Fast Company’s Social Experiment 3

By Kyle Austin

Like everyone else, I’ve been full absorbed in the Microsoft bid for Yahoo! over the last two weeks and I haven’t had time to discuss a truly innovative twist in the world of networked journalism. 

I must say a year or so ago I thought Business 2.0 would have been the one to make the move online and create a social network for its subscribers and readers. 

Alas, it is Fast Company that has outlasted Business 2.0 and made the investment in talent (Robert Scoble for one) and in online properties to shake up the media landscape.  On February 8th Fast Company re-launched its site and became the first major media Website to try to blend journalism and online community.  

Edward Sussman the President of Mansueto Digital (offshoot of Mansueto Ventures which owns Fast Company) made an announcement along with the re-launch in a post that can be found here.  Here are Edward’s thoughts on what this initiative is:

“First off, here’s what it’s not: It’s not a pure social network. A pure social network tries to recreate what Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook calls the “social graph” of a community that already exists. You go to Facebook or MySpace and find the friends and co-workers you already know. The real world gets reproduced virtually. Maybe you meet a friend of a friend. We’re not that. We’re an entirely new community of people brought together because we want to share ideas about business. We like business. We think it’s important. Work gives more meaning to our lives. We believe business profoundly helps define our culture. We don’t always know each other yet. We’re an open community. Feel free to introduce yourself to a stranger with interesting ideas. Try not to pay too much attention to the resume info on their profile pages – pay attention to their ideas, what they write or say.”

However the really cool and definitely new feature to the site is summed up nicely by Edward here:

Our newest online editorial employee, superstar tech blogger Robert Scoble, will continue to cover Davos and CES and SouthbySouthWest. We’ll even be introducing a full slate of professional video programming (featuring Scoble and Shel Israel, among others) on on March 3. We are, however, an open forum. Write an interesting blog post and you’ll find yourself featured on the homepage of alongside Scoble, McGirt and Fishman. Respond to one of our articles and you may find yourself in an exchange with the author. Or perhaps you’ll add the author to your contact list so you can keep talking about related issues. Suggest an interesting Fast Talk question for the community to debate and you’ll find not only fellow readers mixing it up but our writers and editors as well.Contribute a provocative video and tens of thousands of our million monthly visitors might take a look. Join a group centered around a Fast Company core topic and engage other experts in your field. Fast Company is about eight core topics: innovation, technology, leadership, management, design, social responsibility, careers, and work/life balance.”

Social interaction is the direction that all media is going and hats off to Fast Company for taking the first crack at it. Sure there will be some issues (the site went down within hours of launching because of the amount of traffic it was seeing), but that’s the price you pay for being the first to market with a new innovation.

Here at Racepoint we plan to be active participants in Fast Company’s networked journalism environment – Engaging in conversations around topics at the forefront of the industry including social responsibility, innovation and leadership.We also plan to blog along with the likes of Scoble and Chuck Salter on the Fast Company site.

Larry Weber, our visionary of the social web, made this insight in his most recent book.  “In traditional publisher or corporate-controlled media such as newspapers, magazines, radio and television, the communication are overwhelmingly one way. Professional journalists research and write stories that are edited and disseminated to the public.  Social media such as blogs, however, allow everyone to publish and to participate in multithread conversations online.”

The line between the two has become increasingly blurry over the last couple years and with Fast Company’s latest initiative the wall between the two may be brought down for good.   

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