Midnight tonight was the official beta launch of the New Netscape. Gone are (or soon will be) the days when Netscape was just another portal. The New Netscape (or NewN as it's been known in the halls of AOL, where I've been watching this thing cook in secret) takes a lot of cues from Digg, the horrendously popular but very early-adopter social bookmarking site. Like Digg, users vote on articles, causing them to rise above the fray. Unlike Digg, the site is photo-rich and employs a team of "anchors" who recommend and comment on stories.
Also unlike Digg, it's not just about tech. It's the social bookmarking site for the everyman -- for each of the 95% of users out there who have no idea what "social bookmarking" means and the 90% of those who don't care to know.
The importance of this, as creator Jason Calacanis points out, is that it provides a way for the regular guys to engage, for those early adopter types to connect with the rest of us. It's also a nice combination of some features familiar from AOL (that rotating tabbed box looks like something I've seen before) and the interesting new user-created feature. Most importantly, though, for once Time Warner is coming out with a product before it's perfected by Yahoo! and Google. Time Warner being proactive? You heard it here first.
I'd say it's brilliant, but I'm
a bit a lot biased -- not only is it a product of my employer, but it's eerily similar to a product I helped one of my former bosses conceptualize. I'll let others do the talking for me:
Michael Bazely, SiliconBeat: "... its popularity could make it a must-be place for publishers, who will enter their content into the system and hope for the blast of traffic that comes from landing among the top -rated stories. Calacanis calls it the Slashdot-effect on steroids. Then again, the site could pick up very little steam, and continue to do nothing more than make a nice little bundle of money for AOL."
Jay Rosen in the New York Times: "There is a lot of potential in using the wisdom of the crowd to point journalists in productive directions. Whether it works in practice is a whole other question."
Rafat Ali, PaidContent.org: "The site has all the Web 2.0-ish goodness you can imagine: tagging, Ajax, sharing, recommendation, RSS, video and audio uploads, etc."