IDG revives The Industry Standard online

It offers a community-driven prediction market, social networking, editorial content

International Data Group (IDG) Monday relaunched an online-only version of The Industry Standard, once known as The Bible of the Internet economy, with a new publishing model that includes editorial content, a community-driven prediction market and social networking components.

IDG also is the parent company of Computerworld.

"What we wanted to do was bring The Standard back online only. A print component wouldn't make sense," said Derek Butcher, the online publication's vice president and general manager. "We'll be covering the same topic area in terms of the online economy and the business of the Internet, which of course has grown quite a bit since the original Industry Standard was around. We really want to be true to the editorial integrity and professionalism and quality analysis of the original Industry Standard; we want to provide the what and the why, rather than just the what."

Dovetailing with the editorial content is the prediction market, a way of betting on the outcome of future events, Butcher said.

The prediction market uses community input and proven algorithms to forecast events in the technology industry, according to the statement. Registered users can use mock currency to place "virtual bets" on the outcome of these events.

"For example, a prediction might state, 'Apple will ship 10 million iPhones by the end of 2008,' or 'High-tech venture funding will decrease by 15 per cent in Q2 2008,'" according to a company statement. "As the community members place bets on a given prediction, the resulting market price of the prediction represents the community's consensus as to the probability of that event occurring."

Butcher said he doesn't know of any other media sites that prominently feature a prediction market operating in conjunction with editorial content.

"Certainly not one that's focusing on the online economy as we plan to do," he said. "A third component of the online publication involves a social networking aspect where people who come on the site can connect with other members on the site, and they can see what their friends are predicting and they can rank themselves against their friends in terms of their predictions and their success rates."

Managing Editor Ian Lamont said the predictive market will give people a different way to interact with each other and to understand trends affecting the Internet industry.

"The [Standard] follows a new publishing model," Lamont said. "The old Standard was an organization that had 450 people, but we are operating with a smaller group -- about 10 core staff and partners." Although the staff is small, he plans to add content with freelance contributions.

The magazine was co-founded in 1998 by IDG Chairman Patrick McGovern and John Battelle, one of the founders of Wired magazine.

In 2001, the three-year-old weekly, which grew by leaps and bounds during the dot-com boom, fell victim to the Internet bust. The Industry Standard, which obtained financing from investors in early 2000, expanded its operations and expected to raise additional funds by selling stock. But when investors decided not to invest in stocks related to Internet companies that never happened.

After its efforts to raise additional money from private investors fell short, the publication was ultimately forced to file for bankruptcy protection. At the time, its collapse seemed to encapsulate the dot-com bust.

Although the publication enjoyed a brief resurgence in 2004 as a collection of blogs, that effort didn't gain much traction and the Standard was shuttered again, Butcher said.

"For the most part, that 'launch' of The Standard resulted in making the archives of the original Industry Standard available on the Web; up until that point, they had been offline," he said. Butcher said this is the first real rebirth of The Standard in seven years.

At its pinnacle, every Internet start-up in the US wanted to advertise in The Industry Standard. In addition, the publication achieved a reputation for providing readers with accurate, unbiased journalism and Gary Rivlin, its senior writer, won the Gerald Loeb Award, the highest award in business journalism, for his reporting on AOL.

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Linda Rosencrance

Computerworld

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