Network: The more `Star Trek' it is, the happier I am

My Technology Danny Kelly made newsprint dance as editor of `Q' and `NME'. Now he's stepped into the ether to see if he can do the same thing with the Net
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FOOTBALL365 is not just a Web site. We deliver an all-singing, all-dancing, free product. It's amazing.

I have had a long career in journalism, from British Magazine Editor of the Year to Editor of Q and NME. An emperor of modern publishing. And I am one of three who set up Direct Network Publishing for the sole purpose of providing new, original and specially tailored content for the Internet.

This is the very first company, apart from the bedroom Web site makers, bless 'em, to do this. Cricket365 is going online, and, over the next two weeks, music and money sites will be launched.

I am in charge of editorial polices and direction. As the publishing director, I set up the team and try and get as involved as possible to ensure top-class journalism that is funny, informed and opinionated. With the Internet, up to now, a lot could have just been what was available in print smeared on to the Net. It is not enough to put existing magazines or papers on the Net. Visually at least, it is important to realise the difference. We thought of the first generation who had grown up comfortable with the Internet and we created the site with them in mind.

The Internet brings its own problems, but these are outweighed by advantages, touch wood. The people we looked to to help us on the technical side were young, on the cutting edge. Denovo and IMN have reputations as technological solution companies. But mostly it felt right because they are groovy blokes (and girls).

Our innovations are threefold. With our news gallery, instead of just conventional PR feeds, we also use intelligent agents to go out into the world and gather football news. This ensures a degree of autonomy.

We have also established a system which allows us to turn over thousands of words every day without any of us knowing HTML. The publishing system we have developed means that you can write on the word processor or whatever and it is put into Internet language double-quick. The most important content element is interactive. We have thousands of reader contributions. And then there is our extraordinary coverage of the World Cup: the history of the World Cup; the nations involved; the different group players; the picture galleries that are changed daily; the discussion groups, columnists, diaries ... it really is a huge undertaking.

This much quality content entirely for the Internet is fairly unique. So far the site has been very successful with both advertisers and users. There are other marvellous sites which have done similar things, but these tend to be focused on art or science. It's not a competition, we could all happily co-exist. After all, that is the ether that is the Internet.

We are looking at all times to develop the brand without losing the fact that we are an independent publishing company. It is very difficult for a new company to establish itself. But with five people working on design, we are determined to do it properly. Not half-arsed.

I didn't know a thing about the Internet before. When I was first shown the Net, I laughed, thinking it was like CB radio for the Nineties. Now I realise it is the greatest storage and retrieval system.

I became aware of how it has changed the way of communication. So, when asked to get involved, I jumped at the idea. At the very least, in the next couple of years other media will be converging towards somewhere between digital and magazine, so why not be ahead of the game?

The Internet is more inflexible at this stage than a magazine. It takes longer, which is bizarre considering that it is electronic. And how publishers deal with the avalanche of material on the Internet determines whether they succeed or fail. There are no more problems than you would expect. But I would be a liar if I said it was plain sailing. Each new question about the technology takes two more solutions to answer. It's an effort of the mind to continue. It's a commitment that is easy to give up on. The Internet is a hydra of problems, and you have to keep lopping off the heads.

I love technology. But, unlike your typical man, I don't know anything about it. I simply love the idea that the Internet could come out of a toaster in a couple of years. The more Star Trek it is, the happier I am.

Football365: http://www. football365.com

Danny Kelly was talking to Jennifer Rodger

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