Nick Denton Is A Genius
February 11, 2011 in Gawker
That’s the only conclusion I can come up with at the moment. Nick Denton is a genius. I’ll forever stand by that statement. I base my statement – that Nick Denton is a genius – on the wealth of responses to the most recent re-design of Gawker and all other GawkerMedia sites. Nick Denton is a genius, and if you don’t understand why, then you’ve simply yet to catch up and realize the genius of Nick Denton.
I’ll say it again. Nick Denton? Genius.
Have you heard about this? It’s been going on for a week, even though it was predicted by the genius that is Nick Denton last November. Well, if you haven’t heard about this, let me fill you in. Apparently, a lot of people don’t like the re-design of Gawker. And a lot of people who read Gawker are making their feelings known about New Gawker. They are angry about it.
Unfortunately for these people who don’t like New Gawker, I have to point out the fact that Nick Denton – the publisher – doesn’t care what you think.
Because Nick Denton is a genius. And you aren’t.
I mean – complain all you want about New Gawker. Comment about it on Gawker all you want, especially about how much you hate New Gawker. Visit Gawker to read all the hatred about New Gawker, leave a comment about how much you hate New Gawker, then come back and see if someone replied to your comment about how much you hate New Gawker, how they agreed with you about how much they hate New Gawker too and what they added to your comment about hating New Gawker. They’ll tell you how much they hate New Gawker too. Then you can reply to their comment about New Gawker, because they’re surely sitting refreshing the page and waiting for the AJAX script to produce your reply about how much you hate New Gawker too.
Just like you are.
Keep complaining on Gawker about New Gawker.
Moan about New Gawker on Twitter too. Start a thread on Facebook to complain about New Gawker. Talk about New Gawker, get people to visit Gawker so they too can see how terrible New Gawker is. Perhaps they’ll leave a comment on Gawker about how you were right about New Gawker being terrible.
Start a campaign on Facebook to get Gawker changed back to “Classic Gawker”. Make your voice heard with the click of a mouse. Keep checking Gawker to see if Nick has decided to change things back.
If he hasn’t, keep your hatred alive.
Keep commenting on Gawker about how much you hate New Gawker. About how much Gawker means to you, and because it means so much to you, you feel compelled to write about how much you hate the re-design of Gawker, on Gawker.
Have You Heard About Gawker?
Let me begin by reminding you of the raison d’etre behind Gawker. It’s the same as it’s ever been, even with a re-design.
It’s about making money.
It makes money by people visiting it. These are called “page-views”. The more page-views Gawker gets, the more money it can make from advertising.
Every time you comment on Gawker about how much you hate New Gawker, and every time someone visits to see your comment about your hatred of New Gawker, Gawker makes more money.
Your hatred of New Gawker is very profitable to Gawker.
If your site is advertising supported, page-views are king and queen. Page-views are the entire royal family, plus their pets. Page-views are how you pay the hosting bills, how you pay the writers, how you pay for exclusives and eventually how you pay your rent.
Nick Denton always wants more page-views.
This is not an exclusive.
Forget the actual content of Gawker for a moment (I’ll come to that later) what I want to tackle is the admittedly strange layout none of you seem to understand. Sadly, if you’re reading this there’s a high chance that you’re not Nick Denton, so I’ll explain it quickly and simply so it gets through your thick head, because you’re obviously not a genius like Nick patently is.
If you’re confused over the new layout of Gawker, and are spending a lot of time on Gawker looking for the stuff that was more “findable” last week, well it’s pretty obvious - the new layout means more money.
We’re witnessing a new paradigm in blogging. Actually making it more difficult to find content.
It’s a stroke of genius. Well, unless you still read Gawker. If you were a genius you wouldn’t be reading Gawker.
You’d be running Gawker.
