Finally, months after the mass exodus and living underground planning their Next move, the former editiorial core of Engadget launched The Verge, their newest and most ambitious project to date. I feel underwhelmed. Maybe it was the constant hype leading up to yesterday’s big day. I can’t put my finger on it.
The website looks amazing, to the point of almost being visually overstimulating. You want to click everything all at once, making you feel like a child who can’t decide which gift to open first on Christmas morning. Which I guess is the point. There are more - bigger - images, videos and sounds. Nothing about the design feels nerdy, even if the content is incredibly so. To The Verge’s credit, there’s an obvious aura of cool to the whole endavour no other tech site can really match. Except, that’s largely a reflection on the great design work of Code and Theory and Area 17. Beneath the incredible candy coating however, The Verge and its content remain firmly in the traditions of Engadget, Ars Technica and Gizmodo. I might be the only one having expected more; The Verge will certainly please the audience that reads those other sites and its stable of writers are some of the best in their field.
My criticism betrays my hidden feelings of disapointment. When Topolsky, Patel, Stern, Miller and Ziegler announced the project, I was excited at the potential. When I read the introductory article, my hopes were even confirmed. Here’s Topolsky himself:
We’re focused on bringing you — our extremely savvy and frankly very handsome readers — the best and most comprehensive coverage of the consumer technology world. Not just the nuts and bolts, 24-hour news cycle stuff, but more in-depth coverage, bigger stories, and content that goes further.
Except scanning the headlines on days 1 and 2, I’ve only found the best and most comprehensive coverage of the same kind of news I can find elsewhere(Literally). I did find one article, a fantastic piece on privately owned bunkers, that did fullfill the promise of “content that goes further” but I’m hard pressed to find another. Besides, their biggest story on launch day? A brief, BMW sponsored fluff-piece interview with John Gruber. While The Verge may aspire to be more, it’s certainly telling when the ads stick closely to the bread and butter content that allowed them to get to this point in the first place.
The truth is, I’ve outgrown websites like The Verge. I don’t care for comments, forums or nifty side by side product comparisions. I no longer enjoy websites whose front pages are littered with dozens of clicable boxes and scrollable banner ads. Foolishly, I had dreamed The Verge had outgrown those things too.
While I may never become its greatest fan, there’s alot to be hopeful and optimistic about. Why? Because what’s most glaring about The Verge is how large the support network behind it is. SB Nation, and its parent company Vox media, have obviously spared no expense in creating and publishing the go-to technology website in its genre. The staff is larger and, more importantly, the advertising partners are a notch above for a website in its class. If the right number of eyeballs show up, The Verge’s economics alone will put it over the top of its competitors. Those are good things. With more resources, the potential for content that goes further remains. Verge 1.0 might not be for me, but there are still chances that Verge 2.0 could.
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