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Human Potential in the Age of Exponential Tech

Seriously? Tom Cruise launches site – Internet gets crazier

Tom Cruise must be reading this blog. Why else would he just launch a new just days after I blogged about him and Scientology? Coincidence? I think not. (Kidding)

In all seriousness, Cruise launched his new website TomCruise.com.

There is a letter on the site from Tom, which states:

“It’s almost impossible for me to believe that I’m celebrating the 25th anniversary of Risky Business, my first starring role in a film. In celebration of this occasion and my 27 years of making movies, I created this site as a thank you, to you, for sharing the journey to me and to invite you to continue to explore what the future will bring.”

He goes on to say:

My hope with this site is to bring you in and share with you the fun I experience every day during the film making process, from working on a script, to the making of the film through to what we see when we settle in our seats and the lights go down.

If I’m understanding correctly, Mr. Cruise wants to build a site that acts as a gateway between him and fans. He is trying to reach them and involve them without actually letting them get involved. He wants to build a “community” without actually building a community. He’s got a slick site, but that’s about it.

I have my doubts about whether or not this site will be successful for many reasons.

1) The Site Reeks of Old Media: Tom Cruise is building a very specific type of site; one that is centered around him as the main brand. Usually, these types of communities involve relationship building and a certain level of transparency between the fan and the figure head. However, with Tom Cruise making such interesting life choices, I wonder how honest the conversation will be. The site has no mention of Katie Holmes or Scientology so I assume it’s going to be a slick, carefully controlled site that only lets the world see the professional side of Cruise. The lack of authenticity might fool some of his more hardcore fans, but I doubt the rest of the web will take the site seriously. Especially when there are such interesting video clips available on the web.

2) Communities need interactivity and dialog. From what I can tell, the site wants to share Cruise’s experiences regarding film making with his fans, but he doesn’t want to cultivate a community. There are no message boards or areas for feedback. This is a one way transmission, in an age where interactivity is king. People want to contribute especially around a subject they care about.

3) Communities have a purpose. There is a plethora of online communities out there and they each have an underlying purpose, be it organizing around a topic of interest like DemoCamp or CaseCamp, or just giving people a way to stalk the people in their extended network (Facebook), there is some sort of pay off for community members to join and participate. Tom’s site doesn’t have much to offer, just a list of movies that he’s made, some pictures, and a few video clips. Nothing I couldn’t get off of IMDB, Wikipedia or Youtube. A site is great but it doesn’t really motivate the user to come back.

Granted it’s early days yet, and I will be watching, but color me skeptical.

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