My First Week

This was my first week of daily blogging, so I thought I’d spend a moment to explain what I’m doing and why.

Very few weblogs do any kind of original research on a daily basis. Most either spend their time repurposing (or just linking to) original research from mainstream media or other sources, or they do commentary and analysis. Their most important role is as information filters, distilling everything going on in the world relevant to their audience and presenting only the good stuff. Finding a great filter is insanely valuable, but at the end of the day, does Waxy Links add anything new to the conversation?

So I’m going to try an experiment this year: publish something original on Waxy.org, every weekday. Not my opinions about news (opinions are cheap) and not just glorified linkblogging, but something new: original research, investigative journalism, information visualization, digitizing dead media, live reporting, or interviews. I’ll also be releasing new applications, interactive web toys, and social software throughout the year, because as much as I love journalism, I love coding just as much.

I don’t know exactly what I’ll do yet, and I don’t have many expectations. I also don’t expect it’ll drive a huge amount of traffic (or money), but I’m pretty sure it’ll be more fun than the alternatives.

This week, I wrote five stories. On Monday, I tracked a silly meme to its source and interviewed the creator, revealing some information that’s never been mentioned online before. Tuesday, I debunked one net legend’s personal ad with solid (and bizarre) evidence that I searched for, and published another that’s never been seen on the web. Wednesday, I exposed a deceptive campaign to lift a respected newspaper’s search engine rankings using social media websites. Thursday, I updated the developing story by interviewing representatives from the newspaper and its consulting firm, and interviewed several community founders about their policies regarding the practice. And today, I posted the MP3s of a rare, geeky album to the web for the first time.

So, a mix of hard and (extremely) soft news. But each story, I hope, added something completely new to the web that wasn’t there before.

That’s it. I hope you stick around. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments.

24 thoughts on “My First Week

  1. good luck, andy. i agree with you whole-heartedly about opinions being cheap and the lack of truly new content on blogs.

    the only tip would i would offer is don’t feel obligated to produce something every single day. i think over the years your readers have appreciated the quality pieces you do, even when there are long delays between them. i realize your goals are a bit different now, but i would really encourage you not to force yourself to produce ever day. the readers will always be here for you, and you’ll produce better stuff when you don’t feel obligated. (i say this from experience.)

    anyway, i’m glad you’re taking on this new project, and wish you the best of luck. so far, so good.

  2. I got a lot out of each entry, and am excited to see what you’ll have for us next. Keep it up!

    (And I’m with adm — don’t worry, we’ll still be with you if you miss a day. But hey — goals are good!)

  3. No questions, just want to add to the encouragement – been a reader for quite a while, and it’s always been a treat to see you posting. 🙂

  4. Agree with the others — have been enjoying your links and the occasional blog post for some time now; and it’s encouraging to hear that even more goodness is on the way.

    btw, I’d love to collaborate with you on a project, whether it be research or scripting.

  5. Very good objective, I’ll stick around as I did the last years.

    By the way, sometimes we forget that personal commentary can be of value even when it doesn’t break news. I sometimes notice when I hear the news of something, I head over to blogger X or blogger Y just to know what they’re thinking about this, because I kinda like their wisdom or perspective or ability to connect the pieces or something. To that other person, their perspective feels so “normal” that they might forget what they say can add value to people with another perspective or set of “knowledge puzzle pieces”.

    But of course we got a lot of this kind of commentary already — especially in the tech world it seems — so it’s not exactly a niche these days. Having you try blog only original stuff is definitely very cool.

  6. You’ve had an excellent first week, buddy!

    It’s funny. Your blog has sat in my RSS reader, just waiting for you to start writing again. When you did, you had an instant audience.

    My favorite? The Brent Spiner album. I had NO idea that it had been released and it makes me happy on a strange level.

    Thanks!

  7. I love this idea, but worry that it’s overly ambitious. If you mix it up, with some fluff, like what you did on Friday, I suppose it’s doable; otherwise you might burn out.

