During the AlwaysOn Network’s OnHollywood 2006 conference in May, media entrepreneur Tony Perkins noted that 62% of online content viewed by 21-year-olds is generated by someone they know. Perhaps, this trend is what has caused Perkins to turn his network into a MySpace like content publishing and sharing platform where users can participate not just as readers, but as writers. As a matter of fact, Perkins has reached beyond his original technology readership to try to embrace a bigger demographic, and rebranded his network as GoingOn. [They have huge kinks in the software at the moment, but hopefully this will get sorted out.]
On the other hand, solo bloggers Michael Arrington, Om Malik, and Rafat Ali have raised venture capital, expanded their shops, hired a few people, and have started scaling their media properties to shoot up to the top of online media lists.
All of them, however, have fundamental business questions to ponder. Business Week’s issue is survival. The bloggers’ issue is scaling.
Perkins, perhaps, has the most important experiment under way, that all of them need to watch and learn from: how deeply should they embrace social media and user-generated content? If BusinessWeek, WSJ, NYT, Om, Michael, Rafat could each roll-out their own user-generated content networks such as GoingOn, that may well be one way to scale efficiently and profitably.
If Perkins’ experiment works, it will, potentially, create a viable model for the entire media industry to organize itself, reinvent, and survive. It is not a slam-dunk, the biggest challenge being the ability to balance quality versus quantity.
Nonetheless, this is a worthwhile experiment, and Business Week should also try it!