April 30, 2004

Revisiting Virtual Communities

This panel just finished, and here are a few noteworthy remarks:

Susan Mernit was live blogging from the panel, during the panel. Markos Moulitsas (Kos), Craig Newmark (there is a new documentary about craigslist called "24 hours on craigslist.org" and Fortune just did a story on them) and Mark Pincus of Tribe.

Mernit: Tools and technology adoption are key to what's happening with people and technology. Online communities are about people and people in turn drive technology development to support themselves and their communities.

Newmark: We've collectively managed to reach a few million people between social networks, blogs etc. but how do you get past that echo chamber.... When you grow up as a nerd, you learn what it feels like to feel left out, and when you gow up, you think about it and figure out how to include people, which is what craigslist is working on now.

Pincus: All leads aren't the same -- just like search results were too much on alta vista in the beginning, as we deal with each other now on social networking sites, we need filters and ways to qualify information so that we get better info. We also choose to expose ourselves to each other and we want to get good things back, not bad. The network is the database -- tell the network who we are and then automagically, the network will help us find a group that we could be a part of... the genesis of tribe was political - though I have no interest in public interest job. The process is the platform.

Kos: There is no fair and balanced media -- I think everyone has bias and it seeps into coverage. Fox has viewers for a reason, ABC, NBC and CBS are boring -- and newspapers lose readers for a reason, but newspapers in England are a lot more lively.

Pincus: Google has proven that if you put things in context, and clearly identify things people like it. They did tests, and people said they liked craigslist because it had no ads, but actually it's all ads, but the ads are content and they are where people expect the ads to be. If I see an ad before a movie, I'm annoyed, but I want to see them in the right categories on craigslist. We are in an age of "utility media" that moves away from "entertainment media", where it's like a free cab ride in Mexico to the time share, but then you have to listen to this ad.... Craig has proven that it's sustainable, Tribe hasn't proven it yet, but there is no reason to have it be an adversarial relationship.

Posted by Mary Hodder at April 30, 2004 10:35 AM | TrackBack

I thought that the journalists missed the point in one essential respect. They asked, is anybody making money aggregating content? They answered, no.

Nobody brought up Google, Amazon, Ebay, and Craig's list as companies that have very successful business models based on aggregating content that users furnish.

I told one journalist about this and he said, "but that isn't journalism".

It isn't, but those are the companies and the business model that is competing with journalism for advertisers and readers' attention.

How is journalism going to compete?

Posted by: Tim at April 30, 2004 01:24 PM