The impact of the Internet on most things personal and professional could be the life’s work of many a sociologist. How we shop, play games, read newspapers and books, and even how we fall in love doesn’t escape redefinition and change. From my perspective, its how we communicate that’s one of the more interesting topics. Safe to say that 10, perhaps even 5 years ago, stating that “everyone’s a publisher” would be quizzical. Now, evidence abounds.

In terms of “social” publishing, blogs and wikis certainly top the list of examples. These days however, those who chat, shop or place a classified ad in a newspaper can also be called a social publisher. And that’s a lot of people.

Granted, the usability of online forms for these types of tasks is usually exceptional enough to hide this fact. But the underlying result immediately publishes opinions, product reviews, and ads to the broadest communication vehicle available today. Even better, the tools are intuitive, fast, cheap, in some cases, free.

In terms of “corporate” publishing, the once contained group of professionals who publish to the Internet is no more. Formalized content technologies allow personnel across most, if not all business units to redefine information creation and delivery — toward the goal of eradicating Web publishing bottlenecks.

The tools in this arena, a.k.a content management systems and according to IDC, “dynamic enterprise publishing products”, certainly don’t boast the same reputation as those for social publishing. In fact, evaluation criteria such as usability, speed and cost often contradicts the notion of “intuitive, fast, and cheap.”

Still, the content technologies software market continues to redefine corporate publishing and support the fact that indeed, “everyone’s a publisher.” And every so often, there’s a real grassroots example of the ever-expanding definition of corporate publishers who create and deliver Web content on a daily basis. From my perspective, Macromedia provides the most recent example.

Since introducing Contribute in December of 2002 for a mere $99, Macromedia has enjoyed consistently growing sales for the past 2 ½ years for this desktop Web content and creation tool. In fact, the company has shipped over 360,000+ seats in less than three years based on the mantra “Web Publishing for Everyone.”

According to the company, users from its business and consumer markets are responsible for the uptake, bolstering a 165% and 258% year-on-year revenue growth respectively. Christening its Web Publishing System in July 2004 with a similar mantra, Macromedia now boasts 250 enterprise customers according to its latest product update release. Both products are included in the company-defined “Information Convenience” category.

Certainly, reputation and marketing have helped Macromedia establish a formidable presence in the corporate publishing arena. A savvy partnership with eBay will surely make a mark in the social publishing arena by introducing Contribute to thousands of consumers.

It’s my opinion, however, that Macromedia’s growth numbers can also be attributed to the fact that everyone is, or at least wants to be, a publisher. And the Internet makes it possible.

Example: in the enterprise, the definition of “everyone” has morphed from the traditional publisher roles such as Webmaster or technical writer into the evolving responsibilities of business unit representatives across a wide spectrum. Borrowing from Field of Dreams, it’s pretty clear that “if you build it, they will come.” Yes, of course it depends how and what you build, not to mention how much it costs! The point is however, that the corporate publishing audience is ready and waiting.