I have written about social reading before, yet I forgot to mention Digg:
But shortly before the deal closed, the Washington Post decided it didn’t want the Digg website itself. “The brand name had gotten toxic,” says Andrew McLaughlin, the man who became Digg’s new CEO. “It was seen as a failed site with a lot of scummy behavior, a lot of gaming of the Digg button. The Post didn’t want it.”
One company that did want the name was Betaworks, a New York firm in which McLaughlin is a partner. The company, which has given birth to hits such as Tweetdeck, Chartbeat, and Bitly, offered $500,000 for the Digg name and website. Digg’s investors might have gotten more money if they’d auctioned the domain off to a content mill. However, McLaughlin says, “we made an emotional appeal that we would build something cool that they would be proud of.”
Betaworks is a interesting concept too:
The Betaworks analogy between the web and the movie industry is apt. At the dawn of the 20th century, most of the excitement came from technological and business innovations — people were still figuring out what moving pictures could do and how to make money selling them. But by the 1930s, the feature-length motion picture was well-established. Innovation became more artistic than technological — people had figured out how to capture and distribute moving images, but they were still learning how to use that medium to tell stories effectively.
Today the web is going through a similar transition. The technology and business model of the web has become well understood. Anyone can use cloud computing services and ad networks to create websites and make money from them. The hard part today is figuring out how to use these tools to create websites people want to read. That’s about good design and good editorial decisions more than about technology.