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Valerie: Great post - I really love your insights about costs in the middle to make it happen- especially around moderation and curation. You may enjoy something I posted earlier in the week on my blog "How Smart Marketers Think Like Media Companies" that focuses on some of the mindshifts required for marketers to help their companies become media companies. http://www.interactiveinsightsgroup.com/blog1/how-smart-marketers-think-like-media-companies/ Let me know what you think!

You might want to follow the development of the current Wordpress 3.0 Beta. This upgrade to the current 2.9.2 will include the functionality of WordpressMU, multiuser. It allows multiple instances of Wordpress blogs on a single domain. Combined with the BuddyPress plug-in, you can have your own hosted social network allowing users to add and edit their own content.

The good thing is that you own your content.

There will be a learning curve, relatively steep. But it should not dissuade someone wanting Ning or Facebook like functionality and keeping control of your content.

It will work with the vast majority of current Wordpress themes and plug-ins. It's well worth checking out and watching as it emerges from Beta later this spring. Personally, I will wait until Wordpress 3.1 to move my sites, just to allow the platform to mature a notch. No reason to be the first guinea pig. But as soon as the world gets it tested and the major bugs out, I have a lot of uses for it. If you're reading this, you will too.

@Steve -- I should have let you do the post :) Content is important, and it needs to be a consideration along the path, not just something you throw in there at the end. However, I wanted to shine a light on the process -- how you need to think about it and what the costs are. We'll definitely talk more about the content part in future posts.

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