Controlling The Discussion
This is a tremendous leap for a major news media organization to make, and CNet should be commended for having the insight and guts to point users away from their site. Because of their size and because they are mainstream, they have instantaneously become the site that people will go to to find discussion on a given hot topic.
What are people saying about Kazaa being designated as "spyware" by Computer Associates? Check CNet. What about Microsoft's proposed piracy amnesty? CNet can point you to people who care.
How would I otherwise find the discussion? I'd go to Technorati, or maybe Google, but I'm a geek--my mom and dad don't know what Technorati is. Also, I would only look for more information if I was really interested in the subject, but making a list of Trackbacks eaily accessible (like CNet does) makes it a lot more likely that I'll check them out, even if I'm only moderately interested in the article.
Another benefit for CNet: they are able to keep tabs on discussions from around the web. Is one of their articles unexpectedly racking up Trackbacks like crazy? They can dig into the story a little more, write some analysis, or even bump up the visibility on its front page.
They are in a better place to give their visitors what they want AND to control the conversation by aggregating and displaying data that their visitors gladly provide them. In return, their visitors get some GoogleJuice.
I wonder how they're going to handle trackback spam? The volume of trackbacks leads me to believe that they can't be subject to editorial approval, and there's no aggregate policing system a la Friendster.com's "is this posting inappropriate" link. It will be interesting to see.
Get people involved! This is not top-down, one-to-many anymore. The Internet is side-to-side, up-and-down, many-to-many. Use it that way. It's the dialogue, stupid.
While established companies are rarely the early adopters--they prefer to wait to see how they can make money off an idea, even though paradoxically they are in the best place to be able to figure that out after implementation--it's exciting to see a major player like CNet dive into the pool head-first.
As I wrote earlier, there's a huge opportunity for major content providers to facilitate discussion, so kudos to CNet for stepping to the plate.