New Site [Beta] Launch: MNspeak.com
It's about time we had some babies around here.
Today, Chuck Olsen and I are announcing a new site (still in beta!) that we are putting the finishing touches on. We present to you:
Twin Cities, All Day, All Night
What the heck is it?
It's a few things, yet it's also something very simple: a one-site stop for Twin Cities conversations about culture, media, politics, and entertainment. MNspeak.com's primary function is to answer these two questions:
1) What are people in the Twin Cities talking about today?
2) What is going on around town tonight?
So yes, it's a blog -- or partially a blog. But it's so much more! The left column works like a traditional blog (but with a community of participants). In addition, there is an events calendar, a community feedback device, a local blog/media aggregator, and sponsorship opportunities. And if all goes well, there will be more soon.
I've been working in digital media for almost a decade, and I've seen a website or two in that time. A "community site" could mean innumerable things to innumerable people (photo-blogging, topic-driven bulletin boards, etc.). But we think MNspeak.com has crystallized the possibilities down to a few essential features done well.
Perhaps the best way to describe the site would be to compare certain parts to sites that have influenced me. Here are some of MNspeak.com's main features, with mentions of sites that influenced the idea:
Writing -- No one realizes quite yet what a huge effect Gawker is having on the way we talk to each other. I'm respectfully describing the tone of MNspeak.com as Gawker Minus The Mean-ness. If that doesn't grab you, try Putting The Irony Back In Minnesota Nice. In other words, expect information plus attitude, but we'll try not to hurt your feelings, unless you're Norm Coleman or CJ.
Email Newsletters -- There is no Flavorpill in the Twin Cities yet -- and now there never will be! We are offering two simple email options -- an every-day calendar email and a week-day blog email. Click here to sign up.
Calendar -- If you've known me more than five minutes, you've probably heard my rant about the media sector that's really missing the boat on the digital publishing revolution: the alt-weeklies. I honestly believe CityPages.com is doing interesting work with Babelogue, and VillageVoice.com seems to be giving it the college try -- but the rest are trapped in the dogmatic slumbers of a weekly publishing schedule. The goal of MNspeak.com's calendar is not to compete with the gigantic comprehensiveness of an alt-weekly -- rather, it's to offer a clear resource for answering this simple question: "What's going on tonight?"
Participation -- We are so lucky to have one the leading "open-source journalism" thinkers in America in our city (don't let the scatological humor fool you!). Chuck's Blogumentary has been getting accolades wherever the film screens, and it's a pleasure to finally be working on a project together. We'll be adding in more voices to the site, so stay tuned for some surprises.
Aggregator -- The problem with blogs is there's just too much. Aggregators like Kinja are doing a nice job of condensing the blogosphere into digestible units. Our aggregator still needs some work yet, but it has the potential to be -- and I don't mean this hyperbolically -- the leading community news source in the Twin Cities.
Design -- Often cited by big media as the little site they wish to be, Lawrence.com is the "disguised" entertainment site of a daily Kansas paper, The Lawrence Journal-World. The design has gotten a little messy lately, but the general structure is something that pleases me. (There are rumors that many daily papers -- including local ones -- are considering similar sites. How much you wanna bet on them "getting it"?)
Interviews -- When I met Gothamist publisher Jake Dobkin at SXSW, I talked him out of launching a branch of his growing empire in Minneapolis. Actually, he mentioned some mumbo jumbo about "market size," and I knew he'd never bother with our mini-metro. Seriously though, one of our favorite Gothamist features is the interviews, which we plan to blatantly steal.
Business Model -- Oh, bring that up, will you? Yes, we're selling ads right now. If you'd like to advertise with us, click here. You'll be shocked how inexpensive they are. I can't reveal much more, but we're also talking about creating revenue opportunities for other Twin Cities bloggers. If you think about it, you can imagine how that might work. More on that later...