I remember the first time I cut and pasted a piece of text from a website and shot it out in an email. It was a news story about the “glowing puck” that made watching hockey online far more entertaining. Since then, I’ve grabbed and shared probably a hundred thousand items, happily reveling in the ability to share great finds so quickly and easily. I do it dozens of times a day. I'd imagine you use it every day as well.
So you can imagine my excitement when I was told about Bo.lt, a new cloud-based service that makes it easy to:
- Grab an entire web page
- Edit it, if you so choose
- Publish it in your own Bo.lt stream
- Link people to this customized, faster loading version
It’s a bit hard to grasp the scale of this concept just through reading bullets, so allow me to present a video that’ll take you through the product visually.
These three screen shots take views of my personal blog as I edit out the content on the right hand side of the page. The whole process took perhaps 30 seconds.
The breadth of ways that professionals may use this is tremendous:
- On the most basic level, the platform enables people with no technical background to edit content and republish it for specific purposes. A real estate agent could, for example, make many different pages off of a single page structure, each with different content.
- It also makes it very easy to do A/B web site testing. How will small and large changes in content impact the performance of a site and page.
- It also makes sharing web pages a better experience for the receiver because Bo.lt pages load faster than the originating pages.
The company also foresees broad scale consumeradoption of this sharing approach. That aspect of the Bo.lt vision is drawing largely positive reactions, except among some content owners and publishers who are concerned that their copyrighted content could be compromised by the cloning and editing capabilities. From Bo.lt’s POV, the benefits to pubs will far outweigh these risks because the service holds the promise of dramatically increasing online sharing of content. Bo.lt also makes any link on the page go back to the publisher’s site and ensures that any graphical or text based ads stay functional.
I sat at my desk for about ten minutes contemplating that assertion. There is no question that the web has changed the playing field for content owners and producers, and that sharing has been a boon for many. Even the music industry now seems to realize that the old concepts of ownership are not really relevant in this new interactive media environment. While I am not a lawyer, the spirit of cutting and preserving pages of content intact seems less problematic than the editing functionality. Additionally, if I can make a version of a page that looks authentic using Bo.lt, are we about to see thousands of hoaxes perpetrated on the public?
I think publishers need to really think their response to this through. The current content ownership rules are not generating the revenue required to support a really robust professional content creation environment. Rather than viewing Bo.lt as a threat, I think it all may represent an interesting opportunity for content creators and pubs to address some of their existing revenue shortfalls. Certainly greater sharing and exposure of strong content can be monetized in some way, and Bo.lt may simply be an inevitable step in the evolution of media from one way to multi-way.
I don’t know what all Bo.lt “means” but I am effing intrigued as all get out. It feels to me like a major step on the path to media transformation.
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