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Posts Tagged ‘brijit’

Orr Shtuhl Launches Wordsworth. Music Lovers Rejoice.

In editorial on Wednesday, 18 June 2008 at 13:41

Orr Shtuhl was our arts and culture editor from the time we launched publicly until Brijit went on hiatus a little more than a month ago. I hired Orr on the spot when I met him early last September because, well, he’s got real skills. I’m thrilled to share that he’s now putting his smart, passionate voice to work in a handful of exciting places.

First and foremost, he’s launched, Wordsworth, a blog with the beautifully simple tag “Because they are.”  He describes it as “a blog dedicated to music and the words therein. Accordingly, there will be words to read and music to listen to…” He’ll also be regularly updating a themed, handpicked selection of a dozen tracks on Muxtape — the current collection of “Creepy Love Songs” is terrific. And finally, he’s running a column at The Morning News, a Brooklyn-based site that’s lucky to have the opportunity to showcase Orr’s savvy brand of music criticism.

I’m putting all three of Orr’s efforts into my personal rotation pronto… anyone who loves music should do the same.

Brijit on

In brijit on Friday, 23 May 2008 at 10:54

Since we launched last October, Brijit has received an overwhelmingly positive response in the media. Marci Alboher writes the Shifting Careers blog for the New York Times, and first mentioned Brijit not long after we launched. I spoke with her earlier this week. Apparently she came back after some time out of town, and told a colleague how useful she found Brijit as a tool for catching up with things she may have missed while she was gone. But alas…

Brijit is featured today in Marci’s blog; we’re currently the lead post on Shifting Careers. Thanks for sharing Brijit with your readers, Marci. Here’s the bit I was most jazzed about:

“The comments to this post are great reading — users of the site offer their suggestions on how to tweak Brijit’s business model and one of the site’s writers weighs in on why the site is appealing to contributors.”

That’s you, Brijit fans. Please don’t hesitate to comment on and tell the world how much you miss the 100-word version.

David Breashears’ Storm Over Everest

In Abstract Alerts, brijit on Tuesday, 20 May 2008 at 9:24

Now here, on Brijit. Thanks to Brijiteer Adrienne Jenkins for allowing me to publish her abstract without a fee.

New Abstract On Brijit. Anyone Else Want To Write One?

In Abstract Alerts, brijit, editorial on Monday, 19 May 2008 at 10:45

Great feedback everyone. Thanks for the terrific show of support. Very helpful as I continue my conversations with potential investors and partners.

I’ve decided that, at least for this week, I’m going to try to do an abstract or two a day — only good stuff. It’s obviously a poor substitute for a fully-staffed Brijit, but it’s better than nothing, and it just feels like the right thing to do as try to find a home for the service while simultaneously closing it down. Here’s one I wrote last night: “Can a Dead Brand Live Again?” by Rob Walker in the 18 May 2008 issue of the New York Times Magazine.

If anyone else wants to write an abstract of something great that they read, watched, or listened to on one of our 100-plus sources, please let me know. If there’s enough interest, I’ll put a process in place to include abstracts from the Brijit community. I think I can handle edits on about a dozen abstracts a day. Leave a comment here if you’re in. Would love to have you. Tell your friends!

To be clear, though (and I don’t even have the technology resources at the moment to change the text of the Brijit site to reflect this): WE ARE NOT PAYING FOR ABSTRACTS AT THIS TIME. Many in the comments have suggested that the site could thrive without the $5 fee — we’re about to find out, albeit on a small scale. I hope you won’t let it dissuade you from writing.

Also, you may have noticed that you’ve stopped receiving your email digests from Brijit. Sorry about that — we know it’s a great product, and if we can figure out a way to come through on the other side, we’ll be makign them a priority from a business development perspective. But we’ve spoken with our friends at SilverPop, our email newsletter provider, and given the situation, we both agreed that we needed to stop sending Brijit emails, at least for now.

Honk If You Love Brijit!

