Is Quora unfathomable? Or a cultural phenomenon?

Tagged: ,

Quora has been the hot startup for a while now, and I’ve been meaning to write about it for my column. I finally did that, and here’s how I opened things: “Maybe it’s a sign of an internet startup’s likelihood of success that its initial attraction is entirely unfathomable — or even unexplainable — to the general population.”

Is Quora’s popularity — popularity, that is, among an elite of techies — unfathomable? Not entirely, but I think the site’s appeal will be lost on many, many people. What is Quora? It’s essentially a website for asking questions and getting answers. That’s simple enough. Sites like that, such as Aardvark, and Yahoo! Answers, have been around for a while. But Quora makes the Q&A experience hyper-social, with a Facebook-like layer of following and whatnot.

I’m just not sure this is going to translate into a phenomenon along the lines of YouTube or Twitter or Facebook.

Read my column.