Folks want to pretend the internet is powerful because everyone has a voice, but the truth is everyone having a voice leads to Yahoo Answers and YouTube comments more often than TED talks and the New York Times opinion page.
New York-based Roundtable is an elegantly designed message board in which people are put on two levels: selected experts and everyone else.
After signing in with Twitter, you can comment on what former TechCrunch blogger MG Siegler and New Yorks Times Bits blog lead writer Nick Bilton are saying in this discussion about blogging -- but you're relegated to second fiddle, with your comments appearing on the right-hand side. Also in the blogging discussion: Techmeme founder Gabe Rivera, former Business Insider and Forbes writer Dan Frommer, founding Director of Expert Labs Anil Dash and Editor of Inside Network's news sites Eric Rosser Eldon.
The online communities discussion is equally impressive. Chaired by writer/consultant/teacher Clay Shirky it includes Delicious (and now Jig) founder Joshua Schachter, Meetup co-founder and CEO Scott Heiferman, 4chan founder Christopher Poole and award-winning web designer Heather Champ [ see screen shots below ].
Interestingly, Roundtable already has impressive sponsorships for some of its discussions, including law firm Wilson Sonsini (startup funding) and DFJ Gotham Ventures (online communities). That startup funding discussion, btw, includes Spark Capital General Partner Bijan Sabet, TechStars co-founder Brad Feld and VC (and former Huffington Post CEO) Eric Hippeau.
You can apply for Roundtable membership by providing your area of expertise, Twitter handle and a personal link. It's not clear how members are accepted.
Roundtable co-founder Josh Miller was about to start his senior year at Princeton this fall when he took a "leave of absence" to work on Roundtable full time out of Dogpatch Labs in New York.
"I am building an Internet company that I hope will also empower people to turn to each other," he explained in a recent blog post that also cites as inspiration Scott Heiferman of Meetup, where Josh interned.
Josh declined to tell LAUNCH how he attracted so many digerati to the current set of Roundtable discussions.