The Gather-ing Storm

Posted by: Rob Hof on January 16, 2006

Yikes, I guess the hype about Web 2.0 is starting to reverse course. Just as the new blogger network Gather gets $6 million more in venture funding, bloggers are falling all over themselves to dump on it. No surprise that some of the knocks come from competitors such as Jason Calacanis and those like Kent Newsome who worked on failed antecedents. But some of the most critical comments are coming from folks who normally are quite open to new Web 2.0 companies, such as Mike Arrington and Om Malik. Steve Rubel even thinks it’s another sign that a Web 2.0 crash is coming.

Truth be told, they all have a point (actually several good points). The site right now is so full of unexplained features that it’s hard to figure out what to do. And the stories voted tops by readers don’t exactly seem like stop-the-presses stuff. They include someone’s visit to a park in Grand Rapids, Mich., and another’s muddled rant on avian flu policies. Though I don’t know enough to speak to the business model, some folks clearly believe that it will be a stretch for Gather to pay bloggers enough from the ads they generate to provide true incentives.

Finally, the manifesto by lead investor Jim Manzi of Lotus fame, which trumpets the end of “the literary industrial complex,” whatever that means, betrays a certain arrogance attitude that seems to conflict with the grass-roots goal. Since it’s hardly the first to stake out the general territory of social news sites—there’s also Newsvine and Inform.com—such an attitude seems unwise.

Well, the game’s still young. And Gather’s in beta, after all. If it can bring all these pieces together more elegantly, it could evolve into a worthwhile service. For now, it’s got plenty of work to do with all that money.

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Reader Comments

sterling hager

January 16, 2006 04:05 PM

My two cents on three points: 1.) Jim Manzi, arrogant? Pope, Catholic? 2.) On being first--Remember, there was a spreadsheet before Lotus 123, and yet one would think the whole concept was invented on Memorial Drive in Cambridge. Being first never mattered. It won't matter now. Best and biggest, loudest, most moneyed-up matters in that world. Witness, you're writing about it and so am I. Fortunately in the long run, the wisdom of crowds prevails. 3.) Literary Industrial Complex? Add the word Knockwurst,(LICK) and append the word Me and you may get what most people who have actually blogged think about that contrived bit of analyst-speak. It's a sound-bite bloviation that comes in handy when a business model isn't speaking loud and clear on its own behalf as you noted.

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