Posts Tagged ‘Business Exchange’

Bloggers React: In Defense of the Business Exchange

August 20, 2008

After the New York Times article came out announcing the immanent release of BusinessWeek’s Business Exchange Web site, the blogosphere lit up with various comments and criticisms of our project.

I want to address some of the criticisms that seemed unfair or too cynical. Tish Grier of the Constant Observer worries that this project is all a ploy to herd online readers into veal pens where they can be served hyper-targeted ads. “It does leave me feeling a bit like a goose being prepared for foie gras–like I’m going to be herded into the right stall so that I can then be force-fed the right kind of ads that will make me click,” writes Tish.

In a post on his blog, Web guru Tim O’Reilly says the Business Exchange may be part of a new trend linking to yourself on the Web that may be akin to a tax on the utility of the Web.

Says Tim: “When this trend spreads (and I say “when”, not “if”), this will be a tax on the utility of the web that must be counterbalanced by the utility of the intervening pages. If they are really good, with lots of useful, curated data that you wouldn’t easily find elsewhere, this may be an acceptable tax. In fact, they may even be beneficial, and a real way to increase the value of the site to its readers. If they are purely designed to capture additional clicks, they will be a degradation of the web’s fundamental currency, much like the black hat search engine pages that construct link farms out of search engine results.”

If I saw Tim and Tish I would tell them: The whole idea of the Business Exchange is to create lots of topic pages that are brimming over with curated content that you couldn’t find elsewhere–or don’t have the time to track down.

Case in point: The other day I was checking out the topic on social networking, skimming through the posted links to see what people were interested in. Lo and behold, I was pleasantly surprised to see a link to a Los Angeles Times profile of Reid Hoffman. It was a really good story and I felt better having read it. And I probably would have never stumbled across it had I not visited the Business Exchange.

To counter-balance the tendency to link only to yourself, Tim recommends two guidelines:

1. Ensure that no more than 50% of the links on any page are to yourself. (Even this number may be too high.)

2. Ensure that the pages you create at those destinations are truly more valuable to your readers than any other external link you might provide.

I think these are good ideas. My sense of things now is that way more than 50% of the links on the Business Exchange are connecting readers to non-BusinessWeek content. So I think we’re covered on that point. As to his second point, our hope and goal is to create topic pages that are more valuable than any single external link because the pages will provide one go-to place where you can quickly and easily tap into the best thinking on any one subject. If we do that–and we need your help to do it–the Business Exchange will be a big value-add to the Web community.

That’s my defense. And don’t forget: There’s the potential for an incredible network effect here. The more people that join and post, the more valuable the site will become. So I hope you check it out and help build the community.


Big Bet: BusinessWeek To Launch Business Exchange

August 18, 2008

Over the last year, I’ve been part of a team of people working on a top secret project at BusinessWeek. It’s called the Business Exchange and it’s the company’s biggest bet to date in the new media space. Today, the New York Times wrote a story about the site, which will launch in September. So I am free to talk about it now in public.

The idea is to create a sort of social network-cum aggregation site for the business world. The organizing principle of the site is topics–hundreds and probably thousands of them. Here’s how it works: Anyone can post a link to a story or blog post or video, whatever content you want from whatever source, and it will appear on the topic page. If the concept takes off, the site will really tap into the wisdom of the Web crowd, providing a powerful filter that will help people stay on top of their most important issues and discover new ideas and information.

All of the editorial employees of BusinessWeek have been asked to curate one topic so we can help cultivate the content and keep it fresh and relevant. I’ve been focusing on venture capital and social networking. But there are hundreds of others you can pick and choose from, including everything from biofuels to the Beijing Olympics. This is the Long Tail of Business content writ large.

I think the site has a lot of potential. But I’m really curious what other folks think about it. So please post your thoughts about the Business Exchange now and after it launches. As with most other Web projects, the Business Exchange is a work in progress.

Says Richard Perez-Pena:

“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. (The first one created, which may or may not be in the public version of Business Exchange, was “BlackBerry vs iPhone.”)

A few other magazines and newspapers have also become serious about building verticals, but they tend to jealously guard control of their online audiences and content. Not this one.

Each Business Exchange topic page links to articles and blog posts from myriad other sources, including BusinessWeek’s competitors, with the contents updated automatically by a Web crawler. Nearly all traditional news organizations offer only their own material, spurning the role of aggregator as an invitation to readers to leave their sites.

On Business Exchange, a user can post new material to a topic page, or even create a new page, choosing the subject and the title, and write a brief introductory description. This is hardly a revolutionary idea in the wiki era, but for a mainstream publication, it represents a significant loosening of control. (But not too loose — new topics require editorial approval, promised within 24 hours, and objectionable posts will be taken down.)”

Click here to read the rest of the story.