose of shit.
posted by mcstayinskool at 1:12 PM on December 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


Basically, this is a gadget review site for people who have or who are thinking of purchasing iPhones.

Be sure to ask about Gizmodo's five-finger discount! ;)
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:13 PM on December 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


...which is a raging fire hose of shit.

I'm borrowing that (if you don't mind). Bored with merely writing "poor", "superficial" or "inaccurate" on these student papers I'm marking.
posted by Wordshore at 1:16 PM on December 17, 2012 [40 favorites]


I loved this article and I was glad to hear that Wirecutter is working out. I really love that site, I go to it to save time if I need something like a new wifi access point, knowing they've gone through the endless crap on all those other sites to write a personal review of some product I've never heard of but is rock solid and does what it is supposed to do.

For the most part, the reviews on crowded market segments aren't meant for gadget freaks, but for any normal person just trying to solve a technology problem in their life. If any of my extended family asks what kind of phone they should get I would recommend the iPhone above and beyond others but warn them of costs, much like Wirecutter does. I also like how Wirecutter handles flat screen TVs. I used to follow that segment very closely and what "the best" TV was changed about every 2 months and everyone argued on sites about why, but honestly, about once a year a really good solid choice comes out that doesn't break the bank and wirecutter always seems to nail it on those.
posted by mathowie at 1:21 PM on December 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


YES! Finally a website with lists of technology and the ranking of.
posted by stltony at 1:21 PM on December 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I forgot to mention it was great that Kevin Kelley's Cool Tools was mentioned. That's also one of the only other gadget-ish site I like, mostly due to real reviews from people that used a thing and loved it.
posted by mathowie at 1:22 PM on December 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Basically, this is a gadget review site for people who have or who are thinking of purchasing iPhones.

I don't need a gadget site to tell me something like that, esp. when for my own wants and needs that advice is demonstrably wrong. Does the i-heart-ios-4-evah crowd ever go back and re-test new android versions? Pssst...you've been passed.

However, wirecutter is very nice for stuff like say economy earbuds, the kind of product that I'd like some kind of vetted opinion on, rather than going down the rabbit hole of amazon reviews. I don't make these kind of purchases often, and I'd rather have someone else doing the dirty work of testing this crap out. That has value to me, plus it has the added benefit of something that doesn't push 100 articles on to an RSS feed every hour. Because fuck that.
posted by mcstayinskool at 1:22 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I regularly refer to The Wirecutter for reviews, and I've bought a few things they've rated highly, with good results. They appear to put a lot of time into their research, and reach out to third party reviewers for input at times. They're just one data point in my research process, but I find them pretty useful.
posted by schoolgirl report at 1:23 PM on December 17, 2012


What use is useful nowadays?
posted by fairmettle at 1:26 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's a pity, because his baritone really anchored the songs; Peter Cetera alone gets a bit shrill.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:34 PM on December 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, you said "Gizmodo". Nevermind.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:35 PM on December 17, 2012


I'm going to be so excited when we all stop comparing cellphones.
posted by roger ackroyd at 1:42 PM on December 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


By then we'll just be comparing Holoscreens or teleportation devices.
posted by Twain Device at 1:45 PM on December 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


When Blake wrote poetry about the "dark Satanic mills," he was most likely referring to mindless content mills like Gizmodo.



Gawker, Gawker churning fright
In decisions never right,
What immoral hand or eye
Could shame thy tearful dignity?


(Personally, I could do this all day, but the original is actually too appropriate to the situation make parodying it worthwhile.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:53 PM on December 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


I too resolve be slightly less evil!

Or at least to be lazier about my evil doing.

This could be the start of a movement towards inertia!
posted by srboisvert at 1:55 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's interesting that the business model has shifted from paid ads to affiliate links- this is also happening in the podcasting world; either through the podcaster's website or through "offer codes" at checkout.
posted by jenkinsEar at 1:57 PM on December 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Brian Lam was able to give this short interview as he left Gizmodo HQ.
posted by 4ster at 2:09 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your former job was bad and you should feel bad.
posted by tommasz at 2:09 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you choose to treat the Web like a giant hole into which you must shovel content in the hopes that the Web will one day be full of your content, you're doing it wrong.

