MEDIA

Savvy Auntie, Unsavvy Arrington

07/18/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

This little bundle of cuteness is my friend Jen's baby, Tyler. He's four months old and the first time I met him I agonized over what to get him as a present. What's the rule on buying a size six months up again? Can you dress baby boys in pink, because pink stuff is really cute? If an oversize styrofoam fish from the mini-mart says "Ages 5 and up" can I buy it for his 3-year-old brother and pretend I didn't know any better? What about giraffes, do kids like giraffes?

These are the kinds of questions I have whenever it's time to buy presents for kids — what's age-appropriate, what's fun, what will make my harried friends' life better. So it's a wonder it took so long for a site like SavvyAuntie to come along. While the name may not roll off the tongue, it's a natural for a very large chunk of the population, with disposable income, working ovaries and friends who won't stop having babies.

SavvyAuntie calls them PANKs — Professional Aunts, No Kids — a hook savvy enough to catch TechCrunch writer Calley Nye, who wrote yesterday:

Women account for 80% of the economy. Mothers spend about $1.7 trillion dollars on consumer products each year. But that's only about 50% of women. What about the other 50%?

SavvyAuntie is a site geared toward the other 50% of women who don't have kids, but know some...These women typically spend money on children in some way or another, but where do they turn to learn what to buy? SavvyAuntie is basically a parenting site for non-parents.

TechCrunch's write-up was excellent, with writer Calley Nye praising SA founder Melanie Notkin for her marketing "genius" and explaining why the site was model of start-up success ("There hasn't been a resource like this before. That's what drives startups: find a problem and come up with a
solution.") It's the kind of write-up that makes TechCrunch a can't-miss resource for the Web 2.0 crew. Only one problem: It's gone.

Here's the link to the post, published yesterday morning. It was picked up and excerpted by Kate Olson at This Mommy Gig, along with a write-up from Mashable. It was also republished via the Washington Post here.

So why woud TechCrunch pull it? Founder Michael Arrington didn't return an email yesterday requesting comment, so one can only speculate. Was it because Mashable posted something too? Arrington puts a well-known premium on exclusives, but that could hardly have been expected in this case, since Notkin blogged about it the night before launch, and Twittered it, and Facebooked it (she's also savvy as a savvy social networker). TechCrunch was first, however, which counts for a lot online. Upshot: There was nothing controversial about the write-up that we could tell — but anyway, it was republished in full via the WaPo syndication deal, so that makes no sense, either.

Whatever his reasons, though, Arrington should have known better. Never mind that unpublishing stuff is nigh-impossible online — insert fist-shake at Google cache here — but a site like TechCrunch mainlines into thousands of RSS feeds, and is near-instantly reviewed, repurposed and reblogged. This case is a textbook example of that — the post may have been pulled, but it lived on in Google alerts, other blogs, and in the newsfeeds of Notkin's 536 Facebook friends (of which Arrington is one). Never mind the whole WaPo thing.

But also, post-pulling is especially inopportune recently, given the controversy over Boing Boing's recent purging of all posts by sex blogger Violet Blue (and, indeed, references to Violet Blue). That expungment (expungitude? expungism?) was a big deal, causing much new-media head-scratching over online permanence, the rights of bloggers to be archived, and issues of transparency and accountability to readers. (Even the MSM got involved, so you know it was a big deal.)

This obviously doesn't rise to that level of controversy, but it's still odd, and at odds with the realities of the internet, which presumably Arrington should know all about. If it was pulled just because Mashable or another site wrote about it, well, that's just petty; if it was pulled for some darker reason then it was also stupid, because the evidence is wide-open and as Google-able as can be. Either way, it means he got punk'd by a PANK.

Dot-connecting disclosure: I heard about SavvyAuntie via my friends Morty White and Eric Kuhn, both of whom are HuffPo contributors and both of whom know Notkin. Eric wrote up an interview with Notkin yesterday and it was published today. I subsequently learned of the TechCrunch snafu, and went from there. Savvy blogger!

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