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April 22, 2006
BW's Rob Hof spawns an avatar
Here's a fun cover story by BW's Rob Hof about virtual gaming. I especially like the end, where he gets mad at a few virtual squatters who have invaded his land, and he mulls going to a virtual gun shop. Clearly, this is no longer Rob.
"My avatar, which so far has acted much like me, hanging back from crowds and minding his punctuation in text chats, suddenly is taking on a life of his own. Who will my alter ego turn out to be? I don't know yet."
You'll notice that the writing of this piece is quite different for BusinessWeek. It's first person. And if I'm not mistaken, that's Rob's picture on the cover, standing right next to his avatar. (It's hard to be sure squinting at the thumbnail image on BW Online.) There was a tiny snapshot of Heather and me on our blog cover, a year ago. That was unprecedented. But this is in a different league altogether.
This is part of a continued evolution of newsweeklies. A generation ago, many of them didn't even have bylines. They tried to convey the authority of an institution, and didn't want individual voices and egos muddying the picture. But now, increasingly, the writers are stepping (or being pushed) into the spotlight. The idea, I think, is to give magazines different voices, and to build up brands that can extend the franchise into blogs, podcasts, TV, and conferences.
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