Beyond the blog.

Gawker founder Nick Denton is one of the most aggressive and successful blog publishers around.

He started with a good gut understanding of what works online, and built a federation of blogs that exploit a similar model (low overhead, smart and fast writers, efficient tech and ad sales) to great effect. Gizmodo, Gawker, IO9, Lifehacker are all category-leading blogs, or close to it; some of them (like Gizmodo) are starting to compete with traditional media as well.

But what is more significant, his operation is devoted to objective, metric analysis in a way that no one else is. Gawker’s metrics are public — and the metrics for every writer are public too. It’s at the core of the organization. And carefully watching the data, I think, has shaped his strategy more than anything. It’s also led him to be way ahead of the curve in many cases (I’m thinking of the way he started planning for a 40% decline in ad spending, in 2008, long before the rest of the media were willing to face up to what was coming).

It’s somewhat amazing, then, that he’s willing to share the results of his insights. Lifehacker today hosted his thoughts on where Gawker Media is going in 2011.

Now, this could be a classic head-fake, and perhaps Denton is only publishing this plan to throw the rest of us off. But I don’t think so. I think the advice in here is solid, and he’s publishing it because the odds of his slow-moving competitors actually being able to capitalize on this information are slim to none. Meanwhile, Denton raises his cred among smaller publishers, editors and writers, some of whom may be eager to work for him at some point.

Be that as it may, there are some good pointers in Denton’s roadmap.

Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version:

1. The news drives traffic — and more importantly, brings in new readers/viewers. Or, as Nick puts it, “aggressive news-mongering trumps satirical blogging.”

2. Aggregation is important for filling in the gaps between a few breakout stories each day. The solution? First, two types of edit staff: editors/curators, and reporters/producers/scoopmongers. Second, relegate the reverse-chron “blog flow” to a sidebar, and make the stories, not the blog, the center of attention.

3. Having a variety of content is important — even more so as your audience grows and becomes more diverse.

4. Photos, videos, and strong visual presentations work really well now.

5. You can sell video ads in banner ad spaces.

6. Gawker is being programmed more like a TV network, with time slots for stories and ad campaigns, and less like a newspaper or magazine.

7. Gawker is going after brand advertising, the traditional stronghold of magazine companies like Hearst and Conde Nast — and the TV networks. To do that, they’re going to be moving upmarket this year. Sponsorships and time-slot campaigns are the key to moving out of the doldrums of low-value, high-inventory web advertising.

Big media, watch out. Denton’s done with blogging; his next target is finding an even more profitable form of new media that blends aspects of blogging, magazine journalism, and TV.

This story subsequently edited and much improved by Ryan Singel, after which it appeared on Wired.com: Gawker Gives Up on Blogging (And That’s a Good Thing!)

Beyond the blog.

Woodrat Podcast 21: In which I talk about poetry and technology

Poet and publisher Dave Bonta spoke to me on the phone awhile back for his “Woodrat” podcast. He got me to talk about everything from how I handle submissions to tinywords, what my publishing philosophy is, why haiku is important, and what I learned from studying poetry with Louise Glück. We also talked about Twitter, of course, and how haiku is well-suited to distribution via that and other modern technologies.

It’s about 35 minutes long. Dave’s post also includes links to some of my favorite haiku and other micropoems published on tinywords.

Link: Woodrat Podcast 21: Dylan Tweney.

Woodrat Podcast 21: In which I talk about poetry and technology

Petite Android Seeks Partner for Adventure, Beer

While other phones are going large, Motorola is taking things in a different direction: small and tough.

The new Motorola Defy is a compact Android phone that wisely eschews the gigantism of other smartphones. Instead of the HTC Evo’s 4.3-inch screen or the Dell Streak’s 5-incher (please!), the Defy, which is available now from T-Mobile in the United States, has a cute little 3.6-inch display with 480 x 854 pixels. It’s small and pocketable — shorter but thicker than an iPhone 4 and it’s light, weighing just 4 ounces.

Despite its diminutive size, the Defy goes big in one important area: its resistance to water and grit. The case is water-resistant and the screen is made of scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass, a hardened material found in a few other recent phones. If you’ve ever dropped your phone in the toilet, spilled a beer on it or pulled it out of your pocket along with half a pound of sand after a day at the beach, you’ll understand the appeal of these two features.

Full story: Petite Android Seeks Partner for Adventure, Beer | Product Reviews | Wired.com.

Petite Android Seeks Partner for Adventure, Beer

What We Wish Apple Would Do With iTunes

Apple is planning an announcement Tuesday morning regarding iTunes.

Count us among the cautiously optimistic. ITunes is one of the most successful software packages in history, installed on more than 125 million computers worldwide and used for about 70 percent of all digital-music purchases. (Exact numbers are hard to find, but it’s huge.) Its reach would seem to make iTunes a terrific platform for transforming the media landscape — if it weren’t such a bloated, hard-to-use, overloaded mess.

We don’t know what Apple will be announcing Tuesday morning (7 a.m. Pacific/10 a.m. Eastern). The Wall Street Journal, citing “people familiar with the situation,” says it will include the long-awaited coming of the Beatles catalog to the iTunes Music Store. It could be the addition of a streaming-media subscription service to iTunes. It might be an overhaul of Apple’s abortive attempt at a social network, Ping. Or it could be something completely different.

Regardless of what Apple does announce, here’s what we’re hoping for.

Full story: What We Wish Apple Would Do With iTunes | Gadget Lab | Wired.com.

What We Wish Apple Would Do With iTunes

Nov. 2, 1815: Boole Born, Boolean Logic Logically Follows

1815: English mathematician George Boole, who would help establish what is now known as Boolean logic, is born.

Boole’s breakthrough was the insight that logic, which had previously been considered a branch of philosophy, was actually closer to mathematics. All you needed to do was express logical problems in a symbolic format, and they could be solved in a way similar to mathematical problems.

Largely self-taught, Boole’s education began at home, where his tradesman father taught him basic mathematics. Boole began working as a schoolteacher at age 16, and spent his evenings reading such lightweight fare as Isaac Newton’s Principia.

By the time he was 24, he was already submitting mathematical papers on differential equations and linear transformations to major journals. Boole won recognition from the Royal Society in 1844 for a paper on methods for combining algebra and calculus.

Full story: Nov. 2, 1815: Boole Born, Boolean Logic Logically Follows | This Day In Tech | Wired.com.

Nov. 2, 1815: Boole Born, Boolean Logic Logically Follows

The Undesigned Web

Design reigned supreme in the 20th century, when it was an integral part of the way artists, publishers, governments and political parties communicated to the first mass audiences.

Message and presentation were inextricably intertwined, with the latter lending power, impact and even meaning to the former. Not for nothing was Marshall McLuhan able to say, with gnomic brevity but not a little insight, “the medium is the message.”

But in the 21st century, Internet standards have successfully separated design and content. The two live more interdependent lives, sometimes tightly tied and sometimes completely separated from one another.

The message is now free from the medium.

It’s that separability of design and text that has led to the third wave of the web, in which readers (or what some would call end-users) are in control of how the content they are reading looks. And, as it turns out, many of those readers like their designs to be as minimal as possible.

Call this wave The Undesigned Web.

Story continues: The Undesigned Web – Dylan Tweney – Technology – The Atlantic.

The Undesigned Web