Straight from the Source: Introducing Pieria

Straight from the Source: Introducing Pieria

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So what’s different about Pieria? Or more bluntly, ‘what do I get when I visit Pieria? What exactly is a social network of experts and online magazine anyway? And now that I’m thinking about it, what does the name Pieria even mean?

                                                                                   the name

Marco: We get that a lot. In fact we had to look it up ourselves, although that was kind of the point. We were in the ‘office’ - then the Eagle & Vulture - working through our ideas and realized that we needed a name for the site because we were putting together a presentation to take to potential investors and members and obviously we had to call it something and hadn’t yet found one.

Tomas: We focused on what makes the site different, which is our experts and the fact that they are our sources of information. And Marco said why don’t we play with the word ‘source’ and look up some obscure rivers and lakes and see whether we can’t find something that sounds interesting...

Marco: Yea, my feeling was that, in terms of a brand name, it didn’t really matter what it was necessarily, you can’t predetermine it, it will acquire meaning through what we do as company and through our relationships with our readers and members...I wanted something short and unique and after about a pint and a half of looking Tom came across ‘The Pierian Spring’ which according to Greek Mythology is said to be an inspiration to the muses and a source of wisdom and knowledge. Perfect! Who wouldn’t want to identify themselves with that right, so we shortened the name to Pieria and here we are.

                                                   the social network of experts & online magazine

Marco: Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who it must be said, ain’t exactly known for his love of journalists made the point - and it’s equally as important to note where he made the point. ie. his Facebook page - that the tragedy with the media is that the ‘doers (so people with ‘skin in the game’) are in contact with the world through journalists’.

I think this is a bit of an oversimplification, but it’s a useful way to frame the way the majority of us consume information. Which continues to change rapidly with social media, people have direct access to information...but my point regarding the Taleb quote is just to illustrate that there is a recognition of certain aspects of the media that could work better and that is one of the areas we are exploring.

We are giving readers in effect direct access to the sources of our information, and giving our experts an unmediated platform in which to share and discuss their ideas. We want to bring the reader and the producers of this information closer together. And this is an interesting journalistic challenge, because it includes elements of facilitation rather than just straight reportage or opinion writing.

Tomas: It’s true that for the general interest publications experts are by and large represented via journalists, though there are obviously op-eds etc. Their goal is different, they simplify complex ideas into an understandable format for non-specialists. This is important as a way into complicated issues (especially in finance) and to provide a common language for discussing issues....and on the other side of the spectrum you have the journals and the trade magazines, niche publications that exist mainly outside of the wider academics to academics, industry to industry. A lot of fascinating pertinent conversations being had in silos.

                                                                              what’s the difference?

Marco: So finally to answer your question. We got there eventually. What I feel makes Pieria different is that we are systematically trying to bridge the gap between these different groups with a focus not on breaking news, but of exploring and going deeper into some of the biggest issues facing the economy. And to approach the task in a novel way. And for our members a main benefit is obviously audience. Reaching readers who share similar professional interests and as well have a certain sensibility; openness, curiosity, a desire to challenge ideas and have interesting discussions.

Tomas: We’re not a newspaper. Not in the traditional understanding of the term. So we don’t see our function as ‘speaking truth to power’, call it transparent journalism, networked journalism, open source journalism, with elements of a think tank, social network, members club, research institution. It’s all of these things. We have a specific area of focus, which is the economy, and will cover it from, and this is essential to point out, from a non-ideological and political viewpoint.

Marco: News, notably of the who, what, where and why variety is a commodity now. The volume and speed of available information is staggering, especially online. So there is a growing importance on focusing on curation, perspective, interpretation and context. You see this everywhere. It’s what Jay Rosen calls explainers and is where I first came across the idea. It’s nothing new.

Bloggers do this with their daily reading lists, Felix Salmon for example with his Counterparties section at Reuters,  Abnormal Returns dedicates itself to just curation and is an invaluable guide to what’s being published in finance. The Browser and Longreads points readers to great longform pieces of writing, so there is a real need for a filter on all this information and it’s encouraging that good work is getting found amidst the noise. So our experts if you like are also acting as our filter on what is important and worthwhile avenues of inquiry to pursue as well as helping us to explore current issues.

This article is an ongoing conversation. So if you have a question, ask us in the comment section and we'll respond as soon as possible. Thanks.

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