"We hear the Web 2.0 drumbeat," said Virginia Hines, VP-general manager of IDG's Infoworld.com. "When you're in the media business, though, you not only have to grasp a concept, you have to be able to execute it. So we see Web 2.0 as a confluence of technology, audience awareness of how to use the technology and the willingness of the media to adopt new storytelling methods."
One example of a new enabling technology, Hines said, is Ajax or dynamic HTML, which allows parts of a Web page to be updated without having to reload all of it.
"We're using Ajax in a wide variety of ways," Hines said. "Since June, we have a feature area on our home page that scrolls through three story starts instead of one, and we now have drop-down menus on our navigation bar that allow us to expose five times as much content."
InfoWorld.com also recently launched a FaceBook-type product called IT Exec-Connect. It is a free service that allows registered members to search for and meet other IT executives, schedule meetings and "grow your network of industry contacts." The networking platform, which went public in May, has 7,500 registered members, Hines said.
Jeff DeBalko, who heads the Reed Business Interactive division of Reed Business U.S., said Web 2.0 is about changing information consumption habits of audiences and giving online publishers a new role. "We are rapidly moving from a time when a trusted brand meant the sole, authoritative source of information to a time when a trusted brand means the preferred resource for providing a comprehensive perspective on a given topic," he said.
"We are not simply embracing this transformation, we are making it core to our strategy," DeBalko explained. "Across the portfolio of RBI today, you will find alternative voices via blogs, agnostic content through aggregation of third-party information-even from competitors-user-generated content and alternative methods of content delivery."
"The definition of Web 2.0 has changed over time," said Jim Louderback, editorial director of the consumer/small business group at Ziff Davis Media and editor in chief of PC Magazine. "First, it was about the technologies that made Web pages stateless [such as Ajax]. Then, it came to be more about user-generated content and two-way interaction between the Web publisher and the readers."
"User-generated content has been around the Internet forever," Louderback said. "What's new is that the reader is being elevated. Community is now center stage." While Ziff is rearchitecting many of its sites, it isn't at the Web 2.0 level yet, he said, because "the fourth-quarter holiday buying season for PCMag.com is not a time to challenge users with new offerings."
"We'll be rolling out those features incrementally over the course of 2007," said Louderback, adding that personalization will be an important initiative. "We'll allow members to create personalized `gear' pages where they can show off the gear they have and how they use it."
Alec Dann, general manager, magazines online, for Hanley Wood Business Media, joined the company in September. One Web 2.0 technology he plans to employ immediately is blogs. Also, on the newly launched Architect site, Hanley Wood will be encouraging users to provide content. "We're letting architects submit projects, and we will have mechanisms that will allow their peers to comment on them," he said, adding that users will have to register before they can contribute to the conversation.
Several Web 2.0 projects are under development at Prism Business Media, according to Prescott Shibles, VP-online development. Although he was reluctant to say much before the launches, planned for early next year, he described one as "a hybrid between YouTube (video sharing) and LinkedIn (social and business networking)."
By the middle of 2007, Prism will start to employ a new content management platform based on Web 2.0 technology. "There's a difference in architecture between a site built with publishing in mind and one that's developed for networking, collaboration and other social activities along with publishing," Shibles said. "We're targeting the middle of next year to start rolling out sites on the platform."
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