Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About News on the Web, Which Will Take You Two Days to Watch

time enough at last twilight zoneI don’t know what to say about Riptide, the massive oral history of digital journalism that popped up on the Web tonight.

That’s because I’ve been looking at it for a couple hours, and have no idea how much of it I’ve consumed.

But it doesn’t seem like a very significant percentage: The project, sponsored by Harvard’s Joan Shorenstein Center, revolves around interviews with more than 60 people who have played key roles in the way news and the news business has transformed in the last few decades. Sampler: Google’s Eric Schmidt, Gawker Media’s Nick Denton, Time Warner’s Jerry Levin, Twitter’s Dick Costolo, Facebooks’s Chris Cox* etc, etc, etc..

There are more than 50 hours of video on the site.

And its creators — former Time Inc. editor in chief John Huey, former New York Times digital czar Martin Nisenholtz, and former Akamai CEO Paul Sagan — say they may add more interviews down the line. So anyone who watches all of this stuff — or even wants to claim they did — is going to need an awful lot of time.

Two quick thoughts:

* Huey, Nisenholtz and Sagan provided what seems like an excellent pre-summary of their work in July, when they appeared at a Fortune Brainstorm panel with former Time editor Walter Isaacson. You can read that at Fortune.com, and I think you’ll get a pretty good sense of the topics they’re interested in. (One that I had never spent any time thinking about, but which they apparently hit on repeatedly: Reuters’ 1994 decision to license its newsfeed to Yahoo, which then gave the stories away on the Web, and helped train all of us to expect that professionally produced information wants to be free).

*I’ve watched a couple interviews in full. One with my former boss Henry Blodget, who more or less says what he’s been saying for years, along with a history of his Business Insider site. It’s quite good. The other one will provide excellent fodder for New York Times Kremlinologists: A sit-down with Times owner/publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. It’s hard for me to tell what, if anything, Sulzberger says is new here. But the fact that it’s less of an interview than a dialog between Sulzberger and Nisenholtz, one of his key former employees, who has since returned as an important adviser at the paper, sure makes it seem freighted.

Here’s the second half of that one:

*Who Facebook should really get out in public more. He’s an excellent, candid interview. I particularly enjoy the part where explains why the “social readers” Facebook encouraged recently were a very bad idea.


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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google