Monday, June 11, 2007

Web2 Corp (OTCBB WBTO.CO) looks like a very interesting new player in the "content intelligence" market

A couple times this past month I have gotten an unsolicited fax from “High Tech Stocks” for a company with a domain name called I don’t read a lot of them carefully, but this one caught my eye, first, by calling it a “Web2” company, which it is. In fact, the company is officially known as Web2 Corp. and is traded over the counter under the symbol WBTO.OB. The latest financial profile on June 11 on Yahoo! is at this link. The stock declined a bit Friday, but it what the company purports to do is interesting.

This site connects your ip address when you dial in with a zip code. Normally, this is known precisely, as with a fixed cable high speed connection, or a wireless connection (that changes on a laptop as it is moved geographically, as in a motel). I presume that with a local model dialup (like on AOL) it can do this (I’ll test it later). Similarly I presume that this works in a Kinkos or a library (will test). It displays the zip code that it found, and then a number of panels emphasizing local news that may affect the average consumer. These items can include traffic reports, police reports, entertainment (movie listings and plays), jobs, weather and severe storms. There are panels giving feeds to more global sources of news, such as Digg and Tech Crunch.

The site has social networking capabilities that are now familiar to users of Myspace, faceboook, etc. The user can set up a free account and create a profile, blog, and post videos. As with any such site, the user should be circumspect about the information he or she poses and assume that employers or others could see it.

I went ahead and set up a profile and set up one dummy blog entry, pointing to my other domains. I was not able to enter html links, and will have to figure out how to do this.

At this point, it’s interesting to look back and compare this to all of the other kinds of user-defines content facilities over the past dozen or so years. By 1995, a few companies were offering services to define personal web pages. AOL had offered the ability to set up rudimentary profiles early, probably 1994 (when I joined). At the beginning of 1996 AOL offered a personal home page, but did not offer the ability to offer self-publishing of textual content until the introduction of personal publisher (Hometown AOL) by October 1996. By 1997, it was becoming much cheaper an practical for users to have their own domains which they controlled by a simple FTP program (like WS-FTP) and by then Microsoft Front Page was becoming reasonably practical to use. By about 1997, most dialup services were fast enough to handle reasonable amounts of content.

For a number of years, the Web supported some separate cultures. The “dot com” boom seemed predicated on the idea that people could shop much more efficiently over the Internet than they could with bricks-and-mortar stores or with real sales people. I can recall in 1999, at Reliastar (now ING) where I worked, that the CEO told employees that their stock price was soft partly because the company was not a “dot com.” We all know what would happen, starting in late 2000 – the dot com bust. At the same time, all the while, personal publishing was growing, sometimes supported by advertising revenues, which were often small. Around 2003 to 2004, the new generation of Web 2.0 started flowering, with the idea of blogging software (that didn’t work with real reliability until maybe 2005), and social networking sites. All of these concepts can come together with an operation like Web2 Corp, which is why some investors are touting it.

When I had my older site (no longer valid), I had a couple of free news feeds (one from 7AM news and one from Vibrant Media) for a couple years, that gave the visitor a snapshot view of what’s going on in the world quickly. Back around 2003 visitors indicated to me that they found this effective (I would show it to them in bars on Saturday nights before hitting the disco floor). Companies no longer offer this free, it seems. I experimented with a java starter site that could provide pseudo-feeds, but the company that provided that platform apparently failed. Now, I simply provide links to many blogs, that typically are headed by a recent headline-like entry that addresses an issue related in some way to individual freedom and responsibility. But Web2 certain has an infrastructure that could combine current events (local, global, and cyber) with applications that diagram the current state of affairs on many issues, explored elsewhere on these blogs.

Web2 Corp says that it is looking for journalists (I’m not sure how credentialed they have to be) and other professionals, probably mostly as freelance. I’ll look into this over the next few weeks and continue to explore this site and any other new similar sites.

Also today: posting on wireless access in rural areas (Net Neutrality blog)

Update: June 14

Please go to this blog link for information about a June 15 deadline for comments to the FCC on network neutrality.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

AOL was an economic explosion, and WBTO is an enormous implosion. I am glad that you stated "think" because...