One of the tempests in the teapot of the small corner of the world known as the tech blogosphere is how (or if) super-blogger-media-empire-builder Michael Arrington can be both an investor in and advisor to some Web 2.0 startups and an objective journalist covering the field. Today, in a way that seems he’s going out of his way to prove just how objective he can be, Arrington reviews the long-anticipated (perhaps too-anticipated) Daylife, a company in which he is an early investor — and, well, whacks it with the back of his hand.
“After quickly reviewing the launch product, I am unhappy to report that I am underwhelmed by what Daylife has to offer.”
Ouch. They may want to remove his name from the list of folks they thank on the “About” page.
I am a fan of several people (and a friend to a few) associated with Daylife so I’ll withhold judgement of the site until I actually have time to spend on it. (Steve Rubel has looked and likes it.) However, my snap response (thin-slice?) to Michael’s post makes me think Daylife took an opposite approach from the development strategy advocated by Web 2.0 folk-hero Jason Fried and his 37Signals’ mantra concerning doing more with less. When something announced takes over a year to launch and is so slick in appearance, it invites itself to be judged by what it lacks — moreso than by what it has. Often, obscurity is a blessing when you’re trying out something new — obscurity makes it less likely for someone to notice what obvious RSS feed feature you’ve left out, for example. Also, (back to their About page), there are so many experts who advised or “inspired” the developers I’m guessing they may also may have experienced some of tension between what Kathy Sierra describes as “collective genius” and “the dumbness of crowds.”
Update: One of the folks who helped Daylife dawn, Jeff Jarvis, provides more information about the site and invites feedback from someone other than Michael Arrington. (I’m kidding, he didn’t say that.)
Update II: Now that I’ve spent some time on the site, I’m rather perplexed at the negative reaction of Michael Arrington. No, you can’t bust up the site and send it out via RSS yet. But it’s some of the best new web design I’ve seen in a long time — and yes, I’m calling a site that uses Flash well designed. Bonus points: No Web 2.0 fonts. It seems influenced by a school of gridded web design I’d call Subtractionistic of which I’m a big fan. There’s also some Ruffinisque (a term I feel certain that I just coined) qualities about the sense in the site’s continuous movement in reflecting what the media (including blogosphere) consider “news.” This is going to be a great site despite the incestuous bru-ha-ha taking place.