Gawker has rebranded their new commenting system…it’s now called Kinja. The name is recycled from a project that Nick Denton worked on with Meg Hourihan starting in 2003. Kinja 1 was an attempt to build a blog aggregator without relying solely on RSS, which was not then ubiquitous. Here’s a mockup of the site I did for them in late 2003:
Luckily they got some real designers to finish the job…here’s a version that 37signals did that was closer to how it looked at launch.
Where is the team that worked on that Kinja? Nick’s still hammering away at Gawker, Meg is raising two great children (a more difficult and rewarding task than building software), programmer Mark Wilkie is director of technology at Buzzfeed, programmer Matt Hamer still works for Gawker (I think?), intern Gina Trapani is running her own publishing/development empire & is cofounder of ThinkUp, and 37signals (they worked on the design of the site) is flying high.
With all the buzz around the new Gawker design, I figured I’d dig out the first design I ever showed Nick for the site back in October of 2002:
Nick didn’t like it too much. Background too dark, masthead text not logo-y enough. Two weeks later, I sent him this, with a half-assed technicolor logo that I’d dashed off in Photoshop in like 30 minutes:
To my shock, he loved it — so much so that they’re still using the damn thing! — and that design was very close to how the site looked when it launched.
The New Yorker goes long on Gawker Media founder Nick Denton. I loved the mid-article string of quotes from Nick’s friends, admirers, and enemies:
“He’s not, like, a sociopath, but you kind of have to watch what you’re doing around him,” Ricky Van Veen, the C.E.O. of the Web site College Humor, told me.
“The villain public persona is not a hundred-per-cent true,” A. J. Daulerio, the editor-in-chief of Deadspin, Gawker Media’s sports blog, said. “It’s probably eighty-per-cent true.”
“He has fun when people say horrible things about him,” the blog guru Anil Dash said.
“I can’t lie to make him worse than he is, but he’s pretty bad,” Ian Spiegelman, a former Gawker writer, said.
“Other people’s emotions are alien to him,” Choire Sicha, another Gawker alumnus, said.
Jezebel is a new Gawker Media blog about…well, that’s not important. Anyway, the site is hosted at jezebel.com, which was the former personal domain of Heather Champ and the original home of The Mirror Project (timeline). Heather put the domain up for sale in January 2004…I guess Nick bought it?
Update: Never fear, vintage Jezebel merchandise is still available.
Upon my return to civilization last week, Greg Knauss wrote up some thoughts he had after doing the remaindered links here for two weeks. His thoughts, reproduced in full:
Over the past two weeks, David Jacobs, Anil Dash and I have attempted to reproduce (in some halting way) Jason Kottke, while the actual Jason Kottke was
in rehab on his honeymoon. The attempt, on my part at least, has been an abject failure. Or haven’t you noticed all the crappy links with “GK” at the end of them? Go-kart magazines? What the hell?
Like most of the disasters I’ve had a hand in, I’ve got a theory that both explains what happened and exonerates me. Ducking responsibility sounds better if you put on academic airs about it.
The theory: There are two kinds of bloggers, referential and experiential. Kottke is one. I, now two weeks too late in realizing this, am another.
The referential blogger uses the link as his fundamental unit of currency, building posts around ideas and experiences spawned elsewhere: Look at this. Referential bloggers are reporters, delivering pointers to and snippets of information, insight or entertainment happening out there, on the Intraweb. They can, and do, add their own information, insight and entertainment to the links they unearth — extrapolations, juxtapositions, even lengthy and personal anecdotes — but the outward direction of their focus remains their distinguishing feature.
The experiential blogger is inwardly directed, drawing entries from personal experience and opinion: How about this. They are storytellers (and/or bores), drawing whatever they have to offer from their own perspective. They can, and do, add links to supporting or explanatory information, even unique and undercited external sources. But their motivation, their impetus, comes from a desire to supply narrative, not reference it.
There’s nothing here to imply that one type of blogger is better than the other. There are literally thousands — OK, hundreds… OK, at least a dozen — of both kinds that are valuable additions to the on-going conversation/food-fight/furry-cuddle that is the Internet. My point is that Jason Kottke is a very, very good referential blogger and I am a very, very bad one. And I’m sure I wouldn’t have trouble finding a link that expresses this sentiment (many, many times over, with varying degrees of vehemence), but I’d rather say it from my own experience:
Welcome back, Jason. You’ve been missed.
After reading Greg’s thoughts, Meg reminded me that Rebecca Blood had made a distinction between filter-style and journal-style bloggers in Weblogs: A History and Perspective. If you want to generalize outside the realm of weblogs, they’re both talking about the difference between writers and editors1.
At a party a couple of years ago, I was talking to Nick Denton and he was puzzled by the number of bloggers who were getting book deals and told me that “the natural upgrade path for bloggers is from blogging to editing, not to writing”. As Greg and Rebecca note, that doesn’t apply to everyone, but it sure describes what I do here. kottke.org has always been more edited than written. I’ve never particularly thought of myself as a writer (I get by, but I wish I were better), but I do pay a lot of attention to how the writing is presented and contextualized…how the overall package “feels”.
 And if you want to go even further out on the metaphorical gangplank here, the writer/editor dichotomy compares well to that of the musician/DJ. ↩
This comment from Nick Denton (and much of the rest of the thread) demonstrates why Gawker is still worth reading on occasion. It’s disappointing Nick isn’t more involved in the day-to-day of the Gawker sites…his writing is always more entertaining than his blog empire.
In addition to weblogs.com, Verisign’s acquisition of Moreover was also announced this week. Two of the companies founders, Nick Denton and David Galbraith, have thoughts. Nick reveals that Moreover almost bought Pyra once upon a time, a little tidbit I didn’t reveal in my piece on Moreover from a couple years ago.