Open Season

Header_logo_1 Yesterday I wrote "Good night, Pajamas Media; Good morning, Open Source Media," in welcoming the blog conglomerate that launched with a new name.

Maybe I should have written "Good night, Open Source Media." It seems the name is already spoken for. 

Boston public radio host Christopher Lydon has been calling his production company that since May. His show is called Open Source.

On the radio Open Source's site yesterday afternoon, staffer Brendon Greeley wrote:

Hm. A company that used to call itself Pajamas Media now calls itself Open Source Media, which is — scroll down to our legal notice — kind of exactly what we call ourselves. ...

Don’t get us wrong; we didn’t invent the idea of working with bloggers to make media, we certainly didn’t invent the concept "open source," and there’s plenty of room for everyone to do what we’ve been doing. But they chose the same name that we established in May and, seeing as how we work in the same industry, people might find that a little confusing. And that has us puzzled.

It takes a while for a new blog to find its voice. Longer than it takes critics to stick their fork in it and pronounce it done.

When the Huffington Post launched in May LA Weekly's Nikki Fine famously declared the celebrity group blog was "such a bomb that it's the movie equivalent of Gigli, Ishtar and Heaven's Gate all rolled into one."

It's been more like Star Wars ever since. Today, about 50,000 readers visit each day to read a list of friends and allies that includes Laurie David, Harry Shearer, Deepak Chopra, Lawrence O'Donnell, David Corn, Michael Smerconish. I've bookmarked the HuffPo in a category called Blinq essentials.

The launch of Open Source Media also has attracted its share of cybersharks.

"The Huffington Post for ugly people," wrote a commenter on Jeff Jarvis's Buzzmachine blog.

Jarvis, the creator of Entertainment Weekly, was less than jazzed:

Pajamas, as I understand it, wanted to be an ad network. I don’t see huge advertiser demand for a bunch of mostly conservative political bloggers. At one time, they wanted to be some sort of syndicate but I said nobody would buy content. It seems they now want to be some sort of blog central thing — antimatter to the Huffingtonpost’s matter, I suppose — but the difference is that most of her people don’t blog while most of these people already do blog so I don’t know why I need to see a collection of them.

Karl Martino, founder of Philly Future, objects to the name Open Source but on purist grounds. He was offended that the former Pajamas people had trademarked their new name. He was offended that they don't seem to share the spirit of open media, which allow users to modify programs or encyclopedia entries and contribute to their evolution. (Here's a Wikipedia entry on it.)

"It's VERY obvious that they have no idea what the words 'open source' mean and are co-opting it for their marketing purposes," Martino wrote yesterday in an instant message.

Similar sentiments from the 375th St. Y, which wrote:

Not only do they completely reject all the ideas of open source, they also seem to believe that things like fair use don't exist either. If you want a copyright that that respects the ideals of open source look no farther than mine ... Share and share alike, that is open source.

As for the Web site/group blog itself, it's not fair to rip something so soon, even if the players are veterans at the game. Open Source Media signed up bloggers from the left as well as the right (though clearly more bat from the right), and post articles from AP, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Knight Ridder/Tribune wire.

Its plans to enlist a global network of citizen correspondents is admirable. Its plan to pay bloggers based on the popularity of their posts is enviable. Yesterday's launch included an informed panel on blogging, and they took turns fielding some of the right questions, such as What's wrong with opinion journalism?

Its decision to have Judith Miller, late of The New York Times, as its featured speaker showed an instinct for attention-grabbing, and prompted one Blinq comment to propose renaming the site Open Sore.

We'll check in on it regularly. And give it a little time.

William Young
Posted 11/17/2005 08:33:10 AM

Well, as a founding member of Open Source Media, I can see how you'd be confused. Heck, I attended the opening day's session, launch party, and was [surprisingly] featured as one of the "Daily Must-Read Blogs" [or whatever it was called] and I came home on the train last night with a bellyful of martinis and no real understanding of what I was involved in. Now, I talked with Roger L. Simon and Glenn Reynolds [reporter instincts die hard, you know] about the company, the name change, the future, and I'll say this: the best I could figure was they're throwing a lot of brand name blogs at the wall and waiting to see what sticks. But: it seems like a good idea in that they are, so they say, intending to NOT be a rival to the HuffPo or TPMcafe or any other blog aggregator. So they say. We'll see. As for the *name* complaint. Sheesh. A RADIO program is whining that a blog URL is copying its *idea*?!?!? What's next, ABC news complaining CBS news is using a B and a C along with the word NEWS? Plus, Dan can sign up Blinq with OSM if he thinks OSM is some sort of righty Borg collective. One complaint I heard often at the launch was there weren't enough lefty types (I know, Dan considers himself a neutral, non-partisan) involved with OSM. Hence: David Corn [who is much more sane in person than on Web]. Check out my blog later this morning/today: I should have a detailed accaount by then [which I expect Dan to link to}.

Posted 11/17/2005 08:55:32 AM

Nice framing of that. The radio show isn't complaining about the stealing of it's *idea* whatsoever. It posted about it's *name*. And before anyone joins your network, they should realize that your license ( says this: 2. Our Site and all its contents, which includes, but is not limited to, text, graphics, photographs, logos, video and audio content, is protected by copyright as a collective work or compilation under the copyright laws of the United States and other countries. All individual components of Our Site, including, without limitation, articles, content and other elements comprising Our Site are also copyrighted works. Additionally all of the weblogs linked to by us are likewise protected. You must abide by all additional copyright notices or restrictions contained on this site and our linked weblogs. 3. You may not reproduce, distribute, copy, publish, enter into any database, display, modify, create derivative works, transmit, or in any way exploit any part of this site. The only exceptions to this are that you may download material from Our Site for your own personal use, provided such download is limited to making one machine readable copy and/or one print copy that limited to occasional articles of personal interest only. No other use of the content of Our Site is permitted. Please contact our Sales Department if you wish to have rights other than those stated above. The funny thing is that I might have just violated your policy and put Dan at risk of it as well by his republishing of it here in his comments.

Posted 11/17/2005 08:58:59 AM

I'll risk it.

Posted 11/17/2005 09:32:05 AM

Harsh. That's totally NOT Creative Commons. Are we allowed to talk about it after we read it? I won't visit, it is obviously playing on a buzz word that might bring in lots of liberal types, only to have them read conservative ideas...

Posted 11/17/2005 12:36:31 PM

Hundreds of thousands of hits for Arianna is "Star Wars"? Please... her enemy Drudge gets over 10 million hits a day.

Daniel Rubin
Posted 11/17/2005 12:52:55 PM

10 mil hits, Joe? HuffPo had 1.5 million site visits in September. Drudge had 3 mil. This according to the Vanity Fair profile of her this month. That averages to 50,000 a day, which the piece now says.

Posted 12/07/2005 01:55:24 PM

Greate, aesthetic site, love it.

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