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Thursday, January 15, 2004

Battelle's Search

So Wired founder and former Industry Standard CEO John Battelle is writing a book about search. It's not nearly as interesting as the cultural anthropology of donuts, but if anyone can bring life to a topic focusing on the various strange subspecies of technogeeks and street hustlers who can't get enough info about search engines, it's surely Battelle.

What kind of world do we live in where, on his blog, a former famous CEO is now using the name "Danny" in the same way that others in the search industry do... no last name needed?

It's a bit of a strange thing to watch unfold. Those of us who started tiny and focused heavily on one corner of the tech world -- online navigation -- never imagined that someday, we'd be running along more or less parallel lines (being asked to publish or speak about, blogging to a small but loyal audience, etc., all on the user's passion for and the business of being seen in Google, Yahoo, etc.) as folks who, when we came on the scene, were considered reverentially as something akin to royalty. I mean, Wired. It seemed like big stuff at the time, even though deep down, we thought most anyone with the same connections probably could have produced the same breathless chronicles of the brave new wired future.

I say "never imagined" that we'd gain any kind of foothold with a website that consisted of a few pages of tutorials and articles... but then again, I admit that (after rejecting the name SearchEngineWatchWatch.com) in christening the site Traffick (then: The Guide to Portals... now: Minding the Search Engines' Business... same deal, more or less), it did cross my mind that the names "Wired" and "Traffick" were similar.

In 2000, give or take, Internet royalty gave way to mortality, in the publishing world as elsewhere (by all means, read James Ledbetter's book on the "short, absurd life of the Industry Standard,") but it was the noisy ascent that lured dreamers of a lesser stature (such as your humble Traffick co-founders) into dipping a toe into this world.

It's a world we continue to watch with some awe, and it's been berry, berry good to us, in ways we never might have expected. It's actually energizing to see someone of Battelle's talents and intellect zeroing in on this industry. News and views in any niche can become routinized.

John, we could use you as CEO of Traffick.com, but at present we're short on VC largesse. How does $1/yr. sound to start? We can offer a generous option package.

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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