Wednesday, September 13, 2006

MySpace: The Beginning Of The End

So, on some random day a year or two ago, a friend from Austin informs me that I should get a MySpace account because there are so many chicks on there. After explaining that I had a girlfriend, I created an account. After all, I'm into learning about virtual communities.

I was shocked at who I found online. I found old high school friends. I found old college friends. I found friends from other states. That was the promise of so many other social networks - but I'd never known it to be so effective before. I suppose Linked In gets second place - in my personal experience.

However, there's no other way to say this than - MySpace Sucks. It's ugly, buggy, slow, unintuitive, and generally speaking - a heaping pile of crap. From a developer perspective, I simply can't understand why anyone would use such a horrid service. However, it's obvious why people continue to join MySpace - because everyone else is already there. It's a trend.

Another good friend in Austin told me MySpace would come and go just like every other fad. I couldn't agree more. Of course, I think the same thing is true of the USA, just like Rome came and went. So with MySpace (and the USA I suppose), I often wonder how and when???

I've already noticed many of my friends starting to log on less and less. People who used to log in daily are logging in weekly. People who used to log in weekly are waiting months at a time, if logging in at all. Then this week brought me two articles that, for me, are signs of the apocalypse.

The first one is by Trent Lapinski, titled "MySpace: The Business of Spam 2.0". Trent brings up the obvious points about MySpace being an advertising vehicle like no other. While I say this is obvious, Trent does provide some excellent editorial about the topic. Most notably, however, Trent also cites that the folklore often spun regarding the origins of MySpace is largely false. The most interesting for me being how the community was seeded.

Seeding a community is the hardest step. Getting your initial user base large enough to make a site feel 'alive' is where most virtual community efforts often fail. Once you get beyond that point, growing your community becomes much much easier. I have read, and can't seem to find an online article to link to now, that Tom and his friends started MySpace as a personal social network tool that caught on among their friends on the west coast and spread from there. It was a nice fairly tail. Truth be known, according to Trent, that Tom was little more than a gimmick and Dewolfe actually leveraged other existing databases to seed MySpace:
"At that point, eUniverse had over 50 million email addresses in their database, as well as over 18 million monthly web users."
I do feel a little better knowing that such an unappealing service didn't get it's success purely from word of mouth. eUniverse was in a good place at the right time.

The other article that popped up on my radar this week came from Marshall Kirkpatrick (of TC fame) and is titled "MySpace: We don’t need Web 2.0". He pulled a quote from MultiChannel that seems to be flying around a lot today:
If you look at virtually any Web 2.0 application, whether its YouTube, whether it’s Flicker, whether it’s Photobucket or any of the next-generation Web applications, almost all of them are really driven off the back of MySpace
Wow, how amazingly arrogant! It's true, YouTube leveraged MySpace. In fact, YouTube leveraged MySpace much the way eUniverse levered their existing sites (read: users) when they started MySpace. Flickr (not Flicker), on the other hand, probably would have done very well without MySpace. In fact, of the dozens of sites I've seen attempting to lean on MySpace, most have failed.

Nothing is forever on the Internet. When you think of Google, remember Alta Vista. When you think of Alta Vista, remember Webcrawler. MySpace's time came... and it will go.


thä Dýna§ý said...

but myspace = vagina
and vagina will always stay constant :)

Sean said...

I agree MySpace will one day fizzle, but not anytime soon. At least not with this current generation of teens. From various 'adult' perspectives such as that of a developer or that of a web designer, MySpace is cheap. But from a youth perspective, it provides the best connectivity among friends (and allows you to peep in on people without them knowing).

I'm sure the next generation will follow a new fad, but for the next few years at a minimum MySpace will continue to be firmly planted in #1 IMO.

Anonymous said...

wow- you mean a small handfull of blogging individuals is losing interest in MySpace?- too bad the rest of the world is still quite fond of the service they receive. Sadly, even though you've grown tired of communicating with your friends, does not mean anyone else has. I have been on MySpace now for about 2 yrs, and continue to find more and more lost friends. When you reconnect with someone you haven't heard from in awhile, you tend to log on more to see what's new with them as frequently as possible. Too bad you just don't know enough people to keep you interested/interesting.

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