Leading thinkers guide CMP’s Internet Evolution

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The audacious goal of CMP’s Internet Evolution Web site “is to gauge [the Internet’s] likely impact on every aspect of life as we know it,” according to its “about us” description.

Internet Evolution, which debuted Oct. 1, is one of the first creations of Steve Saunders, a co-founder of Light Reading, as an independent consultant. CMP purchased Light Reading—a profitable integrated b-to-b media brand—in 2005, and Saunders stayed on the CMP payroll until this past February.

“Our focus is on decision-makers within large IT organizations,” Saunders said. Yet the scope of the content within Internet Evolution will be broad, from business topics such as the future of telecom services and deep-packet inspection filters to sociological trends such as the Internet’s potential role in the environment and the developing world.

CMP is taking a three-pronged approach in creating content for the site. First, using the traditional editorial formula, CMP writers and professional freelancers will produce a series of “detailed reports on weighty topics based upon research, analysis and investigative journalistic techniques,” Saunders said.

Second, CMP has tapped into the knowledge and contacts of editors throughout the company to identify and assemble Internet Evolution’s ThinkerNet, a group of leaders from many disciplines who have agreed to write blogs for the site. By launch date, ThinkerNet had 60 committed bloggers; two days later, it was up to 65. Saunders expects to have 100 or more by year’s end.

Among the ThinkerNet participants are the CIOs of Boeing Co. and General Motors Corp.; the creators of Craig’s List and Second Life; the inventor of the Domain Name System; and experts in virtualization software and online advertising, as well as many influential authors, speakers, professors, venture capitalists and activists.

Site Editor James Johnson, who was a senior editor at Success Magazine before it folded in July FYI, is the only full-time staffer AT Internet Evolution, but Saunders said ThinkerNet will act as Johnson’s virtual editorial staff. As for himself, Saunders will create his own daily blog—in written or video form—and his ongoing role will include advising CMP on the marketing and overall vision of the site, he said.

The third content element will be created when the professional writers, ThinkerNet experts and the audience communicate among themselves through a host of Web 2.0 tools—including comments, forums, bookmarking, ranking, personalized user pages and a “find a friend” feature that uses algorithms to connect community members with similar interests.

Saunders emphasized, however, that Internet Evolution won’t become a user-generated free-for-all like YouTube or MySpace. “We’re going to moderate discussions and look at every blog post before it goes on the site,” he said.

For its first six months, Internet Evolution will be sponsored solely by IBM Corp. Saunders declined to predict how the site would be monetized after the agreement with IBM expires.

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