I just left a company where that had to be repeated monthly, and it never sank in. If traffic was sagging, it was just a sign to management that we needed to shovel more content into the hopper. It's a recipe for burnout, and if your brand depends on a perception that the content you have on offer is at all exclusive or unique, you're undermining it.

Before the last place, I worked on a 24-hour news site where we learned, to our delight, that slowing the amount of content we posted from around 100 items a day to closer to 20 caused traffic to increase, time on site to improve and bounce rates to drop. A small subset of the readership complained bitterly because we weren't flooding them with new stuff. The majority responded well because—according to those who commented—they felt like the stuff we were putting in front of them was more carefully considered (or curated, if you prefer that term).
posted by mph at 2:10 PM on December 17, 2012 [18 favorites]


Metafilter: What use is useful nowadays?
posted by Windopaene at 2:10 PM on December 17, 2012


However, wirecutter is very nice for stuff like say economy earbuds,

Why do you think that this is any different for those of us who see a smartphone in exactly the same way as earbuds? The ONLY reason I stay on iPhone is a) i don't make these kinds of purchases often, just like you and earbuds and b) i don't want the hassle of moving all my shit like music, pictures, music production apps, files WHATEVAH onto a new operating system, etc.
posted by spicynuts at 2:31 PM on December 17, 2012


(or curated, if you prefer that term).

We generally don't.
posted by Jimbob at 2:41 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why do you think that this is any different for those of us who see a smartphone in exactly the same way as earbuds?

If you view a multiple-hundred dollar purchase (or multiple-thousand, if you get sucked into a telecom 2-year contract to get your phone "cheap") the same way you do a minor purchase like e.g. $30 earbuds, then fine. But I don't, and so those two decisions are different for that reason.

Like I said though, I don't have a huge problem with a gadget site telling me the iPhone is the best smartphone, and in Wirecutter's defense, they implicitly acknowledge this by covering "The Best Android phone" separately.

b) i don't want the hassle of moving all my shit like music, pictures, music production apps, files WHATEVAH onto a new operating system, etc.

This is an entirely reasonable point of view, but fwiw this is about 98% of why Apple is never going to get my $$.
posted by mcstayinskool at 2:51 PM on December 17, 2012


The internet isn't a giant hole, it's a shouting match. You gotta keep on screaming for attention, and yell about THAT NEW THING otherwise people will be distracted by your louder, more up-to-the-second competitors. And if you don't have something new to shout, take a moment to listen to the next office over and shout what they just said, but slightly differently. NEW NOISE!
posted by filthy light thief at 2:52 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


However, wirecutter is very nice for stuff like say economy earbuds,

I just found out I've been wearing my earbuds upside down.
posted by dirigibleman at 2:52 PM on December 17, 2012


this is about 98% of why Apple is never going to get my $$.

By which I mean, for my purposes, if Apple is going to push me into a walled garden that makes my music, pictures, files, WHATEVAH incredibly hard/pain-in-the-ass to extract: let me tell you where you can stick it, Apple.
posted by mcstayinskool at 2:55 PM on December 17, 2012


Like I said though, I don't have a huge problem with a gadget site telling me the iPhone is the best smartphone, and in Wirecutter's defense, they implicitly acknowledge this by covering "The Best Android phone" separately.

Do you have a link for that story?
posted by KokuRyu at 3:06 PM on December 17, 2012


The web publishing business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:08 PM on December 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


[Geez folks, is there nothing you can't turn into some Apple vs. Google rant? Please try to chill and not turn this into a soapbox. Thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 3:11 PM on December 17, 2012 [15 favorites]


NEW NOISE!

"Evergreen content" f'rinstance?
posted by notyou at 3:11 PM on December 17, 2012


...a movement towards inertia!

