The collision of journalism and digital technology

riptideRiptide is “an oral history of the epic collision between journalism and digital technology, from 1980 to the present.” It is a collaborative project of interviews and an essay between Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy and the Nieman Journalism Lab.

In Riptide, John Huey, Martin Nisenholtz, and Paul Sagan interview sixty one influential people “who played important roles in the intersection of media and technology — from CEOs to coders, journalists to disruptors.”

WordPress is a key, yet admittedly underlying, piece of the puzzle that has so drastically changed journalism and publishing. Among the incredibly impressive list of new and old media titans interviewed are influential bloggers who publish on WordPress, such as Om Malik and Andrew Sullivan; and most notably WordPress' co-founder, Matt Mullenweg.

The interviews in general are casual and unscripted. The one with Matt Mullenweg has a couple of highlights that interested me. For one, this is the most detail I've seen from Matt to describe his early days developing WordPress alongside his working for CNET. Also, I enjoyed hearing Matt's take on the effect of modern social platforms on blogging, especially in regard to how he talks about his vision for's Reader project and his hints of the future importance for that project.

Here's the entire video:

It cracked me up when the interview paused due to the doorbell ringing and it turns out to be Om Malik, casually interrupting. “It's a small world.”

Essay on journalism and digital disruption

In addition to the interviews, there's a fifteen chapter essay that discusses this media disruption. I'd recommend you specifically check out ‘Chapter 9: Birthing the Blogosphere‘. Matt Mullenweg is quoted here as well, but there are also insightful segments from blogging pioneer Dave Winer, Gawker founder Nick Denton, Huffington Post founder Arrianna Huffington, and more. They each have full length interviews as well.

Built on WordPress, too

And of course, the Riptide website itself is built on WordPress. Joshua Benton is the director of Harvard's Nieman Journalism Lab, and I believe he's also the primary developer of the Riptide site.

Joshua is a coder that I discovered when he registered to Post Status (achievement unlocked!) a few months ago. I've been keeping up with Nieman Lab and Josh's work since, and he tipped me off to the pending release of Riptide. I look forward to offering more details on Josh's work at Nieman Lab, his views on WordPress in the realm of digital publishing, and more about Riptide's inner workings sometime in the near future.

Meanwhile, I think it's worth noting that the site looks and functions pretty great. It's a perfect use-case for WordPress.

A great resource

The freely available interviews, knowledge, and insight in Riptide is staggering to me. I'll definitely have these interviews running while I work for at least the next week. It's really an exceptional project that, from what I can tell so far, is really well done by the Shorenstein Center and Nieman Lab.