6/21/2005

Anointed

Information is plentiful. Attention is scarce. That’s why FM Network – the startup announced by John Battelle and funded by web and media luminaries – is destined to lead the new cohort of content creators wherever they may be going. FM Network is short for “federated media,” according to Paid Content, where I first noticed John’s newest venture. He is, of course, well-known in technology and media circles, particularly in the San Francisco area, where his biography on the UC Berkeley J-school website notes his founding roles at Wired, the Industry Standard, etcetera. John recently announced that he had angel funding (money given under less onerous terms than is provided by venture, or as is sometimes joked, vulture capitalists). And what a choir of angels indeed! In his own words: “I'm proud to announce that FM has . . . an extraordinary lineup of investors. Omidyar Network led the round, with The New York Times Company and Mitchell Kapor, Andrew Anker, Mike Homer, and Tim O'Reilly also participating.” The Times needs no introduction. Omidyar Net is the for-profit, non-profit foundation of eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. The other investors are movers and shakers. They provide more than cash. They bring credibility. Paid Content reports that “Battelle hopes to launch FM with 10-20 tech-related blogs including Boing Boing and his own SearchBlog and that he is only inviting "high-quality, high-authority" blogs into the network. He's not trying to launch blogs but looking for established authors. The relationship won't be exclusive and bloggers will retain their own IP -- and, I would guess, liabilities.” It sounds like John intends to aggregate like sorts of content in one place, hoping to draw traffic on the strength of his reputation and following, and to compound that with the reputations and followings of the federated blogs. This strikes me as the virtual-world expression of the Media Mall concept I blogged about recently, though I was talking then more of local (i.e. geographic) communities than of location-independent communities of interest such as technology. Given that FM will exist online, its user interface – the opening page that greets visitors – will be crucial to its function. I look forward to seeing how FM will provide one door thru which to enter 10 or 20 sites (without pissing off the site that feels it has the worst location); and whether it will add value on top of this mix of content – for instance, a look down into what the Federation members are saying. Much of this will be new, exciting and frustrating to the participants, and instructive to onlookers. Good luck! (I had wanted to say more about similar (and not) efforts, from Nick Denton, Jason Calacanis, Tom Foremski, Corante, Pajamas Media, and 9rules, to mention a few, but the baby woke up crying this morning, and now she’s on my lap crying for attention – as are we all!) Tom Abate MiniMediaGuy Cause if you ain't Mass Media, you're Mini Media

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