By Seb Kemp
I’m terribly sorry that #NOTT is late this week. I apologize to the three or four people that regularly check out this murky little corner of the internet that duplicates and pirates what is already out there. This week I was out in the desert tackling a strain of Welsh Mad Dog Disease, heavy-handed margaritas, and photographic Groundhog Day.
I was tasting the delightful dirt of Sedona as part of the @santacruzbikes 29er launch-a-thon. Journalists from various media outlets were flew into the red and blue desert and given a couple of new bikes to ride, a bottomless glass of @calamitystrange’s special margarita mix, and a pillow onto which weary heads could fall upon after midnight.
Fortunately, I was there as an observer to the information arms race that is taking place in the sphere of internet-media operations–so I sat back and made notes on how the different chaps approached the task of delivering news to the public.
Frantic is one word that could describe the actions of the assembled journos–more than ever before, the emphasis is on who gets the news out first. As soon as the curtain was raised on the first bike I could have sworn a starters gun went off.
Tyler at Bike Rumor pipped everyone to the line with a post about the new bikes at ten minutes past nine in the morning, but biting right at his heels was Jon from Singletrack magazine.
It was curiously great spectating. Writers are characterized by their brain, not their brawn, so this was the closest thing mountain-bike journalism has to being like an Olympic 100m sprint. From the moment the grand bike rollout was over, twitchy fingered writers began furtively checking out what each other were doing. Keyboards were danced upon with deft skill and grace, posts were formatted and calls to IT departments were made. But there was little or no time for anyone to sit back and write Anna Karenina; instead it was a race to be first, or at least not last.
Bike Radar’s Guy Kesteven is a veteran of this game, but he had some translation problems when he tried to write a “sporty” piece that “melded” together the facts with creativity. Delays in communication put him in third place and his language was tested considerably as a cloud of blue was heard around the desert.
Bike magazine’s own Brice Minnigh came in next with a rip-roaring post and then followed it up with other posts, including his story of falling in love with his first full-suspension bike. Quantity and craft, and definitely worth a read. Brice is used to covering war zones in his illustrious journalism career, but even a warrior like him was wracked by fear.
The race for mountain-bike internet dominance is leading to a cold-war-esque standoff where fear rules and counter intelligence is utilized. I like to call this state of one-upmanship M.A.D (Mutually Aggravated Deadlines). Everyone is rushing to spit something out and feed the insatiable internet; an intangible and shadowy sort of beast that we imagine.
Watching these seasoned mountain-bike journos race around trying to punch something out and get it up reminded me of footage of the old press days, except instead of pressmen covering political upheavals, war and death, the story was two bicycles. A bike is designed to last years, but in trying to push something into the gaping mouth of the internet we are ensuring that the news of it lasts just five minutes.
I am not trying to disparage any of the assembled journos, or anyone else in that trade for that matter. The work they did last week is remarkable for the speed at which they can produce something that is as precise and finessed. These guys are stunning at what they do, but the fear of feeding this internet monster is adding wrinkles, frowns and grey hairs to too many good people.
I don’t know where the need for speed is coming from–is it the readers, the editors, the corporate heads, or the industry itself? Or is it some self-imposed deadline? Do we think that being first is the only place worthy? We are told the internet is forever and its contents won’t disappear down the back of the toilet like a magazine, so why do we have to race to put something out there immediately when it will live forever anyway?
Anyway, here is the lighter side of the Twitter-sphere this week.
And cross-pollination between different social media platforms is bad. This is something I experimented with recently and found that it is doesn’t work. If you connect your Twitter to FB then every tweet arrives on your profile as a peculiar little code and doesn’t convey the same message it does on twitter. Both platforms deserve their own voice it seems.
We will explore this further in a later installment of #NOTT. Thanks for reading y’all.