Corporate Whorism + Wesleying = Wesleyan OTR

But it’s summer, so there’s less fun stuff to be read about colleges in general since it’s, you know, summer. Yet, they’ve unearthed thiiiiiiis: TheU’s O.T.R. blog metasite. As they describe it:

Right now the main O.T.R. page, compiling posts from every school, boasts a little bit of everything: YouTube, photoshop, celebrities, Lolcatz, alumni news, course listings, and a surprisingly harsh attack on Penn boys. It’s not entirely professional, but it’s definitely got potential.

Welcome one and all to Wesleyan’s new unofficial blog. I am the Cynical Romantic, this blog’s editor. I hope that this blog can function as a place to find out what Wesleyan alums are doing, learn about what’s going on around campus, read interesting commentary on current events, and learn random tidbits of information. I also hope it can coexist peacefully with Wesleyan’s many other student media outlets, offering information and content that isn’t available elsewhere. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.
– CR

With all due respect, Cynical Romantic, why don’t you smack my grammy and call me Sally, because that sounds awfully familiar?

TheU, never missing the opportunity to commodify the individual college experience into something with mass-market appeal, has sought to control the latest frontier in college culture–the blog. Funny how organically student-run things (*cough* facebook) get swept up in selling out. Makes me tear up a little, you know, in the general way a Sociology major would tear up when confronted with capitalism’s ugly nakedness.

It should be noted, of course, that Xue and I were offered $1,000 each to write for this OTR thing earlier this summer. So the writers are not without their financial incentive to churn out posts. But from the email we got from theU’s recruiter in June, it definitely seemed they preferred to create a collegiate gossip-rag blog, saying literally they wanted something like gawker or perezhilton. This really conflicted with what we were trying to create at Wesleying. So to be fair, what they were seeking out of us wasn’t something we were prepared to offer, so it does make sense that Wesleyan OTR would cover different ground.

So I don’t know. I haven’t completely written off its potential. But I’m not a fan of TheU’s practices thus far as a college marketing franchise (“$4,999 Scholarship for the Hottest Student!”) and thus my opinion of OTR is rather colored by my obviously dry, soviet ideology. It happens. (Though, I am pleased for the obvious blog fodder it offers.)

EDIT: Please read the comments where Xue and I continue the discussion we’ve been having back and forth for hours.

20 thoughts on “Corporate Whorism + Wesleying = Wesleyan OTR

  1. Doug Imbruce

    Hey everyone,Thanks so much for all the insight. I spent some time this morning exploring Wesleying, and it’s a fantastic blog — you already know this, but you’re very talented. As the Founder of O.T.R. (and theU.com), I wanted to write in a correct a few misconceptions about the project and address the claim we stole your slogan (we didn’t – it was created independently).First, the company has no affiliation with MTV — I started theU.com out of my dorm room at Columbia with a credit card, and yes, we’ve been successful — but it wasn’t easy! With a lot of hard work, theU.com has created content that has helped over 1,000,000 high school students figure out where to go to college (the scholarship content you describe is probably the least important, and most ridiculous, part of what we do). While theU.com and O.T.R. are for-profit concerns, as with all good media businesses, creating great content is our main focus — advertising and traffic are simply a by-product of doing great work, and necessary for the support of content creation efforts (although lighting cigars with $100 bills is always fun — j/k). Anyway, O.T.R. is very much a startup. I have invested a lot personally in the project, and the idea is not to force the college blog community to “sell out”, but instead create a platform that can support and encourage the next generation of student writers. If you look at the blogs, there aren’t even ads on them! While this will change, we always plan for any advertising to be non-intrusive and just help us pay the costs of supporting 250 campus blogs. Come on, folks, starting a college blog network is not a get-rich-quick scheme. That’s what our porn site is for! O.T.R. is largely about doing awesome work and HAVING FUN. So rest easy knowing that the “corporate overload” behind O.T.R. is only two years out of college, and the staff is entirely composed of currently enrolled college students (including our Managing Editor Lena Chen, who is a student blogger herself at sexandtheivy.com). Congrats on all of your success with Wesleying, and let me know if you’d like to talk about how we could help each other. Now I have to get back to eating babies and beating up poor people here in our corporate overload HQ.All the best,- Doug Imbruce (Columbia ’05) … doug(at)theU(dot)com

  2. Doug Imbruce

    Hey everyone,

    Thanks so much for all the insight. I spent some time this morning exploring Wesleying, and it’s a fantastic blog — you already know this, but you’re very talented.

