First there was the L.A. Times, and news you consume while sipping coffee on a Sunday morning. Then LATimes.com. Much later, Forums and Blogging came around, and the Web blew-up, millions of voices came online, writing their own articles, cultivating myriads of micro-audiences, many of them growing to online publishing powerhouses.

Somewhere in that time-frame social networking also blew-up. Friendster. MySpace. Facebook. Then micro-publishing with Twitter. And statuses everywhere. People and content are everywhere, interconnected, closer.

All this has so-far left us with the following main categories of content sources:

  1. Purely editorialized destinations such as CNN.com
  2. Blogs
  3. Forums


The first category strives to provide quality content with paid writers, without emphasis on community-contributed content. They claim and strive to "cover" stories, not merely "opine on topics". While the line is blurry, they've attained credibility, they're part of The Press, their web sites have fancy layouts, sections and categories. Readers aren't typically invited to "Comment" and among the few who do allow comments, this feature is typically executed as an "add-on" several clicks away. In this model, Content is unidirectional: Writer writes, readers read.

Blogging has opened the doors for the little guy to voice an opinion while fostering an open-dialog with readership in the form of Comments closely tied to a Post. A blog typically revolves around a Person or Voice and a set of Interests. Bloggers have for years challenged mainstream media in their coverage of events in timeliness and comprehensiveness. TV and Newspapers find themselves referencing and incorporating bloggers in their coverage. Part of this Blogger's edge flows from agility afforded by their open bias and their rapid-publishing model, as well as their ability to leverage content and feedback from their readership and fellow bloggers. In the blogging model, Content is bidirectional: Writer writes, readers write-back.

Forums have for over a decade grown into the ultimate source of timely information on a wide variety of topics revolving around a Niche Interest, powered by many Voices. Content flows from a collaborative and conversational model. Questions and Answers. Debates. There are no "second-class" contributors, in fact, a Thread Starter Post rarely contains the most interesting information, it's all in the conversation that ensues. All replies are equal. In this model, Content is omnidirectional: Many writers are constantly writing, readers are writers.

These models all have advantages and drawbacks.

While you've come to enjoy and trust the structured, consistent and reliable flow of quality event coverage coming from an editorialized site, you'll often find yourself wishing you could offer your opinion on an article to other readers.

While a certain Blog may have given you a lot of interesting and useful information for a while, you might find yourself yearning for some variety of opinion on a given topic as you start looking around for other bloggers or simply flee to a Forum.

After having enjoyed the variety of information and opinion on a Forum, you're finding yourself struggling with the vast amount of information, constantly wandering from one topic to the other while having the sneaking suspicion that someone somewhere is writing a very interesting post and you're not seeing it!

Beyond the drawbacks of each Content model, it's typically hard for a Publisher to explore which fits them best without wedging themselves into a platform slanted toward a specific model. While transition is always possible with modules, add-ons, plug-ins or full-fledged migrations, the process is typically painful, costly and time-consuming.

It's time for a publishing platform to keep your options open while enabling you to explore, blend and leverage those models.

It's time for Facebook addicts to graduate from the "friend of a friend" model, by meeting interesting new people on your site around the niche interest they share: the DNA for true social networking.

It's time to evolve way beyond Forums. It's time to graduate your Moderators from the "Content-Filterers" they currently are, to the "Content Curators" they could become. it's time to break valuable Content from its paginated forum shackles right onto the front-page. It's time to reward your most prolific users with prestigious links back to their profiles from the article, so they might connect with more users who are interested in their writing. And what better way is there to nurture their writing, than with a welcoming Blogging home?

it's time for a publishing platform to give you the tools you need to enable, foster and reward a culture of Great Content.

It's time.