I joined Parse.ly as a business intern right after college graduation—I’m going to graduate school in Europe—in order to learn how publishers can use web analytics to improve their content and encourage audience engagement. In all my previous internships, I watched as my editors worked feverishly to adapt to the changing landscape of media, from developing their first iPad applications to revamping their websites to accommodate growing online content. It took many years for some of the magazines to even acknowledge that their readers wanted online content. With digital publishing, my editors became able to interact directly with their readers and gain feedback—both written and unwritten—immediately. It was both exciting and overwhelming.
For college, I attended Columbia, where I studied anthropology and art history—and took the occasional course at the graduate school of journalism. I reveled in the past—I even studied abroad in Paris, one of the greatest modern cities to live in the past. I interned on print and web editorial sides at Vogue, Teen Vogue, Miss Vogue Australia, Oyster, Town & Country, Women’s Wear Daily, and Seventeen, and worked on numerous student-run publications, including founding the campus fashion magazine, Hoot.
I never became discouraged by naysayers when I was told that “journalism is dead”—after all, there will always be a necessity for honest, accurate, and engaging reporting, but it might not be presented or shared in the traditional way. That’s okay—my grandparents didn’t even have a reliable mail delivery system in China, and I’m concerned for my social life when I don’t receive a text message for 24 hours. Parse.ly builds tools not only to help digital publishers sustain their business and encourage quality content, but also to help you and me—the individual bombarded by billions of data bytes every day—get the most out of our information sourcing everyday.
I may have studied more critical theory than business in college, but I think it has finally come in handy beyond writing 40-page research papers. To quote German sociologist Georg Simmel, “The deepest problem of modern life flows from the attempt of the individual to maintain the independence and individuality of his existence against the sovereign power of society, against the weight of the historical heritage and the external culture and technique of life.” In modern life, tools like Parse.ly Dash can help both digital publishers and readers determine a little more certainty in quality content against an uncertain world that teases us into madness.
I’ve only been an intern at Parse.ly for three weeks—and I am learning and being humbled and challenged every day. Hopefully, in the coming weeks, you and I—we—can both use the blog to explore the world of Parse.ly, startups, and digital publishing.
—Noel Duan, Business Intern