Open Salon launches

Not one but two big developments (coincidentally simultaneous) in projects that are intertwined with my life! The first, noted below, was Chandler 1.0. The second is the unveiling — for what is being labeled a public beta — of something called Open Salon.

While the news is not live on the Salon site yet, it’s already on Techmeme, so I’m going to go ahead and note it.

Open Salon is the present incarnation of a project I proposed a long time ago at Salon as we tried to figure out a future for the old Salon Blogs program, which had been built on Radio Userland, a program that had fallen by the wayside.

When Dreaming in Code was done I returned to Salon and started to work on it. A year and a half later, we had some neat prototypes, but we were still awfully far from launching, I got excited about a new book idea, and it was time for me to move on.

The Open Salon that opens its doors today — it’s been in private beta for a while — is an outgrowth of the work I did back then, but of course over the past year the project has evolved much further. I’ve been concentrating too assiduously on my book deadline to do more than cheer the present effort from afar, and I can take little credit for much of anything about Open Salon in its present form. It’s the work of Kerry Lauerman and his team — and, now that the participants are using it, it’s in the hands of Salon’s readers the people formerly known as Salon’s readers, to make of it something new and exciting.

The one thing I’ll claim is to say, proudly, that from day one at Salon I was the editor pushing the publication hardest toward opening out to the Web and experimenting with ways of using it to bridge the ancient divide between writer and reader. I’m delighted to see Salon taking this next step. Congratulations to everyone there who helped make it happen.

There’s a post by Matthew Ingram up already. Also one at CNet (“Salon launches blogger ‘tipping’ system”) that, I think, may put far too much emphasis on one small feature of the project — the “tip jar.” I have no inside information but it seems inevitable to me that Salon will want to experiment with the whole idea of reward mechanisms, and I would be really surprised if the “tip jar” was the only effort made in that direction.

UPDATE: Joan Walsh’s official announcement about Open Salon is now up.

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