In brijit on Thursday, 15 May 2008 at 6:55

We’ve been proud to work with so many talented and dedicated writers over the past 6+ months. Together we’ve published nearly 16,000 abstracts, covered more than 100 sources, and provided a service that’s proven valuable to hundreds of thousands of people.

Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we’ve run out of money, and can no longer afford to pursue our vision of adapting great long-form content for a short-form world, at least not as a stand-alone company. As recently as yesterday morning, we thought we had the funding in place to continue our work together. But as it turns out, we don’t.

I’m sorry to share that we are ceasing publication of Brijit, at least for the time being, and possibly for good. Beginning today, I’ll be blogging here, and will keep you up to date on our status. I’m still working hard to find a home for Brijit and our community of smart readers, listeners, watchers, and writers. In the meantime, I hope you’ll stick with us on this blog.

Writer payments for all May abstracts published through the 15th will be made next week. As always, we appreciate the good work. And please don’t hesitate to reach out to me via email or comments here on the blog.

Digg for the Rest of Us

In brijit, editorial, publishing, social media on Wednesday, 16 April 2008 at 11:17

As a user, I find Digg worthless. Whew. It feels so good to say it out loud!

Of course, as the CEO of a small-but-growing online media company, I’d give my left pinky toe for Digg’s traffic. But I don’t find the site helpful, and I’d be reluctant to put my name on its virtual masthead, because so much of what floats to the top of Digg is, well, crap like this.

This isn’t me being an elitist, mind you. I love Digg in theory (communism works in theory, right?); the idea of a community of individuals working independently to promote great content is actually near and dear to my heart. But in practice, Digg as it’s currently constituted is no meaningful filter – it’s little more than a sieve. Sure, you’ll find an occasional gold nugget – but you’ll spend hours in hip waders with your hands in the muck trying to find it. And the irony is that the bigger Digg gets, the less valuable it becomes, because more and more muck is being poured into the system.

This reality means Digg is part of the information overload problem, not part of the solution. The signal-to-noise ratio has deteriorated to the point that the filter needs a filter. And doesn’t that defeat the purpose? I mean, who’s got the time?

As it turns out, we do. At noon Eastern today, Brijit will begin covering Digg. Digg, you ask? Alongside the New Yorker and This American Life and The Daily Show and Pitchfork? You bet. There’s great content there, and in the context of Brijit, we think Digg can be a valuable resource for the rest of us, busy people without the time or the inclination to go story-fishing in an ocean of crap.

Brijit takes Digg’s most popular, pulls out the most interesting and substantial items, and sets our community of smart readers, writers, and editors to work boiling them down to 100 words or fewer. And while we’ll credit that we found it in Digg, every abstract links back to the original source, to save you time.

We’re also adding coverage of YouTube and Techmeme today, for different reasons. YouTube has a high clutter factor, too, but it’s search-driven in a way that Digg isn’t, which makes for a better experience for the casual user – you dive in, find what you’re looking for, and hop out. Here the Brijit abstract serves more of a serendipity and discovery function for people with neither the time nor the inclination to visit YouTube every day. As for Techmeme, it’s a pretty terrific algorithmic filter, valuable in almost every way, and we think that a wider audience of non-tech folks would appreciate some of what bubbles up there each day, in a shorter format.

So there you have it. Brijit is covering Digg, YouTube, and Techmeme, so busy people don’t have to work so hard. We hope you’ll let us know what you think.

Respect Your Librarian. But Feel Free To Google.

In brijit, publishing, social media on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 at 14:51

I spoke at a gathering of librarians last week. Thanks to Jill O’Neill at the National Federation of Advanced Information Services (NFAIS) for including me. The 50-year-old organization “for groups that aggregate, organize and facilitate access to information” was hosting a one-day forum on The Future of Bibliographic Control, and wanted Brijit there to talk about user-generated content. I’m always happy to introduce Brijit to a new audience, and with Philadelphia only a quick Amtrak ride away, I was glad to do it.

