One of my key rules for keeping this blog credible is to avoid the tendency to re-post stories without reading them or to write about new services without trying them. That means I’ll output fewer stories per week, but hopefully you’ll find the content richer and more meaningful.
Thus, when McGraw-Hill launched BusinessExchange a while back I was eager to blog about it, but I needed to get some real hands-on time first.
Why was I eager? I’m interested in BusinessExchange several reasons:
- I’ve always been a fan of BusinessWeek, which I started reading in business school and have read continuously since then. (Well over a decade for those who count such things.)
- BusinessExchange represents a big step (in fact, about as big a step as I can think of) by a major, traditional media player to re-invent itself in an Internet / Web 2.0 world.
- The site is MarkLogic-based, I know the head of the team who built it, and I know it was built using agile methodologies.
With advertising revenue sliding, publications try a lot of things online to get noticed, like — pardon the jargon — verticals, aggregation, user-generated content, popularity rankings and even something resembling social networks.
BusinessWeek magazine is about to introduce a site that combines some elements of all of the above in ways intended to capture new readers and funnel them into niches that will attract advertisers.
The site, called Business Exchange, is one approach to the fast-evolving digital world, where some news sites that experiment have rapidly expanded their audiences while those that do little more than post articles online have been left in the dust. After two years of quiet development, it will go public in late September, accessible through BusinessWeek’s own Web site (www.businessweek.com).
The core of Business Exchange is hundreds of topic pages, on subjects as broad as the housing market and as narrow as the Boeing 787. Plans call for the number of topic pages to grow quickly into the thousands.
I’ve been using BusinessExchange for a while now and was happy to learn last week that, based on my activity, they planned to make the “featured user” next Tuesday. What I didn’t know was how prominently that would feature on the BusinessWeek homepage, and it hadn’t also dawned on me “what else” was happening on that day.
As you can see, I’m most active in the topic of “venture capital” though I’m also pretty active in “information technology,” “business blogging,” and “public relations.” Things I like about the site include:
- The ability to share stories from any source, BusinessWeek or not
- The automatic ability it has to parse some stories, with a title and summary
- The ability to save stories I find of interest
- The ability to connect with / network to some pretty influential people — not the least of which include many of BusinessWeek’s senior editors and correspondents, including Stephen Baker who I met a few times many years ago when I was at Business Objects in Paris
- The ability to find and read stories that have effectively been pre-selected by those in my network, essentially a form of collaborative filtering around news
- The business context
Aside: one of my theories is that social networks will fragment around interest areas and that people will seek to avoid “collisions” where (to use my favorite example) someone wants a 0% probability of their (LinkedIn, Spock, SlideShare) profiles intersecting with their (Facebook, MySpace, Classmates, Flickr) profiles interesecting with their (AdultFriendFinder, Match, Fling) profiles. Thus, collision avoidance will balance against the desire to minimize the number of social network profiles into some equilibrium where your number of active social networks = your number of deliberately unlinked social contexts.
So, if you’ve not tried BusinessExchange, I would give it try. My profile is here. The homepage is here. Come be an early user of in transition of mainstream business media.