Yet again – like the last re-design seizure-a-thon – New Gawker has its detractors. Detractors meaning “everyone else apart from Nick Denton”. Nick loves it. Nick knows what he’s doing, because Nick is successful and makes enough money on the web to actually pay his writers, which is still a rarity (this site being a case in point – we pay in love and sexual favors). I’m sure Nick has went through months of usability testing, load-testing and balancing, matching his content delivery network to daily, if not hourly, requirements. I mean – if we remember recent Classic Gawker history, we know Nick places the utmost importance in how Gawker functions from a technical standpoint, such as basic password security. The latest re-design is no different.
Nick knows what he’s doing.
Although Nick Denton is a genius and I am not, my under-developed intellectual capabilities have spurred me to make some criticisms, I mean – Wordsmoker isn’t perfect, but I’ve spent a lot of time and no little amount of kind people’s cash in getting it close to where I want it, visually speaking, even though I’m not a genius like Nick is. I’d say Wordsmoker is more than readable in its minimalist way, and I’d like to think I know something about how content is presented to readers, which I now see is a major failing of my own doing.
I can only apologize to everyone who visits, or will visit, Wordsmoker.
Anyway. Some criticisms, just like I promised. Even though Nick is an obvious genius, allow me to nitpick some minor points about New Gawker. It’s probably best that I list them here, as opposed to writing about them on Gawker. I mean – every time someone complains on Gawker about New Gawker is just makes more money for Nick, doesn’t it? And if you don’t like New Gawker so much – well – that’s maybe the last thing you should do.
So – where do I begin with the design of New Gawker?
Was Nick Denton Framed?
First of all – New Gawker seems to be using frames. I don’t know this for a fact, but I can only base this on what New Gawker looks like, how it behaves, and what it looks like and how it behaves makes me believe it’s using frames. Why do I keep mentioning “frames”? Because “frames” are about the last thing you want to use on a website. Well, at least since 1998, that is. Frames are just the worst thing ever. Frames split a normal webpage into two (or three, or whatever) with one portion controlling navigation, the other handling copy. Frames suck because if they’re implemented badly, they can really screw up your viewing. They can slow down your browser, ratchet up the CPU cycles, produce stuttering text and images as you scroll up or down, and generally just piss you off with how unprofessional everything appears. On the few times I’ve visited New Gawker this week, I’ve noticed this – either during scrolling a main article or trying to scroll the navigation panel on the left. I’m running a 3.2Ghz Dual Core PC with 4Gb of ram and a 1Gb video card here – it can handle Crysis at high settings.
It can barely handle New Gawker.
Both cores of my CPU jump to 90% when scrolling using either Firefox or Chrome. Do I hear you say “big deal”? Maybe. But any – any – site that uses up this amount of CPU cycles is the product of really bad coding and testing. And Jeebus help you if you’re reading New Gawker on a laptop or netbook. Just watch your remaining battery power enjoy that, not to mention the life-cycle of your CPU, or the cooling required for the extra effort in what is still just “reading a blog”.
Yeah – that’s right. Nick Denton is exacerbating global warming too.
I’d also hate to think what the response is like on whatever underpowered Apple fondle-slab it seems to have been formatted for.
To be honest, I think the bottom “frame” is the major culprit. The “Next Post” thing?
Those rarely work well. In any browser. It’s now down to the developers at Mozilla, Google, Microsoft and Apple to catch up with Nick’s demands.
Nick is changing the internet.
Who’s Writing What Now?
I mean – this is really comical. And by comical, I mean “insane”.
I can’t tell who’s writing now.
For some reason (probably in terms of screen real-estate, because of the huge body column) it’s impossible to tell who has written what by looking at the navigation panel on the right. God help you if you had a favorite writer or writers. Personally I love Jim Newell and Richard Lawson’s work, but from now on it’s subtle guesswork as to who has written anything until you click on the title. A title that really doesn’t give much away because, well – it’s a title. So – expect more lurid titles to be the order of the day on New Gawker, something to actually get you to click on an article.
This goes back to my previous point – I really think Nick wants you to just wander about New Gawker, clicking on random articles in the hope that one of them are what you thought you were looking for in the first place. Again – genius!
