I am writing in response to Katharine Mieszkowski's July 24 item called "Women.com Goes AWOL." Mieszkowski reports feeling a bit "wistful" as she began to download, print and save parts of the site that are about to disappear into the ether.
To which I add, "wistful" indeed! Sad it is when you think of the vision and excitement of the first few years of this pioneering women's site. As original co-founder of this site, which was born in 1992 as Women's Wire, it is with a large sense of wistfulness that I watched Women.com's demise into what I call a "fluff" site modeled on an old business model of shallow women's grocery store magazines that are little more than foundations for advertising. (Unfortunately for them, that model, lame as some of us might think it is, didn't even work for them in the online world.)
With the growing presence of major investors like Hearst and Disney, Women.com was pushed more and more into the tired content/advertising model of Hearst's women's print magazines such as Cosmo, Good Housekeeping, Harper's Bazaar and Redbook.
Perhaps Women.com's original mission to entice and introduce a female population to the power of the Internet had been realized and an entire women's "portal" is no longer necessary.
And yet, the original vision of having an international body of women who are communicating and sharing knowledge in a vibrant central online hub is a good one and, better yet, will happen over time. We've seen glimpses of it at various online events and gatherings, and as more of the world's population goes online (U.S. women users now make up over half of the online population), I predict that there will be such meeting places and they will be sites/sights to behold!
Rest in peace, Women.com!
-- Nancy Rhine