I‘m not sure what to make of Scoble’s latest project with Rackspace, Building43, yet. In case you haven’t heard about Building43, it launched late yesterday afternoon (and it already has some buzz), and Scoble wrote a long introduction to what it would be on his blog, but even that explanation was sort of cagey and all over the place. The post also included a lot of discussion of how amazing Rackspace as a company is, how amazing the team is at Rackspace, and some careful pointing out that Rackspace won’t even be advertising on the site (Aside: even though the existence of the entire site is in and of itself an advertisement for Rackspace):
“Q: What is Rackspace’s involvement?
A: Rackers and Rackspace are providing the hosting, the team to build the site, the team to get content, and such. You won’t see a logo on there, nor will you see much, if anything at all about Rackspace on the site.
Q: If Rackspace is paying your salaries and for all your equipment, why aren’t you talking about them?
A: For Rackspace Building43 is an R&D group. It’s how Rackspace is learning what it should do next….
The emphasis in the above quotation lifted from Scoble’s post is mine. It turns out that he’s wrong, there is a Rackspace logo on the site, but it’s at the bottom, faded, and sort of out of the way, an afterthought of sorts, so I guess it’s not bad, and, hey, they are releasing the entire site under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License. You can click on the image to the right to see a larger annotated version of the bottom portion of the site.
I’ve quoted the clearest part of Scoble’s post that underlines what the site’s intentions are here:
“…the promise of Building43 is bigger than just being a WordPress blog with a friendfeed group or a Facebook page. The promise is we can help other people and businesses get excited about the Web we love. [Emphasis mine]
Now, I’m being a little overly skeptical and critical here, but reading that line, I think there’s one big problem that Building43 may face: the “we”—the key audience of clued-in individuals needed to help build the community of the site that will in turn help the “other people,” the businesses and people who don’t get what the 2010 Web or Web 3.0 is really about—the “we” whose involvement the site needs to succeed is not part of the “other people” key audience of the site, and so they really have less reason to get involved than they would on a site that actually included them as participant audience members and offered them value back. The site also has some odd revolutionary rhetoric going on, as can be found in the Building43 Manifesto. Quite a bit of Building43 is about building Building43 and indoctrinating participants into its flow.
Now, as I said, I’m still not sure what to make of the site, I’m still wrapping my head around it, and so this criticism is probably greatly maligned. I just get the odd feeling that I’m not part of the intended audience of the site, even though the site definitely wants the input of individuals like me who work, live, and breathe the newness of the current evolutionary phase of the internet.
Building43 looks interesting, and has neat bits like the interview with Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and Founder of Facebook, which I’ve embedded below, but this is the same type of content that we have seen regularly at Scobleizer.tv in the past, so I’m still missing what’s new and great about this great new thing:
On a positive note, I like the design of the site, the Creative Commons licensing, and the integration of FriendFeed and Facebook. The Videos, BLOGs, Web Tools, and Community43 navigational sections of the site are useful. The site is much more of an aggregation of good content than a singular vision, so that’s a definite plus. And if you’re wondering about the name, it comes from Building #43 at both Google and Microsoft, which is both fitting and strikes me as a bit odd (odd to name your site after something owned and run by other sites).