Scoble's New Thing: Building 43

A week ago we reported that blogger Robert Scoble is leaving his current job running FastCompany TV. Now he’s going to start talking about his new project – a new content and social networking community called Building 43, which he’s building in partnership with his new employer, Rackspace.

More details will be announced on the Gillmor Gang at 3 p.m. Saturday (today, Pacific Time) live at TWiT Live. Scoble will join Steve Gillmor live via Skype from Rackspace’s offices in Austin, Texas.

Regarding the name Building 43: “The first time I visited Google they gave me a tour of Building 43. I found it to be a fanciful place where not only did the founders have offices, but they had this fun board in the lobby called “Google’s Master Plan.” VC Steve Jurvetson has a picture of that board here – seemed like a good metaphor for a community that’s for people who are fanatical about the Internet. Make Building 43 open to everyone.”

Why Rackspace, a hosting provider? Scoble says he visited the company a year ago and was impressed with their approach to building communities and technologies. It’s also a good fit, he says, because the company has touch points with thousands of other companies (providing hosting and other services). A focus of Building 43 will be visiting and profiling these and other companies, with a look at how they grow over time.

I asked Robert how Building 43 will differ from Channel 9, the Microsoft video channel that he started in 2004 that tries to create discussions between Microsoft, its users and developers. His response:

I was one of five guys who started that and, yes, we broke a lot of
corporate rules. We put customers on the home page who could write
“Microsoft sucks” and we wouldn’t take that down. We didn’t follow the color
guidelines of Microsoft’s branding department. Channel 9 was one of the
first corporate sites to have RSS feeds everywhere. It was also one of the
first to have a wiki.

Building 43 will definitely live by that same philosophy, but it will go a
lot further. First, our content will be available via Creative Commons so
you can use our videos or photos or other media on your own sites. You can
cut it up, edit it, or claim it as your own. Second, Building 43 is not a
place. It’s not a website. It’s a distributed community and you’ll engage
with Building 43 on your favorite social network. No need to visit at all. Plus, we’ll have new videos that you can
interact with via technology like that available on and so you can post your own video tips or techniques or demos.

Second, on Building 43 you won’t just find information about Rackspace.
We’re going to help the entire cloud computing industry get more adoption,
users, customers. We’ll cover technologies from Rackspace’s competitors like
Amazon, Microsoft, Google, GoGrid, IBM, and others. Our philosophy on
Building 43 is a rising tide lifts all boats, so we’re going to look to get
you the best advice on both how to build your business better on the
Internet as well as have fun, too. We’ll also link to the best ideas,
videos, demos, blogs, on the Internet. I’ve already been practicing that. In
the past year I’ve linked to more than 16,000 things on my likes feed on friendfeed.

Third, and this won’t be on Building 43 in the first stage, but in the
future we want to make Building 43 a place where you come to build your own
cloud-based applications or services or try out all sorts of new approaches
that the industry is pitching our way.

So, yes, we’ve learned from Channel 9, but we’re going to push it a lot
further and a lot of that depends on how the community evolves on Building

Robert says his personal blog will remain a separate property, but he’ll move it from WordPress to Rackspace hosting to “make that a showcase for new blogging technology (like the various commenting plugins that let you federate comments to friendfeed, for instance).”