Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Federated Media Debuts a (**GASP!!**) Technology News Portal Based on Weblogs

Perhaps I am getting a little jaded in the middle of a busy week but I have to yawn just a little bit when I encounter Federated Media's new Tech portal. With folks like Rafat Ali at having been out there for years proving the value of weblogs as destination news sites for tech and media audiences why should we turn our heads that far for a fairly humdrum aggregation of weblogs? It's done nicely enough, and I have a great deal of respect for John Battelle's efforts to redefine how media properties can be assembled, but at the end of the day the net result is not that much different from a CNET News - except that it lacks much of a typical news portal's sophistication in terms of editorial control, ad placement, taxonomies, search tools and other convenient features. Why oh why do people seem to think again and again that simple aggregation of proprietary content is the cat's pajamas?

John has proven his point easily enough - yes, you can create a media portal property built entirely out of weblog-driven content - but the acquisition of major weblog networks by Yahoo and AOL while Battelle has been heads-down on introducing Federated Media has made the debut of this portal rather moot. Weblogs can be aggregated anywhere by anyone, with their highest value being assigned in context to related materials that could come from a wide variety of sources. Building a portal out of a finite set of weblogs only replicates the same set of issues that most publishers struggling to own their destinies online have to wrestle to the ground every day. As long as the quality of the content provided by FM Publishing's contributors remains high it is likely to have some moderate degree of success, but for those who were expecting an earth-shaking debut of Silicon Valley's answer to Madison Avenue please move along; there's nothing to see here.
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