You may be getting sick of '2.0' being stuck onto the end of everything, but I can't resist pointing to this excellent post by VC Fred Wilson. He characterises the mid-to-late 90's era of Web content creation companies like About.com (ex-The Mining Company), Geocities and Tripod as "blogging 1.0". The likes of Denton's Gawker, Calacanis' Weblogs Inc and Boyd's Corante are "blogging 2.0". They are the next generation of what the About.com's of the 90's represented - personal, 'amateur' topic-focused content.
Fred tells a nice little anecdote of venture capitalism in the 90's (I'm currently reading Po Bronson's Nudist on the late shift, about Silicon Valley in that era, so I'm in that frame of mind already...). Fred writes:
"In early 1997, a couple months after we invested in Geocities, Scott Kurnit walked into our office with a plan to start a business called The Mining Company. It was Geocities and Tripod with a different twist. Instead of hosting free web sites, Scott was going to recruit people (now called bloggers) to create web content using a platform similar to what Geocities and Tripod had built. But Scott's model was a more traditional media model in the sense that he would pick the content creators instead of inviting everyone to create content on his site."
So now we're in 2005 and we have blogging 2.0, which Fred sees as different to 1.0 in 4 ways: posts, permalinks, RSS, and "CPC and contextual ad networks". He also talks about "a media model around the Blogging 2.0 platform".
Jeff Jarvis wrote about a similar thing in another post. He said that "if you were starting About.com today, you wouldn't create a centralized marketplace of cheap content." He prefers the decentralization model. The comments to that were very interesting, with some support for the About.com model. Anil Dash compared About.com to weblogsinc and gawker (this was perhaps the inspiration for Fred's post?). Jason Calacanis agreed with Anil in Jeff's comments, saying that "Gawker and WIN are next generation About.com's to a certain extent."
Interestingly, an About.com employee also left a comment on Jeff's blog. I have to say, it sounds a wee bit sniffy about blogs:
"I've been active with About.com for over five years now. Our activities as guides have changed dramatically over the years. Nowadays we are following much a of blog-like model, but there's a lot of structure in the way we write. We also host databases of links to complement the blog-like centerpiece.
It can be a lot more than the stream-of-consciousness that many blogs are today. I've positioned my site as a resource for seasoned business professionals seeking to better understand the business of biotechnology and entrepreneurial scientists seeking to commercialize their ideas and inventions.
I find the prospect of working for the NYT very compelling. If the sale goes through, I'd be eager to hear what changes it would bring to my site."
RM says: Believe it or not, some of us bloggers are serious about our writing too. Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Online Diary Land any more.