Why supporting real journalists, authors, artists, publishers and experts is needed more than ever now
The war on original, authentic content — what we are doing to fight it and how can you help
“So why don’t you make your own own magazine?,” she said to me on the bus on the way to my first rock bands festival. It was early in 1976, I had just completed our group’s performance of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, and had been writing stories, creating and playing music. It was an exciting, though confusing time in the world and for me. Bohemian Rhapsody had just hit #1, the counterculture movement was underway, and far away in Cupertino, a small company called Apple Computer was being founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality
Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see
Freddie Mercury for A Night at the Opera, by Queen
Little did I know that moment would start a chain of events that would lead to moving to Cupertino — and a lifetime of working with artists, writers, authors, publishers and creators. All because of one thing:
The Apple Mac changed everything.
For the first time, we had a technology that actually helped people create digital content, publish and distribute it directly. This incredible idea empowered 100,000’s of new journalists, editors, artists, influencers and video creators — and coupled with the launch of the web and social networking, created one of the most exciting times in our history.
Until something went terribly wrong.
Suddenly, we find ourselves in a crisis — there are literally millions of unverified content sources with fake stories and reviews today, and as a result, digital advertising market is facing a lack of trust and a consolidation, which in turn is leading to the decline of publisher businesses.
In real life, we are most drawn to content that is popular, social, authoritative, or through advertising, brands we love, celebrities or our friends. We realized that while the web has been a fantastic technology for popular (search) and social (friends), we are missing a trust-driven, global verified experts platform.
To solve this problem, we started with asking what users really want? What if, instead of starting with content, we started by finding real critics and experts, and designed the full-product ground up where verified experts are known?
The Big Idea
“A change of perspective is worth 80 IQ points.”
Alan Kay, inventor of the graphical user interface, first laptop, and a lot more
In 2014, while at a meeting back at Apple, I asked the question, “what would you do with this idea?” and wham, Eddy Cue’s response instantly hit me as one of the biggest ideas I had heard — “You should build this for content from experts for businesses”
I remember each of the moments in my life when something radical, life-changing with the potential to change the world were born, and knew in my heart, that this was one of those moments.
In early 2016, to help vet the idea (a crucial step in Silicon Valley) I reached out to Eric Schmidt who helped setup time with John Giannandrea with Jason Rosenberg at Google, JG’s deep understanding and response helped us move Sage to full development—“Expertise is a fundamental pillar that is needed for the web and maps”
We started with a 100 manually nominated experts, creators and publishers, and grew it to 1,000 and starting in 2016, used that data-set to train AI to help us build the first global list of editors, publishers and influencers. Following this, we built a platform Sage Plus for Experts — where they can claim their profiles, create their official accounts and start creating content, experiences and products direct to consumers. Why Sage? Because supporting real journalists, authors, publishers and experts is needed more than ever now.
Somewhere along the way, the magic occurred — we started to see fundamentally different lists of curated places, reviews and content based on this completely new point of view—that real editors and experts matter.
What can you do to help? If you know, trust or follow any editor, author, publisher, influencer, curator or celebrity that create original content about places, they should be on Sage.
Please go to SagePlusforExperts.com to get early access to this new platform, and once you are on it, tell us what you love and what you would like us to evolve or add.
And oh, back to the beginning, I did listen to the girl—and created my first tiny magazine and manually printed it — and was transformed by the sheer joy that comes from creating original content that touches people. That feeling has never left me, and continues to fuel my love of building platforms to help people create and distribute their original work today.
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Sage Plus is a result of working with some of the most incredible people since we started building platforms for creators. Bill Atkinson and Laurent Ribardière who built HyperCard and 4th Dimension; the Information Navigation team at Apple and Rae Technology; Clement Mok, David Kleinberg and Sal Arora and the team at NetObjects that helped create the first visual Website Builder; Rick Smolan, 24 Hours in Cyberspace; The team and 10,000 bloggers and creators at Glam Media; Marc Andreessen and Gina Bianchini, for creating Ning; the team at Mode; the incredible team at Sage Digital and all the platform builders whose inventions allows creators to author original content including Paul Brainerd, PageMaker and Evan Williams for creating Blogger, Twitter and Medium.
Since our meeting, we focused Sage Plus for editors, experts and curators in travel, lifestyle, food, experiences, and things to do—as Jeff Jarvis continues to ask me, why not for News? There are several efforts to solve that incredibly important problem, including Medium, Apple News, Google and that would make for a completely different story, right? /:-)