I was on a phone call yesterday with a co-investor in one of our companies who asked “are you concerned that RSS / blogging is the long tail of the Internet – only relevant to millions of individuals, but nothing beyond that?” I responded with an emphatic no. I noticed two things this morning as I was poking around that reinforced this.
- Greg Reinacker’s blog post on NewsGator Outlook 3.0. Greg is the founder/CTO of NewsGator and on Wednesday afternoon he asked the question “what do you want to see in the next version of NewsGator?” We’re in the midst of the development cycle and still have room for some more features, so we’re looking to see what people think are today’s “killer feature” for the next version of the best RSS aggregator for Microsoft Outlook. By Saturday morning, there were 30 separate posts with over 75 suggestions. Many of these are features we are already incorporating, but some were new, and it was fascinating to see the patterns. I’ve long been a believer in the theory that users are the source of most innovation (this is one of the things I worked on in my doctoral program at MIT under Eric von Hippel and is obviously a huge driver of the open source revolution.)
- Peter Hoskins’ blog post on SpikeSource referring back to his blog post on open source stack management. SpikeSource’s news page has a section on it called “Blog Mentions of SpikeSource” (in addition to the normal “SpikeSource Articles” section from traditional media). Smart move – every company should put something like this up on their news page. It’s not a surprise that Kim Polese – the CEO of SpikeSource – has a clue – as she’s on the Technorati board.
While different cases (case 1: use blog as user community to generate new feature requests for product; case 2: reference blogs as equivalent to traditional news sources about product / company), both are powerful examples of the quickness, ease, and leverage of blogs as a part of the corporate communication and information collection process.
Oh – and I’ve never really worried about “the long tail problem” – I don’t think it’s a problem if the tail is “long” enough.