Platforms not pages - solving problems with The Atavist, n0tice and

 by Martin Belam, 23 May 2012

Three very different things I’ve spotted this week have illustrated a nagging thought in my mind that if you are purely focused on publishing web pages into the desktop environment, you’ve probably taken your eye off the ball.

The Atavist

The Atavist - which I’ve written about before - was featured in the New York Times earlier this week. The piece was driven by recent investment in the business, which delivers multimedia long-form journalism, and they are planning to open up their authoring tool to the wider world later this year.

The team at Atavist have retained an editorial focus, rather than a pure technology approach, and I think that shines through in the content that has been produced so far. You can be sure that when the tools are released I’ll be experimenting with publishing with it...


This week the Guardian, where I currently work, released an API for n0tice. The brain-child of Matt McAlister, the n0tice API is billed as “the open journalism toolkit”. The Guardian itself has already been using it, and Justin Ellis at Nieman Journalism Lab has written about the launch.

I was once asked what I would do if I was setting up a news business from scratch, and I said I would hire some journalists and then build an API. Once they were publishing stories into the API, I’d work out the best sustainable way of distribution. It looks like the n0tice toolkit means I might be able to skimp on the “building my own API” bit.

The beauty of having an API is that it really forces you to make long-lasting decisions about your content structure, and then drives down the cost of any further development. Nobody can quote you for some costly database and CMS integration when you can simply point them at a RESTful API for your content.

Today the European Journalism Centre released - an attempt to aggregate journalism job listings from across the globe. Sitting in London I can filter opportunities by type (e.g. freelance, internship, full-time) or by location. So far I’ve spotted listings from as far afield as New York, Istanbul, Kenya and Hong Kong.

They give their USP as a job board as follows:

  • Built for journalists
  • And only for journalists
  • Reach out to 20,000 professionals
  • Low fees, almost free
  • Proceeds go to charity

What brings them together?

So what, in my mind, brings these together?

Well, they are all platforms and services, not ways of publishing pages. None of them are perhaps completely revolutionary, but all of them are trying to solve a problem for users.

When the internet gives you the possibility to help people solve problems, publishing pages just isn’t going to be enough.

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