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This article was published on June 12, 2009

Scoble’s Building 43. Underwhelming but not without ambition.

Scoble’s Building 43. Underwhelming but not without ambition.
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Former CEO of The Next Web. A fan of startups, entrepreneurship, getting things done faster, penning the occasional blog post, taking photos Former CEO of The Next Web. A fan of startups, entrepreneurship, getting things done faster, penning the occasional blog post, taking photos, designing, listening to good music and making lurrrve.

building-43Today saw the launch of Building43, the latest project from tech evangelist and early adopter Robert Scoble. Over the three or so months of development, Scoble has managed to drum up a fair bit of buzz for the site – despite most people having no idea what Scoble had up his sleeve.

For one, as a follower of Scoble’s career, it feels like one of the first projects where he has been handed the reigns to control the direction and focus. Like everything Scoble’s done in the past, its web focused, however up until now, all he’s said is that Building 43 will be “a community for people passionate about the internet” and to be honest with you, I cringe a little every time I hear the phrase.

I want to make clear that I am an extremely big fan of Scoble’s, I think what he has done and continues to do for the internet and its geeky devotees is second to none. He has been, and despite what I’m about to say, continues to be an inspiration of mine – the web would be missing a beat without him. However, therein lies my disappointment…I was excited, very excited to see what Scoble and his new employers, Rackspace, would pull out of the bag. With a few months of development time, five staff and Rackspace backing the project, surely this would be something different, something innovative, something uber-geeky. It’s not.

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It’s a blog network, really, that’s all it is – a blog network focused on helping businesses make the most of the internet. It’s not innovative (apart from its embedded Friendfeed streams I suppose),  its definitely not new but it does have some momentum because Scoble’s pulling the strings. He’s one of the most connected tech bloggers/journalists out there, and there’s going to be some great interviews on there – no question. If I were to describe Building 43 however, I would call it a mix of and Andrew Warner’s site Mixergy which is full of entrepreneur interviews.

Despite the anti-climax, Building43 does have solid although slightly disjointed ambitions. The site is supposedly for people fanatical about the internet, and Scoble wants to build a community full of them – yet the goal is to show old school businesses how they can become new school. Maybe I’m just missing the point, but I can’t see how the two are going to mix to form a community.

Now, if Scoble had announced the site as a blog or blogging network with a focus on helping old school businesses catch up with the rest of us – I’d know what to expect. Instead however, Scoble described it at this:

“Building43 is a Web site. It’s a T-shirt. It’s a Twitter account. It is a video channel on It’s a friendfeed group. It’s a sticker. It’s a team. It’s a Facebook Page. It’s a database (or really a few of them). And more. It’s a community for people who are fanatical about the Internet.”

Frankly, that’s what every business should be. That’s what we are, that’s what virtually every popular blog is…

For once, I’m slightly lost for words. Put it this way, based on everything Scoble has said about the site, I stayed up way past my bed time specifically to see what was behind the enigmatically named site’s doors. Hoping for something so geeky I might not immediately ‘get it’, I’m left slightly mystified as to whether this really is something Scoble had a say in, or not.