Excellent. I'm in.
posted by ovvl at 3:18 PM on December 17, 2012


the business model has shifted from paid ads to affiliate links- this is also happening in the podcasting world

NOT FAST ENOUGH given that every other podcast I listen to is still trying to flog me the same old Audible and Squarespace deals. "Offer code at checkout", my ass: it's still an ad as far as I'm concerned.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 3:23 PM on December 17, 2012


KokuRyu: Do you have a link for that story?

Best Android Phone
posted by malthusan at 3:28 PM on December 17, 2012


It's interesting that the business model has shifted from paid ads to affiliate links- this is also happening in the podcasting world; either through the podcaster's website or through "offer codes" at checkout.

A heck of a lot of ads on broadcast radio are the same way. Places like Legalzoom or Carbonite or LifeLock or 1800Flowers will have an offer code specifically to the show they are advertising on, such as RUSH or SEAN. I assume the practice seeped down to the podcast world.
posted by riruro at 4:08 PM on December 17, 2012


Aramaic's Rule: eventually, all discussions on any topic whatsoever will devolve into an argument about Apple product strategy.

The more technical the discussion, the sooner this occurs, but it is inevitable in all human discourse.

Apparently.
posted by aramaic at 4:34 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apologies for feeding the derail. I like Wirecutter. I don't like Gizmodo. I'm happy that guy escaped Gizmodo. I shouldn't have engaged in anything Apple.

In conclusion, raging fire hose of shit.
posted by mcstayinskool at 5:12 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm still kind of amazed that people are still butthurt about the whole "stolen iPhone" thing - it's one thing to like a companies products, but I don't get why someone would actually go to the point of getting angry about company having some secrets revealed a few months a head of schedule. It's not "stealing" to find something in a bar, and give it back to the owner when they ask for it.
posted by delmoi at 5:40 PM on December 17, 2012


New York Times Wirecutter Wired Gizmodo Gawker Apple eBay Half.com Gap Old Navy Amazon Hearst Good Housekeeping Whole Earth Catalog

I feel burned out just from reading that garbage.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:47 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gawker, Gawker churning fright
In decisions never right,
What immoral hand or eye
Could shame thy tearful dignity?


Will I ever be free of that loose rhyme?
posted by sourwookie at 6:03 PM on December 17, 2012


This story cuts too near the bone.

Now, if you excuse me, this content won't farm itself.
posted by Mezentian at 6:07 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not "stealing" to find something in a bar, and give it back to the owner when they ask for it.

This is a very disingenuous way to explain what happened.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:55 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not "stealing" to find something in a bar, and give it back to the owner when they ask for it.

Not sure what you would call "stealing", but if you know the name and workplace of the owner of this thing you found, and you take it home instead of leaving it at the restaurant's lost and found, and you make only an alleged token attempt to get it back to them, and then you sell it to a tech tabloid for $5k who want to publicize it against the owner's obvious wishes—we're not talking hero of the people type stuff.
posted by fleacircus at 2:39 AM on December 18, 2012


The web publishing business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.

So, much like any other business web based or otherwise.

we're not talking hero of the people type stuff.

Indeed not, but we're not talking about anything particularly concerning, horrible, or relevant as well.
posted by juiceCake at 5:59 AM on December 18, 2012


It's not "stealing" to find something in a bar, and give it back to the owner when they ask for it.

Let's face facts, delmoi: He's going on the lam.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:24 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not "stealing" to find something in a bar, and give it back to the owner when they ask for it.

He didn't give it back to the owner. He sold it to a third party, who also didn't give it back when asked, but only after disassembling the item (damaging it in the process).
posted by dirigibleman at 10:12 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


What do y'all feel about The Verge?
posted by Apocryphon at 3:29 PM on December 18, 2012


You can imagine my confusion when I thought this post was in reference to Brian Lamb.
posted by matkline at 3:32 PM on December 18, 2012


Metafilter: New York Times Wirecutter Wired Gizmodo Gawker Apple eBay Half.com Gap Old Navy Amazon Hearst Good Housekeeping Whole Earth Catalog

And, on Fridays, Flash Fun.
posted by Pinback at 4:16 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


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