Honestly – if I was a Gawker writer, I’d be really pissed at this. You’re now a little part of a homogeneous mass of titles. Well – there goes that individual voice you spent developing for so long. Enjoy!
Area Man Opens Eyes, Is Amazed At Photographs
I was a print journalist and then a blogger. I dealt in words, few of them read, even fewer moving. And it’s taken me this long to realize that we live in a visual culture. The words are so much more potent when they’re harnessed to graphics, images and video. That’s why we made the new Gawker.
That’s Nick’s reasoning (today) for the huge body column. So it can feature big photographs, I think. Is Nick saying that no-one read anything he wrote because it was shit? I don’t understand this phrase, but again – Nick Denton is a genius – and it’s obvious to me that I don’t understand this because I’m not one. Problems with this, there are many, list them I shall.
- No-one visits Gawker for the photography. No-one will. It’s a gossip site.
- I’ve yet to hear anyone Like or re-Tweet “Wow, did you see that photo on Gawker?”. I don’t think I ever will.
- Unless one of Travolta’s kids dies again, where they can feature a big picture of the child’s chin as evidence of fuck-all.
- Or maybe an Apple exec happens to be gay. Then they can out him in much better detail.
- Or maybe some flavor-of-the-moment wingnut didn’t have sex ten years ago. We can see her huge, hairy vagina.
- Or Denton’s checkbook journalism can buy a picture of some celeb vomiting on another – we can look at that while Nick pretends he’s above TMZ.
- If I want to see exciting photography, I go to xHamster.com and click on “Photos” like everyone else.
Another issue with the larger body copy “frame” – it screws with your actual reading of the copy. Do you know this? Maybe you do. I do. It’s the reason the center panel on Wordsmoker is the size that it is. Anything larger than that, coupled with a post running over 300 words, and your eyes begin to tire immediately. They expend more effort in scanning from left to right while you’re reading. It’s the reason that newspaper columns are the size that they are. It’s the reason that the tawdry yet sexually exciting novel you’ve got beside your bed is the size it is. I mean – Nick’s an ex dead-tree man – surely he knows this?
Of course he does. Nick Denton is a genius.
He’s actually making our eyes evolve after millenia of reading things “easily”.
Nick Hates Commenters, Comments, And Those Who Write Them, Read Them
It’s no surprise to find out that Nick really doesn’t like commenters. He barely puts up with them. Commenters – to Nick (a genius) – are a necessary evil. He’d probably ban every single one of them if he could, just for an easy life. Let’s face it – the previous Gawker re-design before this, he did all he could to hide practically every comment across GawkerMedia. Unless you were “starred”, you barely featured. I guess this was okay, but it turned out that after you stuck around for long enough you’d eventually get your little urine-colored star, so your inane bullshit would show up anyway. If that wasn’t enough, in a sort of Typographical Thunderdome arena death-match, you could “promote” someone else’s comment up a list or something.
To be honest, I’d left before this pseudo-socialist experiment got underway, and I still don’t understand it because I’m old and not a genius. There’s hundreds of comments on Nick’s video “response” to the latest bout of criticism. I can only see about 20, even when I click on “All”.
Nick doesn’t want you reading comments. He wants you to jump to the next post like a good little Pavlovian reader. He doesn’t want you scrolling down, or checking your responses on the same page, because that doesn’t count as another page-view, and if he doesn’t get another page-view then he doesn’t make money.
Your comments have literally no value.
Gawker Commenters Were Better In My Day, Now Get Off My Lawn
I was lucky to be a commenter during the period of Lolcait. As he blossomed from working on Gawker’s sales-desk to become a fully-fledged writer du jour with an obvious gift. It was a happy time. You’d visit Gawker for the comments alone. They actually made you laugh. People appeared to actually think and take time with their bon mots. There was a lot of pithiness. A lot of snark, and well-deserved snark at that. People enjoyed getting one-up on each other, and in the best possible sense. Memes were born and blossomed, too many to mention here.
