UserLand and the Media Get Symbiotic

Dave Winer wrote Sunday that UserLand is working on a deal with a "famous publication" that entails "hosting thousands of weblogs under a new brand quite soon." It sounds like a media site is going to start offering readers a chance to create their own weblogs using Radio Userland or Manila that are published to a common server.

If so, it's a great idea. Offering a shared space for weblogs in a manner similar to EditThisPage, RCS, or PyCS is a cheap way to make a media site more interactive, encourage reader loyalty, and call attention to your main site through its relationship with the weblogs.

After reading recent stories about Salon, I thought about sending Scott Rosenberg an e-mail suggesting that the magazine begin offering weblog hosting with Radio Userland or another tool as a perk for paid subscribers. If you gave people their own short Salon URL in the form, asked them to categorize their weblogs based on Salon's editorial sections, and aggregated all of the weblogs via RSS, you could put hooks to these weblogs all over Salon and create a community overnight.

The site could keep ongoing counts of the most-linked items on these reader weblogs and break it down by category, creating new dynamic "meme trackers" that could be published in each section of the main site. By tracking the most-read weblogs and most-read pages on weblogs, Salon also could find new blood to write for the site -- a pecking order is quickly established in a communal weblog space as the most active, popular, and interesting webloggers get noticed and linked by their peers.

My guess is probably venturing away from what's being planned and into wishful thinking territory -- I'm a Salon premium subscriber who wants it to stick around. However, I just found Rosenberg's May 10 column praising the "symbiotic ecosystem" that has developed between professional media and weblogs, in which he writes, "Good journalists would be fools not to feed off blogs." He also talks about Lawrence Lee, one of the people working on this hush-hush deal, and Dave Winer. I could easily see John Robb, who linked to Rosenberg's column and is also working on the deal, sending Salon an aggressive let's-get-symbiotic come-on in response.

If not, my only other possible theory involves new InfoWorld hire Jon Udell, a professional journalist who has a Radio Userland weblog and is relentlessly gung-ho about the potential of weblogs.

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