Nick Carr has a blog post entitled Flattened by MySpace where he writes

Roush worries that MySpace "is undermining the 'social' in social networking" by encouraging companies to establish their products as MySpace "members" which can become "friends" with other (human) members: "The company interprets the idea of a 'profile' so broadly that real people end up on the same footing as products, movies, promotional campaigns, and fictional characters - not exactly the conditions for a new flowering of authentic personal expression." In earlier social networks, like Friendster, sham profiles, including those set up for commercial purposes, were scorned as "fakesters." But MySpace, says Roush, "has been hospitable to fakesters from the beginning - so much so that it's now perfectly kosher for a company (or one of its fans) to create a profile for a fast-food chain, a brand of soda, or an electronics product."

Far from being liberating, MySpace "tends to herd its users into niches created for them by the mass market," writes Roush.

I've been having some conversations with folks at work about whether social networking is a fad or a trend that is here to stay. I often respond that it is both. It is similar to the "everything is a portal" phase during the late 1990s. Every website trying to transform itself into a portal was a fad but portals were a huge trend on the Web and it is quite telling that the most popular sites on the Web today are portals like MSN and Yahoo!.

I expect that social networking is going to follow a similar path. In a little while, we'll see the death of social networking being bolted onto every website on the planet (*cough* Amazon friends *cough*) and the permanence of a small number of social networking sites on the Web landscape. Where I may differ from others is that I doubt that MySpace is going to end up ruling the roost in a few years from now. My suspicion is that the site will be crushed by the weight of commercialism such as the kind of spam that I complained about a few days ago and which Niall Kennedy described in his blog post Social network marketing, spam, and gaming. I also don't think users will be able to put up with how obnoxious the user experience is with regards to advertising. On the other hand, I think that sites that emphasize the social in the user experience and respect their users such as Facebook has done will go a long way in the next few years. I liken it to the difference between the approach that Google took with advertising and commercialization in comparison to its portal competitors.


Saturday, November 18, 2006 8:58:48 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
To be fair to Amazon, Amazon Friends & Favorites launched in early 2000.

I think it preceeded this entire social networking craze.
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