The other speaker on user-generated content was Susan Chun, the founder of Steve, the art museum social tagging project. Susan has set out to make museum collections more accessible by creating a tool that allows professionals, enthusiasts, and laypeople alike to tag items in more mainstream, less technical ways. Kind of a for museums. Love it.

She pegged her talk around an email she’d seen while working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. After hearing the story, it’s hard to imagine anyone questioning the value of collaborative, consumer-focused tagging, especially to institutions with large collections.

The author of the email in question was trying to locate a specific painting. He could describe what it looked like in some detail: a “renaissance” painting with an “hourglass” on a “table” in front of a “man.” But the author knew neither the artist’s name nor the title of the painting. And despite the fact that the Met had a terrific academic record of the painting, replete with provenance going back more than a century, Susan was only able to locate it by asking around among the experts she knew in the museum. Tag it with terms people use, and finding this painting is a cinch. Tag it exclusively with traditional bibliographic information, and it remains hidden.

Project Steve and Brijit are attacking different problems in different ways, but the overarching philosophy is the same. Give people the ability to collaborate and be creative within a structured environment, stand back, and watch the magic happen. My presentation on the hybrid editorial model (slides here soon) highlighted this point.

As I told the NFAIS audience, I know practically nothing about what they were discussing most of the day. I’m no expert on the library-publisher supply chain. I’m unfamiliar with the alphabet soup of industry organizations and projects, from NISO and UKSG‘s KBART working group to the OCLC or the EEBO. And I’m not at all interested in whether a particular document is considered a monograph or a serial. And neither is (almost) anybody else.

We’re lucky to have librarians and systems that have put us on a firm curatorial footing for generations. But they have to negotiate legacy systems in a way that we Web-native organizations don’t. I don’t envy the task of trying to shoehorn modern content creation and distribution into standards of a bygone era.

One of the other presenters talked of her frustration with a colleague who lamented the fact that people check Google before the library’s own catalog system. I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry.

The metadata of ISSN X, volume this, page that, is not meaningful to the vast majority of people. Metadata at Brijit means the basics of how most people want their content in an increasingly online, mobile world: title, author, source, date, and TAGS. On an article by article basis. And everything with a link back to the underlying material (where available), so that you can go right to it. We’ve built Brijit to dovetail with consumer behavior, not fight it. It’s a search-driven, link-based, short-form world, and we’re just living (and working) in it.

Are We Really Still Talking About the Merits of Linking in 2008?

In brijit, editorial, publishing on Monday, 31 March 2008 at 14:05

It was all I could do not to write a headline laced with profanity, such is the depth of my frustration. (My colleagues talked me down.)

Brijit has enjoyed a great run of mainstream media visibility over the past couple of months, by pretty much any standard. We were on the cover of the Life section of USA Today, the lead example in a piece titled Services cater to our speeded-up lives.” We got a nice mention on MSNBC in a story called “How to dig out from the information avalanche.” And last week we appeared in the April issue of Wired, which identified Brijit as a prime example of The Human Touch,” one of “nine trends driving business in 2008.” Great stuff for any company, especially a startup like ours. Just one problem: none of these actually linked to!

Now, I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but these particular masters of mainstream media are killing me. According to Comscore, MSNBC had 28 million unique visitors in January. USA Today’s sites had more than 8 million, and Wired 2 million. These are big brands with big audiences, the kind of audiences that entrepreneurs like me would ordinarily salivate over. If some small fraction of these audiences finds its way to one of these articles, and some small fraction of that fraction clicks through to visit Brijit, and some small fraction of that fraction likes what they see, sticks around, and shares Brijit with their friends, well, that’s a big deal for a site like ours. Which is why it’s so enraging to be written about but NOT linked to.

