Walt Mossberg’s new digital site offers a lot of potential for engaging content, but it’s still suffering growing pains.
Good variety of engaging and informative columns. Expert guest columnists. Nice site design.
Much of site’s content is recycled from print. Single-sponsor advertising. Some layout flaws.
The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal‘s Walt Mossberg is often called the “the Pope” of the tech press, and with the new All Things Digital site (http://www.allthingsd.com), he’s aiming to conquer the Web as well. Mossberg, along with conference partner Kara Swisher, reviewing partner Katherine Boehert, ex-San Jose Mercury
reporter senior editor John Paczkowski, and financial backing from The Wall Street Journal, seems to be aiming to create the tech version of The Huffington Post.
Built with WordPress, the elegantly designed site delivers a combination of commentary, news analysis, product reviews, and video. Instead of following the FIFO model of a traditional blog or the multistory approach of other content sites like CNN and The Wall Street Journal, the site plays up its editors’ reputation and personality. It delivers a mix of new and old features that appeal to Mossberg fans and to attendees of Swisher and Mossberg’s popular and exclusive executive conference, which shares the site’s name.
Those unfamiliar with Mossberg, however, will be somewhat confused upon first arriving. The site doesn’t clearly state its mission up front; it offers only the cryptic statement, “It’s tech-tastic.” If you don’t know Mossberg or Swisher, the site seems to be saying, then there’s no reason for you to stick around. You’ll have to root around down in the footer to discover a longer description of the site, which leads to the About Us page.
Those who do stick around will be pleased by the mix of content. Swisher has revived her “Boomtown” column, which ran in the print version of the WSJ during the tech-boom years. It’s a tad overwritten and echoes the “Open Letter” format that Stewart Alsop used so effectively in the Agenda days, but it’s a fun read, and I’m glad it’s back.
Another greatest hit from the days of the Web bubble, “Good Morning Silicon Valley,” has sort of returned via Paczkowski, one of its writers. His “Digital Daily” section is essentially a blog, featuring snappy and snarky commentary on the news of the day, along with a daily video that hopefully will improve over time.
So far, Mossberg’s contributions are limited to Web versions of his WSJ stories and a somewhat Spartan blog, called Mossblog (a great name—but since he doesn’t own the URL, it resolves to a subdomain of allthingsd.com). His posting about Apple’s “craplet video,” which debuted a few days after his column, bemoaning all the bloated apps that show up on today’s Microsoft Windows machines, was a little too self-serving and congratulatory. But his latest post, taking the Mac faithful to task for freaking out over the Leopard delay, was clear, pointed, and right-on.
The site also features prominent guest bloggers, much as The Huffington Post does. The first, by AMD CEO Hector Ruiz, talks about how Metcalfe’s Law ought to be a stronger guiding principle in semiconductor design than Moore’s Law. It’s not the easiest read, and it mostly parrots AMD’s company line, but it’s worthwhile nonetheless. Mossberg and Swisher promise that these guest blogs will be written by the guests themselves—not by PR professionals. That’s a breath of fresh air.