    And BTW, Friday’s post is more than a little iffy, copyright-wise. Just because it’s out-of-print doesn’t mean it can be made available on the web for free.

    That said, I’m off to download a few Old Yellow Eyes’ tracks — for research purposes, of course.

  8. Philipp: This site is long due for an upgrade and redesign, and that will be rolling out soon. I’ll make sure the cookie bug gets fixed

    When someone is a specialist in their field, with insider information and access that nobody else has, their analysis and opinions can be unique and new. John Gruber knows more about Apple than anyone else writing today, mainstream or not, so his insights about the company are invaluable and almost always accurate. Marc Andreessen is an extraordinarily successful entrepreneur, so his analysis of tech business is required reading. (It helps that they’re both great, natural writers.)

    Unfortunately, everybody thinks they have the same level of insight and authority. Go to Techmeme and click the “Discussion” links under any big story. Everybody’s either restating the story or giving their opinion on it, but nothing really new. (If it was original, people would be linking to their story, instead of the other way around.)

  9. Fauxpas: If you dig through my archives, you might notice I’m not a huge fan of current copyright law. If the copyright holders aren’t profiting from it (e.g. unavailable, out-of-print, or obsolete media), I don’t have too many qualms with publishing it. (And if they ever complain, I’m happy to take it down.)

    I also don’t have any issue with silly stuff, but I don’t really consider it to be filler. It’s silly, but it’s also completely unavailable online, which makes it valuable (if only to people like me and Laura). Not everything needs to be hard-hitting journalism.

    It’s entirely possible I might burn out, but I think it’s an achievable goal.

  10. Welcome back, Andy.

    As one of your very first readers (I think there’s a comment of mine somewhere on that opening post of yours), it’s been good having you back. The side-links were/are good, but the full posts is where it’s at.

    I really like the “original content” plan, though as others have mentioned, I doubt it’s feasible on a daily basis. (I’d love to be proven wrong though!)

    Again, good to have you back — and keep up the excellent work.

  11. Fink Ployd, Cub Reporter and lover of Android Standards.

    Sounds like a good business card if you ask me.

  12. It’s great to see you back to regular blogging, Andy! I’ve been following Waxy for a long time now: usually just to get at your great links. But the past week of post has been really phenomenal. You traipse the line between hard-hitting research and fun, soft news really well. In the morass of link sites and commentary, it’s very refreshing to read something new. I look forward to checking in every weekday now.

    Oh! And I love the Ink-Spots-Esque flavor to Brent Spiner’s disk.

    B

  13. Thank God you’re back, and just in time for spring semester. I was wondering where I was going to get interesting stuff to discuss with my journalism students.

  14. Looking forward to the results of your “experiment” — (many publications have been experimenting for decades with a similar product).

  15. Travis: Wise guy, eh? The difference is that I’m doing this independently, publishing online exclusively, and very often covering a beat that newspapers won’t handle because it’s too niche. I’ll also be doing quite a bit of coding and side projects, which make this more of a journalism/programming project than just pure journalism.

    But thanks for the snark! Come again!

  16. A great start so far, Andy, I always appreciate what you do with Waxy.org and am looking forward to future original content.

  17. Glad to see waxy in full effect. I, for one, welcome the mix of serious (and very unique) reporting (and data crunching) with the silly and inane.

  18. Wow. I could’ve never identified that hardware.

    As a person who has never, ever visited Waxy before, I am enjoying Andy’s return immensely.

  19. So glad to see you’re back at it Andy. This last week was great. Any chance we can get a combined feed with the link blog?

  20. Great move, Andy. Personally, though, I found sticking to a weekly schedule a mixed bag. It keeps you moving, but it tends to burn you out. The work seems like one giant continuum. I prefer to think of it as a series of independent projects that you can take your time with and enjoy. Of course, it’s easy to meander with this method.

    Anyway, best of luck. I’ll be watching.

    Kirby

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