The TPUTH, Part I

February 10, 2010

TPUTH brings four major iA strings together: 1. designing news, 2. monitoring web trends, 3. monetizing content, and 4. being straight forward. In the first post, we’d like to explain some things about the Design and the Technology…

SITE-TPUTH

1. Designing News

As you might know by now iA has designed a series of newspapers (all together they generate over three billion page views per year). Doing our own in-house project from scratch is an old dream come true. It’s a continuation of the collaboration with Craig Mod on webtrendmap.com; and of course, it’s product long in the making. For those who are curious:

  1. Concept: iA Inc. and Craig
  2. Frontend Design: iA Inc.
  3. Programming and Backend: Craig

Craig and I had pitched the idea last autumn to YCombinator and showed the prototype to a couple of investors and Silicon Valley sheriffs (Robert Scoble, Dave McClure, Michal Migurski, Aydin Senkut). At the time we called it a personalized newspaper based on Twitter lists.

First things first: Both the name and the design of TPUTH were obviously inspired by the Russian PRAVDA. From Wikipedia:

Pravda (Russian: Правда, “Truth”) was a leading newspaper of the Soviet Union and an official organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party between 1912 and 1991. After the paper was closed down in 1991 by decree of then-President Boris Yeltsin, many of the staff founded a new paper with the same name, which is now a tabloid-style Russian news source.

Now, just to be perfectly clear about the Socialist thing:

  1. No one put it better than our friend Dave McClure: “The Internet does NOT want to be FREE… It wants to GET PAID on Fucking Friday, just like everybody else on the damn planet.” (More on that later)
  2. We believe that capitalism and socialism have both come to an end; Socialism with the fall of the Berlin Wall; capitalism with the big Bailout of 2008/2009.
  3. We believe that what we are about to see is a truly free market, where the price of a product is not defined by control over market communication, but by creating superior products.
  4. We believe that people need to pay for good electronic goods. Not much, never forced, but the digital native doesn’t use a service repeatedly without showing appreciation.

Of course, the Soviet Russian aesthetic is mainly a satirical punch: We find it deeply amusing, how

  • the whole corporate world now runs after so called social media and its communist spirit.
  • tech news tabloids like Techcrunch, Gawker, or Mashable create one hysterical headline after another (Google “Killer” here, Twitter “Killer” there), and rarely use the strongest weapon of tabloid news: humor.
  • not a single tech resource really has a design with designer balls

Comparison TPUTH - PRAVDA

Typographically, explaining TPUTH is somewhat like explaining a live Tetris game. We used letters from the Russian word Pravda and molded them according to our aesthetic-alphabetical logic. To fully understand the puzzle, you need to have a look at the original Russian typography of Правда (“PRAVDA”, which means “truth”) and труд (“TRUD”, which means “work”):

LOGO-TPUTH

  1. We used the russian R which looks like a P in the western alphabet
  2. We inverted the Russian P — which looks like an aggressive U
  3. We mutilated the Russian D — which looks like a strange A — into a scary looking H

The rest came almost by itself. The choice of Impact for headlines is a very tough step, since Impact only works at really big sizes. Yet it seemed logical to use that font for a tabloid.

TPUTH.com Breaking News with the Social Hammer

Replacing Lenin with Schmidt, Gates, Jobs was a no brainer. Since William III. is not the most exciting face right now, we put his nemesis, Eric Schmidt first in the pole position. Since Steve and Eric don’t get along so well lately, we put Bill in between. Now, the only guy bigger than Steve Jobs is Jesus, so we had no other choice than adding The Jesus from the Big Lebowsky.

2. Monitoring Web Trends

Most people know our our yearly publication, the Web Trend Map. Last August we built a digital counterpart, webtrendmap.com for the owners of the map. It allows you to build your own digital Web Trend Map.

TPUTH.com builds on the engine behind webtrendmap.com. We call it The Web Trend Machine. It filters out the links from the most successful tweets and evaluates them using a series of interconnected metrics. The Web Trend Machine has been growing since last August and now monitors over 9,000 high profile twitter accounts. It has collected, indexed, and crosslinked over 300 gigabytes of link data. It’s a hell of a machine. And we have optimized it so it can now filter specific Twitter lists and analyze the link trends within these lists.

While the machine is as geeky as you can imagine, the backend interface is the very opposite. It’s easy, fast and pretty. Optimized for quickly choosing, editing, cross referencing, and publishing the best links, it allows us to publish two days of headlines in more or less 30 minutes.

Wanna hear more? Interested in building your own TPUTH? Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a blob plugin, or if you could rent the Web Trend Machine and build your own newspaper built on your personal Twitter lists? Ha! Wait until you hear about our monetization model….

More on that tomorrow. It was a long day!

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