Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Firefox Very Beta Learnings + Herman's Excuse for Lack of Posts

Someone recently asked me to describe what it is like to launch a start-up. I told her it is a bit like scuba diving; you have a tank of air, things you want to accomplish with that air and a huge incentive to make that air last. Wise divers don't go it alone. It's also similar in that it's inconvenient to stick your head up while diving. So, that's my excuse for having not posted more---thanks for your patience.

Here's what's up.

Our current Firefox beta test has taught us a lot:

1. SpinSpotters must be able to find each other's work
2. People are very passionate about media bias
3. Journalists are fascinated by the promise of technologies and systems like SpinSpotter.

So, our reaction to these facts:

SpinSpotters must be able to find each other's work: Man are our users diverse in their news tastes -- from MSNBC.com to Alternet.org. This means we have tapped a broad audience---it also means we need to do a better job of helping SpinSpotters find the work of their peers. To accomplish this, we have decided to encourage SpinSpotters to focus on some of the top-rated news sites as the places to both go de-spin and to see what others have de-spun. We will be making that easy to do from our web page and, in the next few days, you should be able to find higher quality and quantity de-spins of Yahoo News, MSNBC.com, CNN, The New York Times and Yahoo! News. Now, get in there with your Spinoculars and add your voice.

People are passionate about SpinSpotting: I guess we aren't the only ones, which is nice to know. The emails about the potential of SpinSpotter have been overwhelming. Because we had so much new technology to build simply to launch, we have failed to truly reward that passion by showing off the work of the people who have joined us in this very beta stage; that will change. Our next release will offer user pages so SpinSpotters can feature their work. There is an easy work-around to that while we work on the user pages: just click "email the article" after you do the work. The landing page people get isn't great and they will need Spinoculars to see all of your brilliance but, it's there. Please email me the work you do, too---I love this stuff. My name with that circled a and then our domain and the dot-com.

Journalists are fascinated: It is always nice to have people interested in your product, but for news-junkies who have long admired courageous journalism, this feels great. It also indicates what we have always felt about the vast majority of journalists: they are serious about their craft and want to understand how their readers view their work. In fact, we saw an instance just last week where, after a user marked up a news site and edited the story with Spinoculars, the news site actually changed the article in the exact way the SpinSpotter user suggested. It is possible that this was a mere coincidence -- but it still felt cool.

Thanks for reading,

Todd Herman

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