In late 2009, a little more than a decade ago, I started this blog. It wasn’t my first time blogging, but it was my first sustained effort and I might have started it sooner if it hadn’t been for the difficulty of picking a suitable name. After far too much deliberation, someone close to me suggested “Beyond the times,” which I liked because it captured my interest in the media and in the future.
My subject, as I announced it to quite literally no one, was to cover “The Internet, Information, and the Public Sphere.”
I’ve written more than 350 posts over the intervening years, and a lot has changed since then. When I started, I was writing about the media from outside of it. But almost a year after launching the blog, I wrote a post about dating algorithms, in response to a piece on The Atlantic’s newly launched tech vertical. That led to some contributions to the section, which led to a job reporting on tech for a news startup, which led to jobs at HBR and now Quartz.
Since joining the media eight years ago, I’ve written less about it. I still have lots of opinions about media and journalism, of course. But my writing has focused on innovation and the economy, and today I’m renaming the blog to reflect that.
This blog’s name is now Nonrival, to reflect my current focus on economics and my continued interest in information and innovation.
Most economic goods are “rivalrous,” meaning if one person consumes them then another person can’t. If you and I have an apple, you can eat it or I can eat it or we can split it. We can’t both eat the whole apple. But nonrivalrous goods are different. If I share an idea with you, we both get to enjoy it. If you share it with someone else, it doesn’t take anything away from me. Digital goods are nonrival.* A Netflix episode is more like an idea than an apple. The new name captures my focus not just on the internet but its economic effects.
And to the extent that “nonrival” has any meaning colloquially, it’s one I like, too. One of the topics I blogged about most in the early days was collaboration, and “nonrival” gets at some of that spirit.
I’m hoping to add a Nonrival newsletter soon, too. You can sign up in advance here.
*OK, sure, not totally. Server space and various other physical goods that support digital ones may be rivalrous.