Mike Davidson set up Newsvine's digs with a view of Elliott Bay, a private deck for keggers, and a sign so fancy the blogosphere had>"/>
Mike Davidson set up Newsvine's digs with a view of Elliott Bay, a private deck for keggers, and a sign so fancy the blogosphere had a fit. So, Web 2.0, with all the extremes and cocaine parties on the backs of hookers as during the dot-com boom, right? Not really.
The "view" is too often blocked by rows of trains, the deck's private only because nobody's moved into the adjacent space, and the lightbulbs that illuminated the "fancy" sign have long since burned out. What's more, there's no office furniture to speak of. This kind of material minimalism and a reputation in the industry enabled Davidson to secure funding from local Internet hotshot Mike Slade in 45 minutes.
"He's a mini-legend in the Internet world," Slade says of Davidson. "He's probably one of the top 10 designers in the Internet."
Davidson, 32, oversees a news aggregator that allows anyone to pen stories alongside well-respected sources like The New York Times and the Associated Press, a formula that he says led to Newsvine breaking the Virginia Tech shootings 22 minutes before the AP. But don't call him an editor—or even a journalist, for that matter.
"There are no editors here," he says. "We consider ourselves technology enablers. I'm a blogger, which kind of comes close to being a journalist. But I'm much more of a designer than a journalist."
Davidson started his career designing posters of athletes after graduation from the University of Washington. He then skipped around a bit, working for ESPN.com and ABC.com before founding Newsvine two years ago, which, depending on your perspective, will either bring traditional media outlets to their knees or ensure their survival.
"I've always been a geek," he says. "I've been using computers since my original Commodore 64. It got to the point where my parents had to limit my time on the computer. Even when I was 6 or 7, I was spending so much time playing games like Zork."
Davidson's latest toy, Newsvine, is a bit more addictive, and his geek stripes are becoming more pronounced. (He's the kind of guy who chats on his laptop while watching TV.) And with the 2008 elections getting an early start, especially online, things are only going to get more intense.
"You could really very easily make the argument that candidates' presences online will have a material effect on how well they do in the polls," he says. "You've never been able to say that before."
To capitalize on the rabid online interest in the elections, Newsvine recently launched a widget that allows readers to follow and endorse candidates from their Web sites, which Davidson says has already doubled Newsvine's traffic.
"People don't realize we're seven people sitting in a room writing code," he insists. "I'm really not a political guy."
Whatever you say, Mike. &mdash Chris Kornelis — newsvine.com.