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The Wall Street Journal embraces Web 2.0

The Wall Street Journal launched a redesigned site Tuesday featuring Web 2.0 – but you have to pay to be a member.

Web 2.0, the user-generated content explosion, has changed the Internet. Social networking sites, blogs and wikis are everywhere, allowing users to create their own spaces and connect with people across the globe. Few social networking sites, however, charge a fee. I certainly would not have joined Facebook (at least initially) if I had to sign up for a paid subscription. But then again, the only purpose Facebook serves me is a social one. Once you start examining your professional social networking options – the cost may be worth it.

For a CIO looking to make contacts and be privy to a host of subscription-only media, may be the way to go.

The paid subscription includes some enticing extras. The self-guided tour (albeit a bit campy — inviting you to “stop by and discover” with “more content to uncover”) provides brief descriptions of the new site additions.

Overall, the redesign boasts an updated look and feel with enhanced story pages (video, audio and interactive graphics), news highlights (which can also be managed as a direct feed to Facebook, My Space, your desktop or even your blog), subscriber-exclusive content, a member community, Mobile Reader (a service for your BlackBerry so you can access your account on the go) and Journal Women (featuring women in business, politics, science, the arts and the world).

There is certainly a lot going on in the new and improved – and a lot of mixed reviews surrounding it.

On one side, some reviewers found the paid subscription to be a deterrent to new readers. Being blocked behind a pay wall could discourage casual browsers and they might look for news elsewhere. On the other side, satisfied reviewers were drawn to the exclusivity factor – developing contacts within, what some have referred to as, an elite group.

Do CIOs see the benefits of paid social networking subscriptions when so many of them are offered for free? Or has The Wall Street Journal missed the Web 2.0 boat?

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