This is significant in many ways....
The perception of hosted social software like Gather.com has been that packages of this sort are the province of young people. With LiveJournal, MySpace, and Friendster, there's ample evidence to support that contention.
Yet as more adults between the ages of 35-59--the group that does not quite fit the cohort represented by those 3 sites--spend their free time on the 'net, many may discover what is so appealing about those sites: Community.
In the past, adult community needs were met by various bbs's and usenet newsgroups. However, those methods do not allow for the same sort of stimulus and interaction that blogging allows. As some of those sites become more troll-infested, and the anonymity factor inherent in bbs and usenet groups becomes less appealing, finding on-line communities of common interest, where one can be known as well as know others thru their blogs, will increase in importance. Futher, there will also be a need for those who "age out" of the other communities to find new age-appropriate communities.
As it is now, there is no alternative to the safe haven of something like LiveJournal. One must go into the less secure spaces of Blogger, Typepad and Moveable Type if one wants to blog and, possibly, create/find community to exchange ideas. There are many though who would like to blog but want the distance from spammers and trolls that is afforded on LJ and MySpace. They would like their voices to be heard, to share their thoughts, to find Like Minds and not have to fend off spammers, trolls and freakazoid gawkers.
The desire and ability to find Like Minds in blogging is, even now, a concern for those of us 35-59 year olds who do not wish to be strictly sources of regurgitated information and pithy political commentary. Finding community and conversation around information or opinion is as problematic in the blogosphere as creating a respected and not strictly information/political blog may be. Comments features, which all blogs have, are supposed to facilitate community, but many information-oriented blogs do not receive comments--thus, no conversation. Of the ones that do, often the bloggers themselves do not interact with the commentators. Many who search to build community search to interact with the blogger of a post as much as with those who buzz around the comments sections.
But, even when one interacts with commentors, the chances of finding commentors within one's geographic area is never guaranteed. We bloggers have a better chance of making friends with a fellow community-oriented blogger halfway around the world than one in our own backyards...thus making the Global the Local...but hardly anyone you could meet out for a cup of coffee...
So this venture between MPR and Gather.com has great potential for 'net savvy adults who desire to find like minds, have great conversation, and create communities thru blogging. Why should the kids have all the fun?