Monday, September 11, 2006

Wag the Slate

Wag the Slate is a community blog. It draws its members from Slate’s the fray. The name (Wag the Slate) doesn’t say it all, but it does say something about the origins of the blog. It’s a mixture of:

- Wag the Dog:

"Why does a dog wag its tail? Because a dog is smarter than its tail. If the tail was smarter, the tail would wag the dog."
- The Wisdom of Crowds:

“large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant—better at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions, even predicting the future.” and
- The Long Tale:

"The future of creating demand lies not at the head of the curve (e.g., [Slate Magazine]) but rather down the "Long Tail" of niches [(e.g., the fray)]."
In this case, Slate’s readers taking the focus off Slate by reposting their fray posts here, where they are searchable, and treated as “content”. This is in stark contrast to how Slate treats their reader’s posts.

The fray has a long history in internet terms. It has been in existence in various incarnations since 1996. Its current form hasn’t changed significantly since I first discovered the fray in late 2000. Essentially, the fray is a bulletin board, where readers can “top post”, or post in reply to fray posts. To put things in a little perspective, Instapundit was a fray poster before he was instapundit. Reynolds remains the most notable fray poster to graduate to bigger and better publishing tools, but he is by no means the only fray poster to recognize the limitations the fray imposes on those it introduces to online publishing, and so chose to leave the fray for greener grass.

This filtering up of bloggers and professional writers from the fray to other venues is due in part to the fray’s long history. But simply existing, like stray net entangling budding writers, is not the primary reason the fray has spawned so many successful writers. The primary reason is charity. Bill Gate’s charity to be precise. By giving Slate prominent linkage on, new and not so new web surfers are sent Slate’s way, and once there, many are exposed to their first taste of online personal publishing via the fray. In a sense, the fray is, by default, ideally anchored to catch talented, erudite and energetic thinkers and writers at their first exposure to the power of personal online publishing. Unfortunately, the publishers and editors of Slate remain unaware of their unique advantage, and have failed to invest in the fray the resources and technology to tap the potential that passes right under their noses.

That’s my opinion. Wag the Slate is my argument. It is a wellhead. For a myriad of reasons, from humility, to time constraints, to indifference, many of the fray’s best posters remain in the fray. These are among the first group of posters I’ve invited to join Wag the Slate. Add to them the new posters who would otherwise forget the fray soon after it helped them discover their muse, and I see Slate taking note of the ever increasing traffic coming from Wag the Slate. That traffic consisting of Slate’s fray posters who have opted to repost their fray posts where the wider internet can find them, and of people drawn to Slate, not by the content of its columnists, but by the content of its readers.

Wag the Slate is our letter to the editor. It may take months or years to write, but its message is simple. Dear Slate: Take care of the fray, and the fray will take care of business.

Introduction and faq.

To join Wag the Slate, email


Justoffal said...

Greetings! I see you have managed to copy the slate banner crimson with a fair amount of accuracy.

I assume you are ENDER of the fray.

I will be perusing your preamble in order to determine what types of discussions you wish to engender here.

JohnMcG said...

Testing 123