The Verge Has Lost Its ****s
There was an air of excitement when The Verge ran their stark white interim guerrilla style blog, This Is My Next. Though it probably wouldn't have won any awards for being the world's prettiest website, I was always intrigued as to what I might find on there. There was something edgy about this band of 'renegade' journalists forming a new upstart publication with a lesser known publisher that might unsettle the status quo and ruffle a few feathers in the process.
After spending the best part of half an hour frantically refreshing my browser in anticipation of the launch of theverge.com I can't say that I was completely bowled over with what I saw when I was finally able to gain access to the site. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't brilliant either. As far as websites go, it was fine. I suppose my anticipation had gestated for so long that whatever I was presented with would have been met with some level of disappointment. That being said, there were many aspects of the website that I liked (the forums being one) but I felt a little as one does when they receive their favourite toy for Christmas - in the wrong colour. But as they say, you can't please everyone can you!
I was however, very pleased with their content. Their features were often interesting and well executed and they pump out video content like there's no tomorrow.
But I feel as though The Verge has lost its 'spunk'. In addition to their quirkier features (which I often quite enjoy) I thought they'd output the type of content that on occasion might leave readers a little hot under the collar or just plain uncomfortable and they'd do it with the same gumption and gusto that they used to establish the publication. You may recall Nilay Patel's piece, The 'broken patent system': how we got here and how to fix it that was written prior to the launch of The Verge. It got people talking. I can't think of a time when The Verge published a story that resulted in a more candid debate (excluding, of course, the never ending flame-wars about why product x is better than product y).
When I look at the kind of content networks like VICE output I am always intrigued. Their stories are truly fascinating and sometimes a little hard to stomach but as far as journalism goes their work is fantastic. They are unquestionably the masters of the hard hitting story online and publish the kind of content most networks wouldn't touch with a ten foot barge pole. They cover human interest stories from all corners of the globe - something we don't really see much of on tech sites which is a shame. Though it's true that VICE has been around since 1994 and The Verge has barely reached its first anniversary, they never fail to surprise or intrigue me with their content (see their YouTube channel here and their website here). There are seven billion people out there interacting with a massive range of technologies, from the most rudimentary all the way up to machines so complex they beggar belief.
The Verge describes itself as covering "the intersection of technology, science, art, and culture" - that's a big net. There's a whole world outside the Apple/Google/Microsoft bubble and I'd really like to hear more about it.