A friend sent me a link to Ethan Kaplan’s prescient 1998 advice to his newspaper employer about the internet:
The Internet is not a medium for the presentation of static pages of content, where you expect a user to just read it and not react. By its very construction, the Internet lends itself to people communicating with other people, and as far back as the beginning of the technology, e-mail and discussion groups formed the core of the online experience. When you provide your visitor with a “voice” in the context of your website, you are not only engaging them in a way that is much more tangible and active, but you are also promoting the notion that your site is a unique place where the user has a say in its construction….
You can guess how this story ends. Badly.
I wrote this when I was 18, in 1997. In 1998 we put up the first OC Register community forum (called Dialog). I ended up leaving OCR in 1998 and then the whole newspaper chain in September, 2001. Planes flew into two towers, newsprint prices went up and the first thing to go was the Manager of Online Community Development.