SB 822

I’m passionate about how net neutrality enables startups to thrive without getting permission or paying taxes to the ISPs that people pay to get online.

Net neutrality is the simple principle that the marketplace, not ISPs, gets to decide what apps, websites, and services win and lose, and it’s enabled tens of thousand of entrepreneurs to build new things.

Recently, I’ve been asking California startups to sign a startup/investor support letter for a great state bill that would reinstate the 2015 net neutrality protections that are about to expire, thanks to an FCC that only cares about ISPs. …


When I quit my editing job at Wired in 2012 to spend more time with my startup, Contextly was focussed on helping readers dive deeply into a story, via smart related links at the end of stories.

I was frustrated then at the state of digital publishing tools and the lack of innovation in the news media generally.

I still am.

After all, one of the benefits of digital publishing over paper publishing is the ability of readers to find stories that aren’t that day’s stories.

We found that readers *really* respond to smart related recommendations pointing them into a…


Publishers have just gained a potent tool in the battle for readers’ attention and loyalty. On Tuesday, Contextly introduces Channels.

Many publishers write stories that consistently fall into a small number of topics. Contextly Channels now make it possible for readers to subscribe to these topics as newsletters without any editorial work.

What are Channels and how do they work?

1) Contextly will identify 10–20 topics that are most salient in your publication. The objective is to have over 50% of your stories fall into one of these topics. These form the basis of Channels. The Channels do not rely…


Philly Magazine isn’t paying for that ad. Big Cola is.

Bernie Sanders rallied tens of millions of voters by decrying the influence of corporate dollars in U.S. politics. But that’s not stopping big corporate donors from using his writing as part of illegal campaign advertisements.

That’s thanks, in no small part, to the failure of the Federal Trade Commission to police the “sponsored content” industry.

Despite Sanders disdain for corporate money, a lobbying group funded with nearly $4.5M from the American Beverage Association has been secretly promoting, via online ads, a Sanders Op-Ed.

The point is to convince voters defeat a soda tax ordinance on the ballot in Oakland, CA…


Following The News Just Got A Whole Lot Easier

Following the news that you care about shouldn’t be hard.

But we’ve all had that situation where we read a story that leaves us with questions and wanting us to know what’s next. Just recently, the two-week Ellen Pao sexual discrimination case roiled Silicon Valley, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced he would not seek re-election, and, in California, nearly everyone is concerned about the ongoing drought.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to a miss crucial update to a story, or to show up in the middle of a story and feel like you have been dumped into the Sea-of-Contextlessness.


A single evergreen is easy to spot. But you need serious technology to see them all. It’s as true with stories as it is with conifers.

Let me start with a bold statement, follow with an anecdote and then end with a gift.

The Bold:

A publisher’s best older stories are more valuable to readers today than the day’s newest stories.

Stick a great older story from the archives on the front page — and it’ll do better than anything else on the page.

Okay, I don’t have that proof yet, but we have seen some pretty amazing things with “evergreen” stories…


Credit: Len Matthews

There’s been 3.7 million comments filed to the FCC over the issue of net neutrality — making it the most commented-on proposal in the commission’s history.

Nearly all the comments were rebelling against the FCC’s weak oversight proposal that would allow last-mile ISPs and mobile carriers to set up fast and slow lanes on the internet, among other chicanery.

The vast majority of commenters, like many public interest groups, are calling for the FCC to treat ISPs such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T as “telecommunication services” or common carriers.

I’d also bet that nearly every one of those comments were…


The FCC wants to make good on President Obama’s pledge to make net neutrality into law. It’s just having a very hard time actually doing it.

Net Neutrality is the simple concept that the company that provides you internet access on your phone and at your house should be a utility — like a phone company. It should deliver you the information you ask for at the speed you are promised without playing favorites or blocking or degrading services.

That sounds like a simple enough goal, and it’s an incredibly important goal.

It’s the principle that has allowed innovation on…


Net Neutrality is dead as of Tuesday.

A D.C. appeals court, acting on a petition by Verizon, declared that the FCC lacked the authority to enforce the compromise rules it imposed on the telecoms in 2011 that provide your home and mobile phones with internet services.

These rules were intended to let you use the devices and online services of your choice and to prevent Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from mucking with the network to serve their self-interest.

This was not a decision based on a “technicality.” Instead the judges ruled based on something fundamental.

The court essentially said…


Just days after 9/11, Bush launched a “War on Terror,” broadly defined and poorly conceived. The problem with launching a war on a tactic, especially a nebulous and cheap one, is that there’s no real way to end that war.

And that’s how we ended up with the Summer of Snowden, where we’ve started to finally learn how far the intelligence community, the executive branch and the Congress are willing to go to in the never-ending quest to catch a terrorist.

There’s no existential threat to the nation as there actually was in the Cold War.

But both the Bush…

Ryan Singel

Founder of @contextly, helping publishers build loyal audiences. Fellow at Stanford Law’s Center for Internet and Society. Former editor at Wired.com.

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