Feb 03, 2011

maybe i'm just old, and that's why i'm suffering cognitive dissonance after one day of the daily

It's patently unfair to judge it after just one issue, but the conceptual hangup I have with The Daily is the overall package. I don't have issues with the details -- those will get fixed over time. (The carousel, the nav issue, speed, etc.) I just can't figure out the thing as a whole. I tweeted late last night: "The first issue of #thedaily feels like a daily issue of Time...on the iPad! A glossy look back at what happened just yesterday."

Longer version: The Daily looks and feels and navigates and wants to be a magazine. The kind of thing that we used to read once a week on the couch or in the dentist's office or on a plane to get a big picture view of the world. There is a magazine packaging "style" that screams EDITORS. As in "we chose these photos and these 500 words and this layout and this overall slate of content for a reason, because we think this is what you need to know about what happened last week while you were working and shuttling the kids to and from soccer practice.

So, two areas of cognitive dissonance for me.

First, I've grown up with these newsmagazines being on a weekly publication schedule...not a daily one. The Daily is a very (very) highly produced slug of digital media. Contrast that with the expectation I have about daily content tending more towards the quick and dirty, less edited, less "produced." Like what we get in newspapers or on most blogs. So seeing The Daily's level of production on daily content -- and thinking ahead to how I'm going to consume that type of content every day -- creates a disconnect for me. Maybe it's an age thing. Maybe I'm now old enough where I'm finally the demographic that just needs to die off, 'cause the younger kids either "get" and want this type of content on a every day, or don't have enough history with newsweeklies to create that periodic dissonance. (Either way, get the hell off my lawn.)

Second, while I choose to believe that the web is a very large tent and can be more than a customer service medium (with all due respect, Paul, you should have consulted me on that piece), there are two things that the web excels at that are missing in v1 of The Daily: community and "nowness." Much has been made of the fact that The Daily didn't do much to cover the ongoing story coming out of Cairo on day one; they missed a pretty big opportunity to demonstrate that at its most basic level. And on the community front, the lack of tools to really engage with their (mostly excellent!) writers and other smart and attractive readers is a shame. (So, instead, I took my reaction to Heather Havrilesky's piece outside the app, where she could talk back.)

So while I think a lot of the writing is top notch, the production values are high and have faith that the bugs will get worked out, I'm having issues with the overall product. The daily publishing schedule doesn't feel matched to the way the content's being packaged and presented. And the whiz bang production quality (lots of touching and swiping and motion and video) screams I AM DIGITAL, but the product doesn't deliver on two fundamental features of today's web -- community and real-time.

I want The Daily to work. And, less importantly, I want The Daily to work for me. As I said up front, it's patently unfair to judge a daily product after just one day of use. But I want to note all of these things now, mostly as a milestone to note later how the product grows...and how it grows on me.

Sign me up.