Former Engadget editor Joshua Topolsky made a big announcement yesterday, finally revelaing his new tech site, The Verge, will be coming this fall.
In the tech press world, Topolsky’s departure from Engadget and AOL — and the following exodus to his site This is my next — was big news. But it was decidedly inside baseball.
On the outside, it seemed to be an over-covered story; “Hate To Be Rude, But Readers Don't Care,”said one headline at Business Insider
The announcement of the new site, however, came with much pomp and circumstance: Topolsky announced the new site on an appearance of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and even gave away free Chromebooks to commemorate the announcement.
Then there’s the site itself. Hosted by sports site SBNation and sponsored by BMW, The Verge is a prime example of the way that geek news is busting its way out of its niche, something my Post colleague Alexandra Petri called “The Geek Bubble.”
It’s no secret that gadgetry and its accompanying nerd culture have become a sort of counter-cool. People think nothing of standing in long lines for latest smartphone or Harry Potter movie, just like they do for a ticket to a concert by the latest pop star.
That’s because geeks are a big brand. Just ask mega-retailer Best Buy, which got into a spat with online computer supply site Newegg over the site’s “Geek On” marketing campaign.
Best Buy objected to the campaign because of its prominent use of the word “geek” along with its orange coloring scheme. A commercial poking fun at Best Buy employees didn’t help matters either.
Regardless of how you side in that fight, however, one thing is clear: for a company, branding yourself as a geek is a good thing. It lends you a sense of expertise and authority, even if it still sometimes comes with the trappings of social awkwardness.
Watching how The Verge fits in with SBNation’s existing readership will be a study in the mainstreaming of geek culture, and a true test of the geek brand.
After all, it is creating an unholy alliance between nerds and jocks.
Check out the segment from Fallon’s show here: