The myspace.com appeal
Thursday, March 30, 2006
The internet has turned into an ubiquitous communication medium, and it has become more obvious to me that the sustainability of a web presence is all about web social communities and organic traffic growth.
This fact was not lost to a few entrepreneurial companies out there, for example flickr.com, technorati.com, friendster.com, del.icio.us, and digg.com all use the organic nature of the internet to their advantage. These businesses appear to thrive because of users' willingness to gravitate around their services. Though, I am not sure how profitable they are, they do have quite a large number of users (I count myself among them).
It seems odd to think of such a solitary activity as typing on a keyboard and staring into a computer screen to have anything to do with community building, but there is no other way to describe it.
We, as individuals, have such diversed interests that we are bound to find someone who has written something about any particular topic we are looking for. This traffic eventually evolves into trends, which in turn becomes a web community. In other words, "we search, we find, we stick around."
For example, it is likely you will read one or two other of my entries, and if you find anything remotely interesting you will probably bookmark my site or subscribe to it via RSS feeds. Just because you do this, it does not mean that what I have written is of an extremely important nature, on the contrary. But we are web surfers and this is the nature of the business: we are just curious to see what anyone else has to say about anything, without prejudice or personal interaction--perhaps an email here and there, but that is as personal as it gets.
This new type of computer usage can be confusing to some of us. I, personally, still find the appeal of web communities, such as myspace.com, perplexing. The whole community of myspace.com is about nothing and everything, at the same time. Anyone who is any body is a part of it. The voyeuristic flavour of the site still irks me a bit because so many people (of all ages) willingly share so much personal information about their mundane lives.
As a technology professional, I am not a afraid of change or uncertainty. On the contrary, I embrace the state of flux. So, it is my duty to at least try to understand how these web communities work and how people use them. Thus, in the spirit of research, I finally created a myspace account. My space in myspace.com is www.myspace.com/d_atlacatl
Being new to the myspace.com experience, I was surprised to find that within 1 minute of creating my site I already had a friend. Yes, a web friend. I have no idea who he personally is, but Tom
is my myspace.com friend.
I spent a couple of hours looking around the networks of people each "friend" creates. It is fascinating. And the more I looked around, the more I wanted to be quirky and unique, so updating "my space" became priority one.
I have to admit that I already put too much constructive energy maintaining this site, so keeping up with another, specially where you really have to become part of the community, is just not realistic. I still prefer the old style of rambling about for the sake of rambling and not expect to be linked by other interesting net citizens. Although, I would like to find out if "I am hot or not."
In other words, I have no altruistic motive to share my feelings with anyone, really, but just knowing that there are thousands of creative individuals centered around one web address is motive enough to sign up. I just have this feeling that there are hundreds of software applications and business models that are and will be spurting out of this community. Some will be useless and do not really deserve to be called software applications, but some will be worthy of venture money and from these we will keep learning how these internet protocols can be used for--aside from advertising, commercial web services, and complex banking and trading systems.
What type of innovations can we expect? Well, every kind. myspace.com knows that they can not provide every tool needed. They provide, however, the hardware, the bandwidth, and publishing tools to create and maintain hundreds of thousands of users. The rest, the true evolution comes from the users themselves, i.e., if someone needs something, this someone will just invent it and share the result with everyone around. This may not seem like much, but there have been cases where we have been surprised with this quiet, unfunded inventions, i.e., Napster.
Napter is the poster child for innovation where no one was looking to innovate. Shawn Fanning, a righteous dude, has written himself into the history books simply because he wanted to share his music with friends. There was no software available to do it, so he skipped a few computer science classes and designed and implemented a whole new music distribution medium.
The legality of the scheme came into question, and of course we all know what happened. The usage of the idea and program became illegal, but the beauty and simplicity of the peer to peer model still prevails and is evolving daily.
This revolution created new economies where there were none at all. Just in my last engagement at Sybase, I worked with the FIX Protocol implementing and enhancing applications that were described as follows:
SWIFTNet and GlobalFIX are the P2P (peer to peer) infrastructure of secured trade-related messages for banks, broker-dealers, exchanges, industry utilities and associations, institutional investors, and information technology providers from around the world.
It is P2P for real businesses where billions of dollars are transferred via the internet. Is sounds important, does it not?
So, how do I manage my web community around my web site? I do not, as I do not believe I have one. But if I did, I would just let it grow organically and randomly--no point in forcing traffic my way.
However, I do receive a few hits per day
. The main attraction, so far, seems to be my resume
and a quick AJAX (XMLHttpRequest) example/tutorial
I wrote last year. I think, overall, my blog entries are secondary, even though the main theme is technology, Java, and Software Engineering. But then again, how many of these blogs are out there? Why is mine so special? It is not, really, but I said there are so many web surfers out there and search engines are getting really good at indexing web content that some people will stumble upon my web address.
So my web community is mediocre at best, and none existing at worst. Unless you count a community of one, i.e., I read my own blog entries and, sometimes, I amuse myself. So, in this particular scenario, a man can indeed be an island, a web island.
For now, though, I will continue to be a web hermit and just live around the edges of this new type of society--no offence myspace.com, but be sure I will return to thee when I get rid of my fear of posting personal information or figure out why you exist.
You've got at least one reader! :-) I subscribe to your RSS feed and read your posts. Your posts are always interesting to read. Keep up the good work. :-)
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