Our Deal with Salon
Wednesday, July 24, 2002 by Dave Winer.
1999 was a seminal year for weblogs. It was the year of Manila, Pitas and Blogger. It was the year we discovered that the Web browser is the best and worst place to edit Web content.
In May 1999, Scott Rosenberg at Salon wrote the first weblog piece outside the weblog community, and it rippled through the then-small world of weblogs. I pointed to it from Scripting News, in DaveNet, and later from Weblogs.Com.
I said on Scripting News that day "Scott's article will probably be pointed to by lots of weblogs!" It was, and so were all the articles that followed. Writing about weblogs is and probably always will be a good way to get flow.
But I wished for more. I wanted Salon to open up to amateur authors. This made sense to me, because more than any other publication, Salon was "of" the Web, not of print. The value of a publication like Salon is its reputation, which can direct attention to people with something to say, even people who write for love, not money. Salon's editors could play different roles, scouts, curators, editors, and promoters of talent. New businesses could be spawned from the new weblogs, and therein, imho, lies the elusive business model for the Web.
As a recent NY Times article pointed out, Wall Street may have fallen out of love with the Web, but Main Street hasn't. Perhaps Silicon Valley can't compete with Wal-Mart and USA Today; but Joe's Motor Shop can be enhanced by having a nice weblog to communicate with their customers and other people in their community. Joe can be an expert in his domain, a weblog helps him share what he knows, and builds his reputation. That translates into more business and more profits. It's not hard to see how new businesses will start. I've written about this at length over quite a few years.
So, today we announced a new business relationship between Salon and UserLand. Salon is granting my wish -- they're opening their site to amateur authors. Scott Rosenberg, now Salon's managing editor, is writing a weblog, where he will follow the developments in their weblog community. As they often do, Salon is leading the way. They are the first publication to offer such a service to its community. We are proud to enable this innovation with our Radio UserLand software.
Both companies stand to grow economically from this. In the past such a service would have been free. Some free weblog services still exist, but more and more they are subsidized by customers who pay. Since we got a fresh start long after the end of the dotcom bubble, our weblog community doesn't have this kind of subsidy. People pay a reasonable price for what they use, and this makes it possible for us to operate the servers and add features and fix bugs.
So from my sabbatical desktop, I'd like to thank my colleagues at UserLand for their excellent work; and to thank the people at Salon for choosing our software for their new weblog service. We hope to continue to deserve your trust for many years to come.