On the Fast Track
The Web site foregrounds user-generated content while attempting to integrate such material with staff-produced articles and blogs. According to Ed Sussman - president of Mansueto Digital - the goal is to create and facilitate conversation around ideas relevant to Fast Company readers.
"The print magazine produces great content that we will use to create discussions on many levels," Sussman notes. These include member groups, live and time-shifted Q&As, questions from the editors directed to the readers, and polls.
"Journalists also blog about the stories they've written and answer [readers] questions or comments directly on the article comment section," he says. "Plus, readers can find our journalists' member profiles, and request to add them as [Fast Company] ‘contacts,' so they can send messages to them directly."
The Web site also generates ideas for the magazine, Sussman says, through excerpts of user blogs, material collected from readers and ideas suggested for stories or follow-ups.
Osekoski says conversations are categorized to match elements of the magazine's core message: the innovation of business with a focus on technology, sustainability and design.
"You can go in there, and if you're just interested in the innovation of design, you can go into the design channel and talk to people within that community," she says. "Social networking ... is not just bolted onto our site, it's actually packed into the site - it's not a side item, but it's part of that whole [core] element."
Sussman sees FastCompany.com as offering alternatives to the chaotic feel sometimes generated by social-networking sites.
"Think of a pure, big, social network as a big house party," he says. "You might meet interesting people, you might not. You might love the crowd scene, or you might not. Think of ‘social publishing' - which is what I think this is - as a dinner party thrown by a great host who takes great care in who gets invited, who sits next to whom, and what gets served as the meal."