The Idea Dude

CONNECTING THE DOTS ONE AT A TIME

Friday, November 03, 2006

Is TheGoodBlogs a disruption?

I traded some emails with well-known disruption consultant Michael Urlocker. He challenged me to answer three simple questions with honesty and humility. I chose to do that here and put my stake in the ground for all to see.

  • Is it an important problem that we are solving? We thought it was, enough so, we abandoned our careers and took out loans to build this. If word-of-mouth is about passing news from person to person, than we're probably the only solution out there actively doing it in a distributed manner i.e. every time a blog is viewed. We don't wait for someone to carry your post or put a comment on your blog entry or grab all the content to put on our portal.
  • Is it a frequent problem? Our addressable space is 97% of the blogosphere. If Feedburner, Technorati, Sitemeter or anyone who carries significant statistics were to reveal their numbers, it would point to 3%-5% of their population being responsible for 50% or more of their traffic. Even if conservatively there were 10 million active blogs out there, our potential market would be over 9 million bloggers.
  • Is the customer already trying to solve that problem, but can't do so adequately with current tools? I would believe the answer is yes. I doubt anyone would say no to getting more mindshare, readership, dialogue and brand. Of the 97% of bloggers out there, they're definitely not doing it for the money. If anything, it takes a terrific amount of time and energy for very little return.

Michael also said successful disruptors look inferior to mainstream markets in which they focus on. That may explain the fact that despite some emails placed from well-connected sources none of the major tech tabloids carried our launch. A-listers perhaps really don't care about long tail. It is after all the nightmare they wish they never wake up to. We had more success from our own TGB community and perhaps there is a lesson to be learnt from that. You definitely know who your friends are.

I hope I answered those questions honestly, I can't say I'm objective (not when you spend 70 hour weeks doing this.) I even feel guilty that my blog has definitely taken a TGB bias, (which believe it or not is unintentional), it happens to be what I think about all day.

Disruptors are not unlike prophets of old. They either bring about profound changes or get stoned. Let's hope TheGoodBlogs is not the latter...

10 Comments:

Anonymous Ian Delaney said...

Fab post, Vern. Food for thought,too. While I think that hierarchies of some sort are inevitable in this sort of universe (some blogs *are* better than others), the current 'long tail' scenario clearly undervalues all the quality writing out there.

5:50 PM  
Anonymous Sean Howard said...

It's been a great addition to my blog.

Funny how, as bloggers, we add tools every day that drive links away from our site. Blog rolls, Link rolls, etc.

But when it's links to stories of other bloggers, it does cause one to stop and ponder.

And hopefully one will then laugh and add TGB to ones site. Like I did.

6:31 PM  
Anonymous haydn said...

Vern - I am not sure you are solving a problem that wouldn't otherwise be solved. If I go to Netscape or digg I can rustle up better numbers than I did before joining the good blogs - I mean post a few things there and you get identifiable traffic. And elsewhere people will say - here is a route to numbers. I think goodblogs is about something else. The network could work to everybody's advantage a lot more than it does; there could be more cross-promotion; but the essentials are there for doing that and in a morally acceptable way. There's an element of reputation building going on, even without numbers, when a group of people decide to join and post with half an eye on knowing they are members of a network. MY one reservation is I think we do too little to drive the conversation on the various issues that arise. Though part of a network we're often just content to say our piece and move on - that's a different form of discussion than the conventional one and I am not sure it's the best way to tackle issues. So tehre, you see I am ambivalent but positive.

3:32 PM  
Blogger The Idea Dude said...

Thanks for those thoughts, Haydn. We started out thinking it was about the numbers but we learnt that the benefit of building brand, discovery, conversations were unanticipated consequences. I get a fair share of emails regarding readership numbers and is 10 or 1000 good. My answer is anything greater than 0 is good. Ian has terrific post about that.

What TheGoodBlogs is shaping out to be is a place to create distributed conversations and we're figuring out how not to lose those important threads of thought that intertwine our member blogs.

The difference between going to Netscape and Digg is that one is a conscious effort and time consuming. You can do it once a month and maybe even once a week but unlikely to do it every day. With TGB, there is no effort on your part but to blog. The support structure is implicit.

Whether the whole endeavor is important to the Blogosphere, the bloggers will vote on that ultimately. We just thought it important enough to try.

3:57 PM  
Anonymous Ian Delaney said...

I liked Haydn's comment.

We are a network. We probably read a lot of each others' posts (apart from Haydn's - he is far too productive). Yet the informality of this network means that the connections that could happen don't always do.

I am normally averse to this sort of idea. But what about some sort of blog festival or competition events? We've got a lot of clever people that could really make that something special.

8:11 PM  
Blogger The Idea Dude said...

Interesting idea, Ian. Definitely worth considering, thanks.

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Michael Urlocker said...

That's a fair view Vern, in that you identified an important problem you are solving.

If you want to take the analysis further to include some thoughts on the business model, etc., you can use the Disruption ScoreCard to rate potentially disruptive ideas or businesses. You can rate TGB yourself using this tool in about 10 minutes. I would be curious how you score.

Apple's new video iPod system rated A-, while Vonage rated C when I did it.

Some of the questions may not apply, so just fill in what seems relevant to your business.

The Disruption ScoreCard and a few related management tools are available free to any would-be disruptors on the top left "tools for managers" section at www.OnDisruption.com or at this URL:

http://www.ondisruption.com/Disruption_Scorecard_v2.1.xls

Mike

9:07 AM  
Blogger The Idea Dude said...

ok, I filled it in and got an A-. If I left out a couple of questions that may not apply directly, I ended up B+. Not sure if that means anything but the questions were additional food for thought. Thanks Mike for sharing the tool.

10:22 AM  
Blogger my name is kate said...

One of the things I love about TGB is the really focused nature of it. I tend to get overwhelmed by sites like Digg where there is a LOT of content coming fast and furious ... even within categories. Like a firehose.

To me, TBG is the nozzle on the firehose (terrible analogy :-) but I 5 to 7 potentially relevant headlines and generally end up choosing 1. But I find that the one that makes it through is usually a gem. So far, TGB has been a really effective filtering mechanism for me.

So TGB has definitely solved one of my problems - getting to good content faster. Will that continue to be the case as more people join up? Maybe, maybe not. Will be interesting to see, as Haydn mentions, if the reputation piece kicks in for people.

1:46 AM  
Blogger The Idea Dude said...

Thanks Kate, we always run a fine line between quality and quantity. Firstly, it is a subjective measure and secondly it requires constant tweaking. I think the key is to give more control to the blogger to define his/her sphere of interests but also introduce new and interesting blogs to the mix.

At TGB, we're small enough to fail fast and react to suggestions from our members pretty fast (although sometimes it feels like it's not fast enough!)

11:59 AM  

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