Then Nick spread open Gawker’s legs and let Facebook Connect ride it senseless. And into even more profitability.
If you can actually find a comment worth reading these days, I salute you. Yes – you may think I’m being old and cranky and filled with nicotine and nostalgia, but I know I’m right. You may be reading this and be an actual current commenter and disagree wholeheartedly with what I say. To which I reply – Nick whored-out Gawker to Facebook because he wanted more page-views, and it’s obvious to anyone that the quality of comments became diluted. He wanted it to be as easy as possible for as many people as possible to comment, because if you comment you’re more likely to return to see if anyone replied to your comment, no matter how poor or banal your comment originally was.
You may think that your comment (and your friend’s comments) are exempt from this.
Of course you do.
Darling – the level of commenting on Gawker these days is pretty much YouTube-standards compared to two or three years ago. At least on YouTube I can find the comments and they appear in something resembling order. If you want good GawkerMedia comments, you have to look either at Jezebel or Deadspin. And then you have to spend time sorting the wheat from the faff. The supposed “flagship” of GawkerMedia – Gawker itself – has one captain and far too many people screaming about nothing below the waterline.
In a way, it’s probably best that you can’t see them all.
So Many, Many, Posts – So Few Worth Reading
Remember the time when there were maybe about 15 posts daily max? Those days? When it was actually worthwhile reading nearly every one? You had Choire and Sheila and Balk and you were there, and you were there too, and you were there Tin Man and Toto was too, and it was magical.
People actually seemed to be writing about what they wanted to write about, and it showed in terms of quality.
I can’t even tell how many posts there are on Gawker daily now. What is it? At least 20?
It works, though. Because Nick Denton is a genius.
More posts daily means more times you have to go back or refresh the site. Who knows what might be published! I mean – forget the actual quality of the post, or the salaciousness of the content, or the fact that it’s a 200 word aggregation piece about something noticed by someone on Buzzfeed or Urlesque which was originally written by someone else then re-Tweeted or noted on Tumblr and then picked up by Google Reader
The title on the right-hand side is all that matters. That buys your page-view. That buys Nick a pad next to Samuel L. Jackson.
The Stolen Phone Excuse
I had to laugh about Nick’s other reasoning for the change in design. Remember that time that guy received stolen goods – it was a phone or something – and the guy started filming himself with the phone, and everybody started visiting the Gawker off-shoot to see the stolen phone, and the guy was holding up the stolen phone and showing it off and everybody looked at the guy and the phone, even though the phone wasn’t switched on or anything and then this became one of the many reasons why humanity is doomed, because hundreds of thousands of people visited a web site to look at a phone and they all talked about the phone on the web site because it was a new phone?
One of Nick’s reasons for the latest design-fuck is that he was annoyed that more posts were posted on that day, you know – the day everybody visited that site to look at the new stolen phone with the guy holding it up and all that – and that these lowlier posts pushed the post about the new phone down the page and off it after a day or so of people visiting the site to see the new phone?
That’s complete bullshit.
I could make this post about how Nick Denton is a genius stay at the top of Wordsmoker for eternity if I like. It’s really easy. Anyone who runs a site like either Wordsmoker or Gawker only had to tick “Stick this post to the front page” and it will stay there no matter how many posts are written about new phones or hairy vaginas or dead Travoltas.
This fact is about the only thing that doubts my theory that Nick Denton is a genius. The only way I can comprehend my own doubt is that Nick was given erroneous information by one of his many, many highly-skilled website technicians.
Come to think of it, they were maybe distracted by having to re-hash all those passwords a while back. So, I’ll forgive this lapse in honesty.
What The HuffPo Buyout Tells Us About Gawker
Maybe Nick Denton (who by now, you have to admit, is a genius) is looking to do an Arianna? Get a larger corporation with a silly amount of money coupled with real panic in their corporate soul that they’re being left behind like atheist dogs during The Rapture to buy him out while he retains editorial control of the content?
