Internet-Era Magazine Is Revived to Look at the Future
On Monday, International Data Group, the trade magazine publisher based in Framingham, Mass., will restart The Industry Standard as an online-only technology news site with a twist: readers will be asked to wager virtual money on whether various anticipated news developments and business deals in high-tech are likely to happen.
So-called prediction markets are seen as a way to use the wisdom of crowds to forecast future events, such as who will win the presidential election or the Super Bowl. On sites like the Hollywood Stock Exchange (www.hsx.com), NewsFutures (www.newsfutures.com) and TradeSports (www.tradesports.com), people can bet on the outcomes of films, news and sporting events. The new Industry Standard will extend that model to news about the Internet at www.thestandard.com.
The Industry Standard is a familiar brand to most people in high-tech. Ten years ago, I.D.G. began it as a weekly magazine based in San Francisco.
It became known as much for embodying the initial wave of dot-com hyperbole as for reporting on it: the magazine grew thick with ads from Internet companies and held industry conferences and rooftop networking parties before ad pages and subscriptions withered in the Internet bust.
Its parent company, Standard Media International, sought bankruptcy protection from creditors in August 2001. I.D.G., a major investor in the company, acquired many of its remaining assets, including the Web site and brand name.
Then for six years, I.D.G. did nothing with it.
“It was pretty dormant for the most part,” said Derek Butcher, vice president and general manager of the new Industry Standard. “But recently, we started thinking that there seemed to be a lot of equity left in the brand. People seemed to have a lot of love and respect for it,” he said.
The site, which goes live on Monday, will feature short contributions on a variety of high-tech topics from freelance writers, who will be paid around $300 a post.
But the centerpiece of the new site is the predictive market. When people register for the site, they will receive 100,000 “Standard Dollars,” which they can use to wager on such propositions as “another company will emerge as a suitor for Yahoo” or “TiVo will be bought by the end of the year.”
The listings, which can be suggested by readers but must be approved by The Standard’s editors, will each have associated odds. If the chances are 50 percent that “Google and Dell will team up to make a mobile phone” and it actually happens, a reader would double his money.
Standard Dollars can be exchanged for prizes but will probably be used on the site as a symbol of a person’s reputation for success, Mr. Butcher said.
Prediction markets have been evangelized in the writings of Thomas W. Malone, a professor at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is advising I.D.G.
Professor Malone says prediction markets can tap into the hidden wisdom of crowds, drawing out expertise and insider knowledge.
Google and Microsoft use prediction markets to bet not only on industry events but also on whether a certain product might be shipped on time, Professor Malone said. The results of the betting, he said, often reveal internal problems that managers may not know about.
“Prediction markets provide a way of integrating information from many different people very quickly and effectively,” Professor Malone said. “That is one reason to believe the kind of thing The Industry Standard is doing is a harbinger of something that is going to be much more common in the future.”
FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES
- E-COMMERCE REPORT; Millions of Addresses and Thousands of Sites, All Leading to One (May 28, 2007)
- TECHNOLOGY; A Nod to Journalistic Integrity Is Seen in an Editor’s Return (May 14, 2007)
- OPENERS: SUITS; THANKS, BOSS (December 10, 2006)
- Year After 9/11, Cyberspace Door Is Still Ajar (September 9, 2002)