German media group Bertelsmann plans a return to the Internet and is looking at transforming its Direct Group of book, CD and DVD clubs into an Internet networking scene for older people.
The company believes that Direct Group can turn its aging customer base of around 35 million to its advantage by changing its traditional clubs into Internet communities of like-minded people united by their similar cultural interests
um, isn't this what Gather.com is supposed to be? or at least that's what we were lead to believe...
oh, but the Bertlesmann folks think:
People are getting older...and older people are getting lonelier and they will need communities where they can share their interests," Chief Executive Gunter Thielen told Reuters in a recent interview.
There's something very creepy in Bertlesmann's depiction of "older" people, considering just about anyone who's not 18-34 is considered "older" in the demographic sense. Once again we're getting a depiction of people who are not 18-34 as a bunch of sad loners who need what Bertlesmann, out of the generosity of their profit-seeking little hearts, wants to give us.
I wonder what they would think if people were actually getting younger?
Yet as I learned at SXSW, and as I know from my own social software experiments, if individuals are used to message boards or forums, they might not be interested in keeping blogs. They also might not be interested in "networking"--and if they are, might already use something like LinkedIn
Grownups (won't use the word "adults"--it's got a hinky connotation in this sense) are getting a lot more netsavvy these days, and I'm not real sure there will be all that many takers for Bertlesmann's project outside of its already established customer base.
Although, IMHO, the moniker "MySpace" is becoming a buzzword for any media company that wants to start some sort of network-y, bloggy type of site. To spin a fashionista phrase in the tech terms: "MySpace" is the new black.
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