Are News Corporation circling GawkerMedia?
I really wouldn’t bet against it.
Murdoch had a good year, profits are up, and he does tend to put money where people who actually read the web tend to tell him, even though it’s failed so far. A lot of web properties are valued through the roof at the moment. For the life of me I can’t see why Facebook and Twitter are valued as much as they are right now, and it smells like another AOL-bubble. My thoughts on this are truly beside any point I’m making, but the comparisons are there to be made:
- Both sites have an overwhelming array of stories carefully punctuated by celebrity nonsense so you can feel better about yourself as you pretend you’re reading something better than TMZ or Perez Hilton.
- Both sites are really painful to look at, with HuffPo’s mish-mash of color and text-plops and frenzied share-buttons possibly being an actual offense under the Geneva Convention.
- Both sites were born and are currently edited by non-American “outsiders” with dead-tree experience.
- Both editors are really convincing when pitching stuff to potential investors. It’s the funny accents.
- Neither of them are me.
At time of writing, the only way Nick will change his mind over New Gawker is if potential investors (or buyer-outers) really take into consideration the depth and anger at the re-design from commenters and readers. Nick can easily dismiss the vitriol himself – it’s a lot more difficult when the people asking the questions wear bespoke suits and have money in their back pockets.
Ergo – if the design changes back considerably, there’s something afoot. Nick will win anyway – don’t worry about that. He’s a businessman way before he’s an editor now, and all good business people are pragmatic to a sociopathic degree when it comes to money – successful capitalism depends upon it. Nick is no different.
Apart from the fact that Nick is a genius and a lot of other people aren’t.
In Summary – Nick Denton Is A Genius
Nick Denton – a genius – has somehow worked out that the time you spend searching for actual content to read on New Gawker equals more page-views. The more time you spending guessing who wrote what by scanning the sidebar, the more time you’ll spend there, which equals more page-views. Even if you’re scratching your head and cursing at your desk, it will mean more page-views. The more you complain, the more page-views. The more hatred, page-views. Anger? Page-views. And you?
You’re a page-view.
Let’s End 4000 Words About Gawker, Shall We?
It should be mentioned – rather brutally at that – if you’re spending all your time moaning about New Gawker on forums or on Twitter or even on Facebook – please, check yourself. No-one cares apart from you and your co-haters. The only place that cares about your hatred of New Gawker is Gawker itself, and not for the reasons you think of.
Remember that? The page-views thing?
Otherwise you’re venting into the ether and the only reply is the sound of your own shared opinion. Nick Denton doesn’t care. Nick will never care.
You hating the re-design so much is actually making Nick happy.
If you’re so upset, so vivid over the re-design of a website, then go start your own. Make it look the way you want it. Myself and around 20 other ex-commenters started their own place – this place back in December 2008. It wasn’t over some lame re-design – it was over the editorial direction and staffing. It’s much better to put the energy and time you spend in moaning about something that’s not really important into something that at least is creatively rewarding. It doesn’t have to be financially rewarding if you’ve got enough friends. Writing is fun! Getting people to write something – people who’ve never written anything before – is possibly the best reward there is.
I don’t give a shit what you think about this place. I like it. And I like the people on it.
Give me this place over any flavor of Gawker, any day.
Listen – current crop of Gawker-haters – no-one sticks around Gawker for long. They hive off and do it themselves, because doing it yourself is more fun, let’s face it. Besides Wordsmoker, you’ve got The Awl and now Crasstalk. If you look at Crasstalk in particular, it’s got the same genetic code as here – disaffected people who begin moaning about Gawker off-line, then get tired of moaning about Gawker off-line, and come to the decision that the way ahead is down to themselves, and themselves only.
And good luck to them. Good luck to anyone doing that.
Honestly. Forget about Gawker.
I won’t say it forgot about you long ago, because you never mattered really.
For the final time. Nick Denton is a genius.
Mostly because your stupidity is making him look like one.
© Wordsmoker – Intermittently Laughing At Gawker Since 2008