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  • Demand Media’s Planet Of The Algorithms

    Fresh off its IPO, Demand Media is blanketing the Web with answers to millions of questions you didn’t know you had. Is that a business?

    Fresh off its IPO, Demand Media is blanketing the Web with answers to millions of questions you didn’t know you had. Is that a business?

    How Demand Media uses algorithms to determine whether creating content around a particular search topic will be profitable

    “We are thinking through the implications of, ‘How do you editorially program the planet?’ ” says Byron Reese.

    It’s March 2010, and Reese, the chief innovation officer of Demand Media (DMD), is accepting a “game changer” award for innovation at the We Media conference in Miami. Several dozen people listen as he invokes Demand’s plan for cranking out Web pages and videos to quench every last bit of human curiosity wherever it springs up. The plan’s code name: Little Brother, a nod to George Orwell.

    Reese does not share many details about how Little Brother will work. Instead, he shows an image from The Terminator. “Perhaps at this point you’re thinking, ‘I know where all this is going,’ ” says Reese. ” ‘I’ve seen this movie before. The machines are going to start making the decisions. We’re going to be ignorant. They’re going to take over.’ ” He assures his audience that Demand Media will not annihilate humanity.

    Over the past decade, Reese has quietly pioneered a new breed of media company, colloquially called a “content mill.” Where traditional media companies rely on creative professionals to generate ideas aimed at loyal repeat readers, content mills are far more transient. They rely on crowd-sourced stories and search engine optimization, the art of gaming online search results to ensure one appears at the top, to rope in drive-by users looking for a quick hit of information—how to hang a door, say, or make sourdough starter. The pedigree of the source providing it is not important.

    Read More:

    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/11_06/b4214064466703.htm

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