John Battelle and Economy of Intention

I had a great time at last week’s Blog Business Summit. I met a lot of people whose work I respect a great deal and people that I found that I had a lot in common with. John Battelle is someone that I hold in very high regard because he inspired me very early on.

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I got an opportunity to hear Battelle speak Friday and he’s as well spoken in person as he is on his blog. The content of his speech inspired me yet again. I’ve read his book, The Search but I don’t think I truly realized how powerful an idea “The Database of Intention” truly was. Adsense and Adwords best illustrate the power of the intention economy and it is those products that have put Google where they are today.

Why FM Publishing?

Given all of that, I still have a lingering question. If Battelle truly believes intent will triumph over content, why did he start a “content” based publishing business, rather than one based on intent? I asked John that very question.

Essentially John replied that in the near term there are tons of advertising opportunities for content. To me that future seems limited. This limitation and distinction is currently being well demonstrated when comparing Yahoo’s quarterly earnings versus Google’s.

I relearned a valuable lesson that day; sometimes your idols let you down. Battelle isn’t a visionary, but he has spent his career being able to recognize them and to report on them, and in a limited way, to capitalize on them. I hope he will be able to learn the lessons he is teaching to capitalize on his Database of Intentions in the future.

Photo by Niall Kennedy.

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