Investor Breakfast

Investor Breakfast

This morning we held an Investor Breakfast, which is like an Investor Demo but earlier.

We updated them on all the latest progress and showed them some trial things we’ve made – both electronic and physical. Stuff so new it isn’t even on Flickr yet. We’re on track with everything and everyone seems happy.

There have been some significant developments since we last spoke to them and to you. The major one being that we’ve found someone who can print very small quantities of newspapers. This is fantastic because it enables us to offer more services to more people. (Look, I’m still speaking Investor.)

However, it’s Friday now and it’s been a long week, so we’ll talk more about that another time.

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The Fibre of the Gomuti Palm

(Quick intro from Russell – One of the things we’ve been trying to do with Newspaper Club is make sure we honour some of the traditions and textures of newspapers. Not the floundering around in unsuccessful business models, obviously, but the little bits around the edges; weather maps, jargon, graphics, the stuff that makes something feel like a newspaper. Alfred has been helping us out research this and he’s turned up such interesting material that we asked him to share that on here. It doesn’t mean we’ll be putting crosswords in our finished product, though I guess we might, but it’s still interesting. So, ladies and gentlemen – Here’s Alfred!)

Researching newspaper culture and history you quickly understand how many things that has changed and how many times the industry has faced drastic changed. Classic newspapers has gone through as many redesigns as editors-in-chief but a few things has been surprisingly persistent throughout history.

One of the things that basically hasn’t changed since its first appearance is the crossword, invented by journalist Arthur Wynne in 1913 and published in New York World. The idea was inspired by a children’s game called magic squares and the design of it came naturally given the limited graphical possibilities with that day’s printing. But the design has pretty much remained the same with the cryptic crosswords looking identical almost a 100 years later and seen as iconic examples of graphic design. New York Times was the only classical newspaper too conservative for the idea and it would take until 1942 until they published their first one, today they are seen as the best in the world. The first Times crossword appeared in 1930 and the UK with it soon develop their own distinct grid when making crosswords.

British Grid

Praxis holds that when crafting crosswords they should have a 180-degree rotational symmetry so that it looks the same upside down and white cells must be orthogonally contiguous, which means that they are all connected forming a white mass. The Japanese makes even more complex crosswords, black cells can’t share sides and that all corner cells must be white. The Swedish ones are quite unique in that the clues are all written in cells within the crossword.

Interesting crossword related bits and bobs on the internet:

Emily Jocureton does illustrations based on the New York Times crossword.

How to Master The Times Crossword

The Times Crossword Challenge for Nintendo DS

Crosswords About The Old Testament

Sources:

http://www.fun-with-words.com/first_crossword.html

http://www.crosswordtournament.com/more/wynne.html

The Crossword Obsession

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One component of Newspaper Club is a service where we’ll create a bespoke newspaper. Offline. Especially for you.

We’ve just delivered such a project for the BBC.

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It’s a collection of essays which came out of 8 studies commissioned as part of the AHRC/BBC Knowledge Exchange Programme. The paper contains articles by Bill Thompson, Katherine Corrick and Pat Kane among others. Brendan from the BBC talks more about the project here.

I’m particularly fond of the cover. Looked great on the press.

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We’re also working on an exciting one for Penguin, which we’ll be able to talk about soon.

This part of Newspaper Club is aimed at corporations, companies, firms, who require more control than the online version gives you. Like a traditional graphic design service. We’re still looking to explore different things you can do with newspapers and to make the best use of the format.

If you’d like to find out more about bespoke newspapers give Ben a call on 07966 282 286 or drop him a line at ben@riglondon.com

Plate

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Day 22 – Expectation Management

Jam

One of the interesting things about the recent splurge of Newspaper Club publicity and commentary is that we find out what everyone thinks we’re doing. There’s a ton of fantastic ideas out there about newspapers, curation, community, printing, all that. The only problem is, they’re all better than what we’re doing. We’re not trying to disrupt the newspaper business, we’re just trying for something interesting to the side of the newspaper business. So if you’re excited about what we’re up to, calm down, it probably won’t be that good.

Jam

Having said that here’s the news from today’s status meeting:

The Art Department Win At Status

Because they’ve found someone who can do extremely limited runs of a newspaper (around 20 or less) for an affordable price. Only black and white, but still, we can make a product out of that. We’re going to pushing a demo product through that in the next couple of days, it’ll look ugly but it’ll work.

Engineering Come Second

Because Tom has had his coding face on all week, just grinding forward, making things work.

Sales & Marketing Come Last

Because I haven’t really done anything useful.

Jam Jars

In other news, Tom made jam.

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Day 20 – One Third Of The Way

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It’s Friday afternoon. Ben and I are in our respective homes watching the tennis and Tom’s at London Fields Lido enjoying cakes (according to twitter anyway). We have family-friendly working policies here at Newspaper Club.

It feels like it’s been a long old week but I’m not sure if we can point at much specific achievement (he said in an hilariously frank manner).

Here’s what’s happened:

Ben and I have mostly been in meetings, which never feels like work, but is necessary and carves out opportunities for more achievement later on.

Day 17 - Art Dept. Win At Status

The paper we made for the BBC hit the streets. Full marks to the Art Department on that one. It looks lovely. And it’s a good read too. And it represents actual revenue. Hurrah! Consequently the Art Dept Won At Status.

Tom continues to nudge the Engineering forward and we started actual user testing yesterday. Admittedly the user was me, but since I never listen to anything Ben or Tom say I’m just like a regular person coming to the site with no pre-conceptions. So far it all works perfectly, until it breaks, at which point Tom fixes it and we start again. That’s how it’s supposed to work, right?

And we had a little flurry of publicity which has been exciting. News was beginning to leak out, unsurprisingly since we’ve been blogging, twittering, mentioned at conferences, linked to by nice people and generally Not-In-Any-Way-Secret. So Dan at 4ip decided to tell people about their investment and we got a very nice write-up on TechCrunch Europe.

Now, pleasingly, we’re getting a few press enquiries and people wanting to know more. Which is great. Except we haven’t really got more to say. We’re working on everything – engineering, business models, community, design, vacation policy – and we have lots of ideas, but until we’ve actually made something we don’t want to be raising (or lowering) any expectations. We just want to get on with it. So we’ll be reporting progress on here, but we won’t be doing more than that.

Hope that’s OK. Now, if you’re still at work, get outside in the sunshine. (If there’s sunshine, and you want to go out in it.)

PS – And 4ip paid us some actual money. In the back account and everything. Splendid.

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