Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dilbert.com Relaunches with Web 2.0 Flavor

How does a comic strip upgrade to Web 2.0? The answer may well be the direction that Dilbert creator Scott Adams and his distributor, United Media, have chosen with a relaunch of the iconic strip's Web site, Dilbert.com. Adams and United Media are now inviting Dilbert fans to the site for a series of new interactive features. The most interesting of these is a three-pronged approach to what is being called "mashups": giving readers the ability to create their own versions of Dilbert strips. There are three ways this works. The first, known as "punch line," will allow readers to write their own ending to an original Dilbert comic, adding new words to the drawing for the last frame of the strip. This is a lot like the New Yorker magazine's cartoon caption contest, except in the case of Dilbert.com, it's not a contest but rather a way for readers to share their wit with the Internet. A second feature coming in May will allow readers to add their own words to an entire strip. So, they'll be presented with a fully drawn Dilbert comic, but will be tasked with writing the dialogue. And also coming in May, I'm told, will be a feature which will allow fans to write the dialogue for a single panel of a Dilbert strip and then share it with others, who will then write for the remaining panels. Adams himself is expected to randomly write dialogue for strips. This is the bulk of the Web 2.0-ish elements of the relaunched site, according to United Media. There will also be access to animated versions of existing Dilbert strips, as well as free access to the Dilbert archives, for now just back to 2001, and later, to the cartoon's entire history. That's nice since, as I understand it, the archives have traditionally only stretched back 30 days.


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