apr 22

The All

I'm still sitting here overthinking The Awl, trying to decide if I have anything interesting to say about it, confused and worried that my only observation is trite: it's Suck meets Kottke, right? Update: alright, I unwisely choose to say some stuff in the comments.



posted by Choire at 4:13 PM on April 22, 2009

thanks, martha quinn!

posted by harold at 4:18 PM on April 22, 2009

OMG, I just got the awl metaphor right now! Yeah, I'm awesome.

As for the site itself, I likes it - I just don't get how I or anyone is supposed to deal with that many posts a day. I mean, at least with Jezebel there's that faint hope it might help me get laid someday.

posted by Nav at 4:42 PM on April 22, 2009

This is no where near Suck quality.

posted by Infomofo at 5:05 PM on April 22, 2009

i think that's a good comparison even though i've never read Suck. i really wanted it to be good because gawker is depressing now and i like choire's LA Times things but i read back into the archives a bit and it's just so...insubstantial. i'll probably keep reading because i'm an addict but i just hate the kottk-iness of it. not that i don't like kottke, but i don't come to him for a reading experience, i come for aggregation, whereas when i read a blog that's written by two writers, i expect, you know, writing. the posts are too short and tossed off, there's like not any real, committed writing besides that one piece they ran about New York Magazine which was kind of interesting, i guess. i know it's the two of them and they've just started and everything but right now it's what? mostly warmed-over links and a lack of content that they're trying to cover over with "personality" or whatever, like ironic, insidery crossword puzzles. "Today's crossword puzzle by Alex Pareene was wicked hard, warn't it? Herewith, the answers!" "warn't"? "herewith"? what is this, like some mcsweeney's.com silly-ass bullshit? oh wait, no, they just link to that. god, BLS.

(that was really mean. this is why i'm not allowed to write comments.)

posted by sabf at 5:38 PM on April 22, 2009

No, that wasn't really mean, sabf! You're not totally far off, in my opinion.

We're right now midway between blogging and writing, and we don't always know which way to veer. We like both things! And it'll work itself out over time.

Or it won't. :)

posted by Choire at 8:40 PM on April 22, 2009

I've found it hard to devote the solid half hour to it that it would probably take to form a solid opinion, but I agree that there are moments of brilliance. (Balk was deliciously spot-on re Dowd on Twitter.)

The frequency is working against them (there are a small handful of sites that I read comprehensively, and the volume makes it impossible to add them to the list, apparently even temporarily), as is their unwillingness to devote a little more attention to the fucking design. And the "READ ON" links are irritating -- it's the internet!, do you really think so little of your writing that you don't think it's even worth my time to scroll past it if I don't feel like reading it? WTF!

BTW, i'm just old enough to have read Suck.

posted by alesh at 9:33 PM on April 22, 2009

Upon an additional 30 secs of consideration, I notice that "Suck" links to the Dowd/Twitter post, which may skew the previous comment. Also, maybe the lack of design is a thing about modesty?

posted by alesh at 9:41 PM on April 22, 2009

Hey, Choire quoted me about a half hour after I posted that comment. So, that's pretty cool.

posted by alesh at 10:31 PM on April 22, 2009

choire - well thanks, that makes me feel less bad about it! like i said, i'm still reading and i'll be interested to see what happens. i enjoyed the shift memo, even though the personal nature of it will probably further fuel the high school reunion vibe of the comments section.

posted by sabf at 10:31 PM on April 22, 2009

It looks like a web site for Butterfinger Buzz with incidental text.

posted by mpb at 9:01 AM on April 23, 2009

Hi Choire!

Can this be my shift memo? Cuz I have returned from The Land of Over-Thinking, a gloomy place somewhere between the basement of the old Kim's Video and that empty lot on Broome where that supercondo never rose from. And I have finally, regrettably devised some almost, nearly cohesive thoughts about what I might possibly, haphazardly say.

With hedging adverbs.

But first, it's fun, right? It looks fun! This hey-these-are-things-that-intrigue-us quality -- I know this aesthetic very well!

Anyway, this is more unsolicited than an STD, but my curiosity about The Awl centers on two contradictory questions:

1) Is it too broad?

2) Is it too narrow?

Ohhhh, smack! You can't win!

Before I elaborate, allow me to say I REALLY LIKE the site. And as you once said to me about the microframe piece, not in an underminey way! I guess I'm asking: does this work as a publication? Um, does that mean business? Errrr... sorry! Maybe. But let me mistakenly try to elaborate on each:

1) I'll use Kottke as my example here, though it might as well be BoingBoing or early Gawker or whatever. The point is, no matter what one thinks of Jason's long-standing project, he's done something remarkable from the perspective of voice. It's broad, yet it's singular. Almost every day, I encounter some webpage where I think, "I could link to this, but it's actually more of a Kottke thing." And you know what? He's usually already got it! My point is not about speed, but rather that Jason has created a unique space out of his catholic taste ("liberal arts 2.0" -- whoa! that's like college broad!). But here's the important thing: Jason's actual personal tastes are even broader than what his site suggests. (Well, I only kinda know him, not super well, but either way I get this sense.) After all, he works out of the BuzzFeed offices, and much of that baloney (baloney I like!) must interest him, no? But he refrains from letting all of his interests spill out onto the site. (As you can tell, I admire this quality because I completely lack it! I let my id, ego, or super ego all have a shot! And it's why my dumb site is so stupidly miscellaneous. Jason's site is about lots of things but is still about something.) What am I saying? Apprehensively, I ask whether The Awl needs more definition than "everything we like." I disagree with whoever said above that there's too much -- for me, and I suspect for the business, it's really just more about focus. (I'm prepared for the counter-argument: are Daily Beast, Metafilter, Suck, or New York Mag "about" something? I think the answer is yes, despite being more topically diverse, they somehow still feel more... defined.)

2) A friend of mine just returned from Foo Camp. I asked if anyone brought up the launch of The Awl out in Cali. Of course not. Okay so not fair! Appealing to crunchy nerds in tents should not be on the demographic target list! But that doesn't mean there isn't some sort of, ya know, imagined reader out there. And I'm not quite sure I see that person yet, but the glimpse of him/her is exclusively a New Yorker. I know, I know, so is a lot of stuff! Or is it? I have friends in Minneapolis who read Gawker (even "old Gawker") and friends in LA who read The New Yorker. But I -- cringe, ouch -- somehow don't see any of them reading The Awl, which right now feels even more New Yorky than Gothamist and The Observer. (Part of it, I hate to say, is that high school insidery stuff in the comments. Or maybe that's good? Did camaraderie help Gawker commenting? Is it like when Pavement made inside jokes to their fans? I don't know. Maybe?)

Oh, and finally, all of this is COMPLETELY UNFAIR CRITICISM. Seriously, the site's been live for, what 48 hours?

And I get that you want it to feel somewhat miscellaneous -- a wide collection of stuff that "people who are smart" care about. But is the content net too diverse? I can see the criticism of this already -- just do what you like and really show it and people will admire it. I think Merlin said that in Austin a couple months ago. He's right, huh? Okay, maybe I'm wrong.

And seriously, why did I just jerk off Jason like that? Next time I'll think of something mean to say.

Probably jealous,

posted by Rex at 11:32 AM on April 23, 2009

Rex, I like how you get all exclamation-pointy when you address Choire!

posted by katiebakes at 12:27 PM on April 23, 2009

Know thy father like thy son.

(I have no idea what that means!)

posted by Rex at 12:30 PM on April 23, 2009

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