I'm not going to lie to you. If you want to know the truth, if you can handle the truth, the one thing that Intrepid Media (smart, funny, yours!) is above all else is old. Older than dirt. Not that there's anything wrong with that. In fact, wearing an eight-year badge in a sea of dot-com failure (snowball, spark, MSNBC.com) and web 2.0 noise (MySpace, YouTube, Twitter) is a sign of accomplishment. Win-win! And as we boldly go where no one has gone before, there's one thing above all else we have to watch out for. Cliché.
Don't get me wrong. The suits here at Intrepid Media, and by "suit" I mean bad haircut, jeans that look like they might be sticky, and a T-shirt emblazoned with a band whom everyone thinks is cool but no one has ever heard, like Les Savy Fav, have an intellectual investment in keeping Intrepid Media laser-targeted, robust, seamless, scalable, turnkey, and best of breed, in that order. We know we've lost first-mover advantage (to be fair, we weren't first, but we were firstish), so now we have to create the perfect storm.
Question: Why is this so late?
Intrepid Media turned EIGHT on 9.1.07. Go Intrepid. It's your birthday. However, to be perfectly honest with you, we weren't ready. See, 2007 was about tracking. The Interweb is a vast ocean of dreck with a lot of gears and ball bearings underneath. We spent most of 2007 capturing as much information as we could about the columns you write while painstakingly making sure we kept our heads above water in terms of your privacy. Thus, when you post something in the Gallery, the wheels start turning immediately. We tell you how often it's been read, where those reads are coming from, and what people think of what you said. The whole nine. This kind of information takes a while to accumulate. But when it's all said and done, it's infoporn. It's addictive. It's the new cigarettes. And if you stick around and build up a portfolio, this information will help you get better. You'll be a better writer, a more fluid thinker. You'll be funnier, sharper, and sexier.
So it took a little while to get critical mass on the metadata, but we're aces now.
We did this for a couple of reasons. Intrepid Media is all about the contributor. Everything we do, we do to build the empire of you (in fact, this is one of our own many catch phrases). We're also under the impression, much like in Ratatouille (spoiler alert!), that ANYONE CAN WRITE. This is our story and we're sticking to it. Now, out of the gate, not everyone can write good. So what we do is give you the tools and the roadmap: A relatively positive environment, quantitative and qualitative feedback, a process by which the best content always bubbles up to the top - it's like jumping into the pool of free expression and we supply the rubber-ducky shaped water wings.
We make Klostermans out of Tucker Maxes. And we have parties while we do it. The rest is up to you.
This is also, in fact, what keeps us from being a writers site. Some of our best stuff is written by folks who would never call themselves writers. They just happen to be brilliant. Cyberspace tears down the walls of formality in this regard. We figure you can pretty much hash out grammer, mechanics, and structure on your own along the way. Some of the best phone books in the world are written to perfection. We're here to make sure you write something people want to read. Although, to be fair, the Denver metro phone book is an effervescent and thought-provoking read. Two thumbs up.
The other reason we got our hands dirty with the data was to separate us from the blogosphere/blogiverse/blogicipality. Sweet Betty, I can't even stand the term "blog." But they're here, and apparently they're making beaucoup money and putting criminals behind bars and adding another delicious option to your well-balanced breakfast. It was only fair that we took it upon ourselves to differentiate (and strengthen) the core of our site - after all, if we're going to demand your uniquity, we had better give you an experience worthy of that quality.
So the concepts we put in place at the very beginning are still in use today. The only issue is, as I said up front, the fact that we're old. It's nearly impossible to keep things stupidfresh after eight years. We're a little niche, maybe a little exclusive, and we know who let the dogs out. That's good. We're also a little tired, a little repetitive, and no one really cares who Kaiser Soze is anymore. That's bad.
The Intrepid Media Experience will never be for everyone. This was never the goal, and good on us, because MySpace does the universal thing quite well and 98% of MySpace is unreadable or unabashedly commercial (ironically, much like a phone book, if phone books were put out by secret societies of cool eighth-graders). Intrepid Media will also not work every time out, as evidenced by this column, or entire initiatives along the way that have bombed, like Karma Factory, Google Ads, or Heather Millen's Invent-a-Cocktail Tuesdays.
But if we don't do this, if we don't make an attempt to try new things, put them out there on display for everyone to laud, attack, or very condescendingly tell us how much they enjoyed it...
"I LOVED the Big Country column. It was so BOLD!"
"Did you read it?"
"Of course I read it."
"Did you get the joke about Duran Duran?"
"There was no joke about Duran Duran."
"You're really straining our friendship, you know that?"
...then we're doomed to relive the clichés forever.
So while the trends come and go, the catch-phrases catch-on, and web pages becomes sites become portals become second lives, we'll be here, doing our thing, evolving, and generally trying to become what we were meant to be. And all we ask is the same thing from you.
Have a wonderful and eventful 2008 - and make sure you tell us about it along the way.
Joe Procopio trades in pop culture and tech culture, allowing him to poke fun at so many things. He's written for a number of online and offline publications from the late, lamented Smug to the fancy-pants Chicago Tribune and also for television. He's a novelist, a shredder, a joker, and a family man. Scoff at joeprocopio.com or follow on Twitter @jproco.
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
1.2.08 @ 8:14p
This isn't as funny as some off your other articles
1.2.08 @ 9:16p
...but it IS funnier than some of them.
1.3.08 @ 10:45a
I'm not going to lie to you. I've had 57 drinks.