Thursday, February 13, 2003

The Blogging of Business
Fortune's David Kirkpatrick wrote this week about the new AlwaysOn insiders' network for "chiefs, geeks, investors, boosters and wonks." Created by Upside and Red Herring founder Tony Perkins, AlwaysOn is billed as a "spontaneous and uncensored arena" in which members can share their business experience, ideas, and insight.

Ostensibly combining business reportage and blogging, AlwaysOn strikes me instead as a business news service with comment and discussion tools. Organizing material in more than 10 categories, including the Always On Generation, Real-Time Economy, and the tumble-weed town of the Underground Web (perhaps indicating the site creators' limited knowledge of independent net culture), the site is currently relatively quiet, despite a growing membership roster. While Perkins' 10 commandments are praise-worthy, I'm not convinced the service, albeit young, deserves Kirkpatrick's praise and hype.

Instead of representing the "Ebay-ization of media," AlwaysOn strikes me as a business-oriented Electric Minds as it was at launch. There's site manager-created content -- and member commentary and discussion. That discussion is bolstered by a robust membership directory, complete with contact information, which will further member interaction off site. But Perkins' use of the word "blog" is worrisome. Perkins calls the site's editorial entries "blogs." He also calls member comments and discussion posts blogs. But as newsworthy as blogs have been and will be, AlwaysOn includes extremely limited self-authoring tools. I cannot find a way to add my own entry, much less a dedicated personal blogging space.

In the end, if all we're doing is responding to what others have published or written, the success of something like AlwaysOn will rest squarely on two things: the value of its staff's editorial content -- and the personalities and participation of the people reading that content.

But is AlwaysOn blogging? I'm not so sure.

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