    As the Founder of O.T.R. (and theU.com), I wanted to write in a correct a few misconceptions about the project and address the claim we stole your slogan (we didn’t – it was created independently).

    First, the company has no affiliation with MTV — I started theU.com out of my dorm room at Columbia with a credit card, and yes, we’ve been successful — but it wasn’t easy!

    With a lot of hard work, theU.com has created content that has helped over 1,000,000 high school students figure out where to go to college (the scholarship content you describe is probably the least important, and most ridiculous, part of what we do).

    While theU.com and O.T.R. are for-profit concerns, as with all good media businesses, creating great content is our main focus — advertising and traffic are simply a by-product of doing great work, and necessary for the support of content creation efforts (although lighting cigars with $100 bills is always fun — j/k).

    Anyway, O.T.R. is very much a startup. I have invested a lot personally in the project, and the idea is not to force the college blog community to “sell out”, but instead create a platform that can support and encourage the next generation of student writers. If you look at the blogs, there aren’t even ads on them! While this will change, we always plan for any advertising to be non-intrusive and just help us pay the costs of supporting 250 campus blogs.

    Come on, folks, starting a college blog network is not a get-rich-quick scheme. That’s what our porn site is for! O.T.R. is largely about doing awesome work and HAVING FUN.

    So rest easy knowing that the “corporate overload” behind O.T.R. is only two years out of college, and the staff is entirely composed of currently enrolled college students (including our Managing Editor Lena Chen, who is a student blogger herself at sexandtheivy.com).

    Congrats on all of your success with Wesleying, and let me know if you’d like to talk about how we could help each other.

    Now I have to get back to eating babies and beating up poor people here in our corporate overload HQ.

    All the best,
    – Doug Imbruce (Columbia ’05) … doug(at)theU(dot)com

  3. Anonymous

    Yeah, it’d be one thing for them to set out and write trash (like the ampersand!), but to say we’re an unoffical blog which is..say..exactly like wesleying but over here now is a little ridiculous.

  4. Anonymous

    Yeah, it’d be one thing for them to set out and write trash (like the ampersand!), but to say we’re an unoffical blog which is..say..exactly like wesleying but over here now is a little ridiculous.

  5. Anonymous

    I feel obligated to dislike OTR’s bloggers because you guys have worked so hard to establish a campus blog and are so open to others writing on it.

  6. Anonymous

    I feel obligated to dislike OTR’s bloggers because you guys have worked so hard to establish a campus blog and are so open to others writing on it.

  7. Holly

    I agree, they’re not mutually exclusive. But I’m really obviously not a big fan of any non-student-oriented oversight into wesleying and hence why that fear would carry over to that site as well.If the point was to create a student space online, I don’t like the idea of that student space being under some corporate banner. Google doesn’t give a shit about what we post because they’re not making money off our content.There’s something to be said about real autonomy that comes from controlling something from top to bottom and the vague promise of some autonomy that was offered by them.And theu is not a startup. It’s been around. For a while.

  8. Holly

    I agree, they’re not mutually exclusive. But I’m really obviously not a big fan of any non-student-oriented oversight into wesleying and hence why that fear would carry over to that site as well.

    If the point was to create a student space online, I don’t like the idea of that student space being under some corporate banner.

    Google doesn’t give a shit about what we post because they’re not making money off our content.

    There’s something to be said about real autonomy that comes from controlling something from top to bottom and the vague promise of some autonomy that was offered by them.

    And theu is not a startup. It’s been around. For a while.