When we launched late last year, it was a piece by Frank Ahrens in the The Washington Post that brought us to the world’s attention. More than four months later, we continue to see a trickle of referrals from this story. Why? Because on first reference, there’s a link to Brijit. Now, The Washington Post is about as mainstream as mainstream media gets, but they get it. This isn’t complex neuroscience. This is common courtesy. Hell, this is the Golden Rule we’re talking about: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

If you’re a publisher, you want other publishers linking to you. If you’re a reader, you want easy access to whatever it is you want to read, listen to, or watch. It’s pretty simple. So what, exactly, is wrong with USA Today, MSNBC, Wired, and the host of other outlets that still haven’t instituted link-friendly standards? Are they so desperate to keep people on their sites that they’re willing to treat their readers with such disrespect? Do they think not linking is the key to consumer satisfaction? Really?

I know this is well-worn ground. It’s pretty common knowledge at this point that the link is the coin of the realm online. The blog as a medium is built on a foundation that linking is good. So is Google. So is Yahoo!. And so is Brijit. And when Tom Rosenstiel, who supervised The State of the News Media 2008 report for the Project for Excellence in Journalism, goes on Bob Garfield’s On the Media and declares that “your website should be a way-station, a place that can help me get to where I want to go. If it were a dead-end street, a cul-de-sac, it would be less useful to me,” you’d think that everyone was on board.

They’re not.

Brijit in Wired!

In brijit, editorial on Tuesday, 25 March 2008 at 9:10

The April issue of Wired magazine is online, with a big piece on their 9 big trends for 2008. Number 9? “The Human Touch,” featuring Brijit as the lead example of “ventures that are using people, rather than algorithms, to filter the Internet’s wealth of information.”

Brijit for Facebook Will Save You Time, Make You Smarter, and Earn You Money. Seriously.

In brijit, social media on Tuesday, 5 February 2008 at 16:43

I’ve tried really hard not to endlessly flack Brijit in this space. But today we’re introducing Brijit for Facebook, and I can’t help myself — it’s just really cool, and I hope you’ll indulge me.

My 100-word abstract:

Wish you had the time to read cover-to-cover or never miss an episode? So do we. At Brijit, we gather 100 great sources and boil them down to 100 words to save you time. Now Brijit for Facebook lets your friends be your guide to the world’s best content, as we make it easy to share what you’re reading, listening to, and watching. Find it on Brijit, and your friends can see it on Facebook. And if you want to write for fun or profit, Brijit will even pay you $5 or more every time we publish one of your abstracts. It’s that simple.

Kudos to Benjamin Dorr, Allan Chan, Brent Thorington and Richard Ponton for bringing Brijit for Facebook to life. They’ve done some pretty interesting and innovative things here.

EASY SHARING INTEGRATED BEYOND FACEBOOK — For starters, Brijit for Facebook is one of the relatively few applications that’s robustly integrated with a site outside of Facebook. Once you’ve opted in, your reading on Brijit leads seamlessly and directly to recommendations on Facebook. There are no additional steps. No share buttons to press. No comments to tack on. If you read it on Brijit, your friends can see it on Brijit for Facebook. And if they read it, you can see it — it’s a mutual-recommendation tool that requires practically no effort.

A TIME-SAVER, NOT A TIME-SUCK — From SuperPoke to Scrabulous, the vast majority of Facebook applications, fun though they may be, are for wasting time. Brijit for Facebook is all about giving you your time back. We’re 100 percent committed to developing the best possible interface for dealing handling hundreds of sources and thousands of subjects. Today’s release is our first shout at it; additional customization is coming. We also think we’re on the early side of the maturation-of-Facebook trend with an efficient, easy-to-use service that takes full advantage of all of social media’s best traits.

A WAY TO GET PAID — We’re not familiar with too many Facebook apps that actually enable you to earn money easily, but Brijit for Facebook does just that. Users are just one click away from claiming any assignment they want to abstract. Facebook users now have easy access to the Brijit writers area, where they can earn $5 or more for every abstract they write that we publish. And of course, they can show off what they write for their friends with no further effort.

In the end, we think of Brijit for Facebook as an extension of everything we’re doing at Brijit. On Brijit for Facebook, your friends become your well-read friends, and everyone gets just a little bit smarter. We hope you’ll check it out, share it with your friends, and let us know what you think.