We don’t just do Newspaper Club you know…we have lives

RIG - never not working

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Analogue Friction

What happens when you click ORDER?

We promised you more blogging, so here’s the second post in two days. Oh you lucky, lucky people. Above is a note Ben took at Monday’s meeting. This is proof that we’ve moved onto the hard stuff. The webterface is mostly done now. It looks lovely, it works well, we’ll show you pictures soon. We’re even able to take money off people; now Tom’s finished swearing at Paypal. All the digital stuff is under control.

But we always knew the hard bits would be analogue – people and stuff.

On the people side we’ve got lots of copyright and ownership things to think about and work our way through. Lots of people are asking us if they can do instapaper-to-print things, stuff no-one would object to if it was just one copy, just for you. But because we can scale it up to lots of newspapers really quickly, that’s a different matter. So we’re going to be thinking about that.

And, more immediately, we’re worrying about what happens when you click order. Do we contract with a fulfillment house? Do we do some of it ourselves? Can the printers help? How do we help people who’ve never printed a newspaper before understand the logistical implications of 5,000 newspapers turning up at their house?

The web doesn’t help much with this stuff. It’s good old analogue friction and we just have to work our way through it with phone-calls, meetings and spreadsheets.

We’ll let you know how we’re getting on.

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more status

status

Another good meeting today. Lots of interesting things happening. Smart decisions and tough choices were made. Chief outcome for me seems to be that I need to write more blog posts. So here it is. How’s this Ben? Happy now?

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status update

newspaperclub status

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…and we’re back

THINGS I WANT TO READ OVER THE SUMMER

Summer’s over. Work to be done. News will follow. Onwards.

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Day 41 – Closed for August

closed

When we signed up for this merry ride we agreed that we’d have something built in 60 working days from commencement. However, we also stipulated that there are no working days in August. We’re off on our holidays.

I’ve always thought that the joy of being a small island floating between Europe and the US means you can select the best from two great business cultures, and while we’re happy to embrace the early-rising and grande-lattes of our North American friends we should also honour our European heritage and bugger off for the summer.

There used to be an idea that you could evaluate the commitment and energy of a company by checking out how full the car park was on a Sunday. We’d fail that test. We’re more about this, than this. But nevertheless we’re managing to get somewhere.

There therefore won’t be a lot of activity here, just a couple of catch-up posts from Ben about some prototypes we (and other people) have made.

When we’re back in September we’ll start getting beta invites to people and have more news of progress, speaking engagements and promotional mousepads.

Have a good summer. Bye.

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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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8

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.

8

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.

8

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

8

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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