Users will spend 250,000 provided "PopSci Dollars" to buy shares in something called FutureStocks, which are essentially questions such as, "Will Apple's personal-computer market share reach 10% by the end of 2007?" And if you think the answer is "no," you can short the stock. Players with the most PopSci Dollars will be featured on a leaderboard and be eligible for prizes.
Prediction markets have proved decent indicators of the future, harnessing both the wisdom of crowds and the self-interest of capitalism. But the added benefit for Popular Science is online content that it can use in the print edition; in this case, the magazine will devote its back page to reports on the Predictions Exchange.
Questions based on articles
"We're going to have a variety of propositions based on articles that we have in the magazine," said Editor Mark Jannot, the PopSci-Dollar leader in the in-house beta test. "We're trying to take people from the magazine to our online content and then from our online content back to the magazine."
Publisher Gregg Hano said the exchange could help with ad sales, too. "We really believe this is going to drive a ton of new uniques and page views for PopSci.com," he said. And because the print coverage of the exchange will appear on the magazine's back page, the opposite inside cover may become more appealing to financial, corporate-image and other advertising.
Time Inc. sold Popular Science to the Bonnier Corp. early this year. The exchange concept was developed under Time Inc. but approved, developed and launched under Bonnier.