  9. Ishuku

    At this point I’ve pretty much accepted that corporations are a necessary evil, but OTFR/theU strikes me more of a start-up. Does that make them less evil? Well, no, since it’s an offshoot of MTV and all. But it seems like OTFR especially has a good deal of autonomy.Anyways it looks like they’re trying to do…I don’t know. Good and not evil. Just making a few bucks while they’re at it. I’m assuming this is through ad revenue. I don’t really see how it can fragment the community, though; Wesleying and WesOTFR aren’t mutually exclusive, you know?It is worrying to me that we’re essentially trying to fill the same niche. However–If Wesleying dies, then OTFR will be, in effect, its legacy. We’ll have ultimately achieved what we set out to do, just under a different name…and corporate sponsorship *blegh*. Besides, weren’t we worried about what will happen to Wesleying after we graduate? OTFR has money and therefore stability. We have the audience. I’m not interested in “selling out”–I love Wesleying. But que sera sera. In any case, there’s nothing to be done until 1) they launch, 2) school starts again.

  10. Ishuku

    At this point I’ve pretty much accepted that corporations are a necessary evil, but OTFR/theU strikes me more of a start-up. Does that make them less evil? Well, no, since it’s an offshoot of MTV and all. But it seems like OTFR especially has a good deal of autonomy.

    Anyways it looks like they’re trying to do…I don’t know. Good and not evil. Just making a few bucks while they’re at it. I’m assuming this is through ad revenue. I don’t really see how it can fragment the community, though; Wesleying and WesOTFR aren’t mutually exclusive, you know?

    It is worrying to me that we’re essentially trying to fill the same niche. However–If Wesleying dies, then OTFR will be, in effect, its legacy. We’ll have ultimately achieved what we set out to do, just under a different name…and corporate sponsorship *blegh*. Besides, weren’t we worried about what will happen to Wesleying after we graduate? OTFR has money and therefore stability. We have the audience. I’m not interested in “selling out”–I love Wesleying. But que sera sera. In any case, there’s nothing to be done until 1) they launch, 2) school starts again.

  11. Holly

    I mean, we love student blogs. And we’re really not that territorial. God knows how many times we’ve said “If you don’t like it, make your own.” But still, it’s offputting in an ineffable way to see someone basically take our business model and place it under the umbrella of a corporate metasite, no matter who they are. It belittles what we’ve tried to make happen on our own. It kinda gives the finger to all that community we were trying to build, if that makes sense.And from what I can gather from the site (not the wes bloggers yet anyway), the push is to sell empty, easy fluff like collegehumor.Sigh. I hope that the bloggers churn out good stuff. But I don’t like it being under the corporate banner.

  12. Holly

    I mean, we love student blogs. And we’re really not that territorial. God knows how many times we’ve said “If you don’t like it, make your own.” But still, it’s offputting in an ineffable way to see someone basically take our business model and place it under the umbrella of a corporate metasite, no matter who they are. It belittles what we’ve tried to make happen on our own. It kinda gives the finger to all that community we were trying to build, if that makes sense.

    And from what I can gather from the site (not the wes bloggers yet anyway), the push is to sell empty, easy fluff like collegehumor.

    Sigh. I hope that the bloggers churn out good stuff. But I don’t like it being under the corporate banner.

  13. Ishuku

    Okay, I just wanted to comment about this really quick:I am not exactly the kinder, gentler admin, but I’m not nearly as bitter. I told some friends about it and at first didn’t even understand why they got angry. My gut reaction was a genuine “Oh! More Wesleyan student blogs! Cool!” And then forwarded the e-mail to some people who I thought might be interested. (One of whom, apparently, ended up signing on.)Maybe it makes me naive, I don’t know. But I think it would be nice to have a working relationship. I’m a little sketched out that they’re getting money, but I’m a big fan of web2.0 and a blog is a blog is a blog.

  14. Ishuku

    Okay, I just wanted to comment about this really quick:

    I am not exactly the kinder, gentler admin, but I’m not nearly as bitter. I told some friends about it and at first didn’t even understand why they got angry. My gut reaction was a genuine “Oh! More Wesleyan student blogs! Cool!” And then forwarded the e-mail to some people who I thought might be interested. (One of whom, apparently, ended up signing on.)

    Maybe it makes me naive, I don’t know. But I think it would be nice to have a working relationship. I’m a little sketched out that they’re getting money, but I’m a big fan of web2.0 and a blog is a blog is a blog.

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