Yesterday we launched the redesign of Autopia, and while the aesthetics are an obvious improvement (props to the Wired design team for their incredibly hard work), the feature I was looking forward to the most was the implementation of the “Elsewhere” section. In my modest estimation, this is the future of aggregation, providing readers a one-stop-shop for all things automotive, while allowing the editors and writers to work on the original news and in-depth features expected of Wired.
During my 6-year stint at Autoblog, the aggregation model that helped make us so successful – and thousands of other sites covering hundreds of other topics – always made me feel, at best, a little dirty, and at worst, like a content pirate sapping the efforts of great writers, reporters and sources. With this new Elsewhere section, that need to rewrite other outlet’s content has been all but decimated.
To be clear, there’s a still an obvious market for some kind of link aggregation, but only if it adds value to the story on which it’s based. Daring Fireball, written and curated by John Gruber, is a prime example, with a linked headline to the original story, followed by a brief snippet of text and a bit of analysis included below. Tech enthusiasts go to Daring Fireball for Gruber’s take on the latest Apple news (among other subjects), and his format (now 10 years old) not only does right by the original author/outlet, but adds value for the reader. This is sharing done right – not rewriting an original news story and burying the link at the bottom of the text.
For Autopia, we’re obviously in a different situation than the normal aggregation sites, the buff books, or even something like Daring Fireball. We’re appealing to a broad audience, with different expectations, and wide-ranging interests. Transportation just happens to be one of them.
But by providing a single, easily accessible source of what’s happening the in the world of cars, bike, planes, trains, and whatever random Renault concept comes out of Paris, we’re playing fair with both our readers and the outlets we frequent.
It’s more work for editors- and writers-turned-curators, but it’s also extremely liberating. We get to continue do what we do best, while better serving our audience in the process. And I can’t ask for much more.