What if everything you can do on land, sea and air were all covered by the same Web site? Would you wear a hole in your mouse pad checking it out? Well, now you have a chance with Outdoorzy.com, which proposes to be all things to all outdoor types. A lot of work has gone into the site, so it’s worth musing on whether it stands a chance at succeeding.
It has a social-networking angle, a trip reports angle, a trip locations angle, a gear angle, a forums angle (a regular omni-hedron this place, if such a shape exists). It’s cleanly designed and well organized. A good place to check out if you’re thinking “I wonder what it’s like to hang-glide.”
Any decent site serving the outdoors crowd has to answer a mere three basic questions:
- Where do I go?
- Whom do I go with?
- What should I take along?
- (You’ll notice Two-Heel Drive performs none of these basic functions, which means you can get by on your looks, because they aren’t apparent online).
Outdoorzy has the basics down, but it’s also competing for eyeballs in a wilderness of content. There are already dozens, if not hundreds, of Web sites relating to hiking alone, and there must be thousands when you multiply all the water sports, air sports, and everything else you can do on terra firma.
In a bygone era of the Internet, before venture capitalists would give money to people like Climb_Ca and Ebomb, there used to be a craze for “portals,” destination sites through which everybody would travel on their way to the far reaches of cyberspace. A few portals made it, Yahoo being the prime example. But most went bust because they couldn’t find a way to turn a buck being all things to all people.
The geniuses at Google figured out the Web didn’t need a portal, it just needed a really good index to help people find their destinations, their take-alongs, their traveling companions. If like me you were too cautious and distracted to buy Google stock at its initial offering price, well, you’re probably a blogger, too.
Anyway, back to Outdoorzy: is it plodding down the dubious path to portaldom? Maybe, but as long as we’re trotting out the analogies, let’s think about Wikipedia, which actually is all things to all people – with an all-volunteer staff that draws its wages in the satisfaction of doing something useful. Outdoorzy could go that route and do some good in the world.
I’m guessing, though, that they’re hoping to turn a buck with this enterprise, which complicates things. If I knew anything about making money, well, I wouldn’t be giving all this excellent content away for free five days a week. So, anyway, best wishes to Outdoorzy — if they all get rich and famous we can stand by them while they’re in rehab and insist we believed in them from the very beginning. And if things don’t work out, we won’t have been those kind of people who sit in the bleachers trashing every idea they didn’t think of themselves.