May 16, 2008

Duncan Riley's First Week at The Inquisitr Is Inspiring

When news first hit that Duncan Riley had left TechCrunch, I thought his departure might see him theoretically fading into something like the proverbial sunset, as one of the blogosphere's most notable characters could have declared "Enough", put down his keyboard and gone home. On the news, I publicly wished him well, and hoped he would keep "staying aggressive". (See my comment.)

Not only has Duncan Riley stayed absolutely relevant, but he's captured the "aggressive" piece as well. Now, arguably, I'm reading Duncan Riley's news with more interest than I had been when he was at TechCrunch, and a week in, his transition to The Inquisitr, his new home, seems perfectly natural. Just one week in, the new site is getting about ten times the page views as I am, and he reports subscribers have already eclipsed my number, rocketing upwards to the 2,000 mark (myself included). Not shabby at all.

Part of the intrigue posed by The Inquisitr is Duncan's mix of both tech news, which makes sense, and more spicy celebrity news, which can also be interesting, even to us jaded geeks. And the reduced stress through no longer posting at the grindstone of TechCrunch has clearly lightened Duncan's mood. Virtually gone are the f-bombs that would be a common sight on his Twitter feed, replaced instead with a plethora of smiley-face emoticons. And in the midst of his move, Duncan has even opened up to reconsider his stance on a few things where we had locked horns back in March.

To those unfamiliar, in mid-March, amidst unprecedented hype around FriendFeed, Duncan took a look at the service for TechCrunch, and came away unimpressed. Responding, I said, undiplomatically, that he had missed the point, and argued a response. As I wrote Duncan in an e-mail earlier this week, at the time, I had used his name in the headline to differentiate from TechCrunch, who has multiple authors, and had previously written some positive notes on the service, but my write-up hit him quite personally. Making matters worse, my response stayed atop Techmeme virtually all day that Friday, which I was monitoring from my sun-drenched seats at Spring Training in Arizona.

The unexpected exposure definitely had gotten under Duncan's craw, as the next morning, I awoke to a follow-on note from Duncan on his personal site, that bluntly questioned my goals and credibility. Uninterested in fanning the flames further, and gaining an enemy for life, I stayed quiet, but others made plenty of comments on my behalf.

Knowing this is a small industry, I hoped Duncan and I could reconcile the differences. After all, who knew when we would see each other at an event? What if we were on the same panel or even were asked to speak on the same podcast? But as the rift had been very public, I thought it unfortunately might not ever happen - until this week. Now at The Inquisitr, Duncan sent me an e-mail on Monday asking if I could help him understand why I supported FriendFeed. He said he was even open to reconsidering his stance and would listen to opposing viewpoints. So, not only did I send him a lengthy note with my answers, (See: The Inquisitr: Why You Should Use FriendFeed), but I also gave him more background on the March flare-up. I have always respected Duncan's efforts, and see him as a good writer, but if there was ever an example of getting off on the wrong foot... this had been it.

Monday night, I opened up the laptop, and saw that not only was the story published, but Duncan had re-signed up to FriendFeed, and was talking up his renewed relationship with the site via Twitter. It's a wonder what the combination of reduced stress, a little communication, and time can do. Now, you can find Duncan on FriendFeed, and he's doing more than using it as a broadcast medium, but he's engaged. He's commenting, and liking and giving tips to fellow users.

I'm liking the content I'm seeing from The Inquisitr. It's a fun read, and there's a good pace of new articles coming in through the RSS feed. But I'm more pleased (and relieved) the public rift with Duncan is over. As with the back and forth I had with Mashable back in January, there are definitely things I would change about the words I wrote, and the way things were portrayed, but in the end, we're stronger for it. I get along excellently with the team at Mashable, from Adam Ostrow to Mark Hopkins, and now, I feel I know Duncan better than I would have otherwise. Given the industry's size, it makes sense we try and avoid these battles that tear us down, and instead work to prop each other up. I'm glad Duncan's at a place where he can contribute to the tech blogosphere and stay stress-free. We're all better for it.