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Thursday, 4 May 2006
MySpace Killer: Not with a bang but a whimper
Now Playing: Knowledge@Wharton podcast
To keep the conversation going from my last MySpace post, wanted to examine the flip side of the site's possible demise, which is to look at external factors. I'm not advocating MySpace's demise but there's seems to a lot of discussion on the topic, usually refining the death of Friendster as the fad-example demise that MySpace could suffer. Besides an internal threat, like my mp3 sharing program that would turn the site essentially into a giant P2P network, there's the external threat that people just tune out and move onto another platform. A recent Knowledge@Wharton article on the long-term viability of social networking sites got me started on this subject. Here's a choice quote that at first struck me as blunt and shallow but give it a second and then reassess:

"MySpace, with 70 million visitors, has become the digital equivalent of hanging out at the mall for today's teens, who load the site with photos, news about music groups and detailed profiles of their likes and dislikes."

Why do I bring this up, the possible ephemeral foundations of MySpace? Yes, there are entrenched fans and social behaviors tied into particular sites that would mean high transaction costs for some; I don't think strong allegiance keeps the majority of people on one social networking site or another. It's the network effects, Metcalfe's Law, that first help a site explode past the Tiiping Point and enter the mainstream consciousness. So I bring it up because the sites depend on openness to what the users (and most importantly the influencers and first-adopters) demand of the platform. YouTube, the darling of the online video, is starting to see ripples (waves, probably not there yet) of discontent and abandonment. Although the copyright issues surrounding any online video site aren't usually addressed, or are skimmed over, by MSM articles, it could be the death knell of online video sharing. A recent YouTube user was kicked out for supposed "repeat offenses" relating to copyrighted content; here's his response:

"Anyway, I’m done with YouTube, almost. It is clear they have no interest in preserving a digital archive of video content for the future, and that I cannot rely on them for posterity...I do have one thing left to do: Ruin YouTube. Since it is so easy to get someone kicked from YouTube, I am going to launch an assault on the service...Every day, I will destroy at least one account. I will only target those with copyright infringing content. When I am done, the only popular videos on YouTube will be those with zero commercial value. We will see how well the service does without the Daily Show and South Park entire episodes that are its real bread and butter." (InsideGoogle blog- "SCREW YOUTUBE")

No, online video sharing will never die completely (the genie is out of the bottle), there will always ways to distribute it through alternative channels if necessary, but let's hope that copyright holders get their heads out of their proverbial butts and realize the value of sharing video online. And Hollywood is starting to get it, slowly but surely. I wasn't able to listen to the webcast of AO's OnHollywood event, but here's a SVP at EMI Music talking about social, user-generated content:

The audience is taking over the programming. A few years ago we looked at litigating it, now we are looking at how to monetize it." (ZDNet link)

I don't want to open up the can of worms around social media and whether it will replace traditional/professional media producers (it won't) but I hope the connection is clear between MySpace's network-based foundation (and is susceptibility to the user's demands or whims-- remember, we're not talking about an entrenched player like Microsoft here-yet) and how it could be undermined both internal or external forces (a giant mp3 P2P network or by user backlash, ala the YouTube example above).

Lunch of Champions
today's lunch, mmm...

Currently Playing: Knowledge@Wharton podcast (iTunes podcast link)- TV Models and the Internet, 4/24/06

Posted by cph19 at 12:33 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 4 May 2006 12:59 AM EDT
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