Welcome to The Brick House, which launches today. You’ll see a lot of changes over the week as we continue to debut our new sites, test and tinker.
We’ll be building as we go, because The Brick House is the opposite of a slick corporate product; it is handbuilt journalism—a publishing system we’re creating ourselves, from the ground up—with no advertising, no big development team, no focus groups and no executives.
What we do have is an apparently limitless pool of wild, brilliant talent, and a focused and implacable ambition to create and protect independent media. The deal, we hope, is that you give us some money, and we give you a ton of real, human writing, journalism, podcasts and art, unfiltered through any kind of corporate machinery.
We are figuring out how to create a sustainable way for writers and artists to keep doing that, and not get fired and laid off all the time for the sake of some big idiot’s ego or profits. People need and want to know what’s going on, and they want things to read and think about! We are the ones who make this stuff, and we have had about enough nonsense from all these suits running around squeezing the lifeblood out of every decent publication and impoverishing our whole culture in the process.
There are about a score of founding journalists involved in our project, from Oakland to Lagos, New York, Los Angeles, Austin, Baltimore, Ashfield, Portland, Taipei, Long Beach, Milwaukee, and Cape Town. We’ve developed a novel form of ownership, deliberately designed to protect our publications by dismantling the angles of attack that go through equity. All the money comes from direct donations, and from readers, and we share it between us. It won’t take much with such a lean business structure to create enough revenue to provide a sustainable living for these journalists and pay for our overhead. With enough reader donations, we will invite more editors and more journalists, expanding the Brick House from the inside out.
You’ve helped us launch this experiment, and build the beginnings of a dazzling, truly novel and thrilling publication. Now, let’s see if we can get this extraordinary machine to a steady state. I say YES, certainly, we can.
Marshall McLuhan said the notion that an idea could be owned was the inevitable result of the invention of printing; before that, ideas were shared through oral, ownerless traditions. The early internet empowered a similar kind of collaboration, restoring some of that earlier immediacy and camaraderie, but then the corporate internet came along to smash that spirit, so that the internet is now increasingly used to acquire, monopolize and exploit human curiosity and attention. Again, we are the ones who make this stuff, and we are not gonna let that happen, if we possibly can.
At The Brick House, we are trying to restore the transnational and egalitarian promise of the internet that so many of us fell in love with years ago. We hope you love this idea as much as we do, and that you’ll tell everyone you know about it, and come over and enjoy and help us build the beautiful new world we’re making.
With grateful thanks for your presence here, from
The Brick House Editors.