June 4th, 2006

MySpace is YOUR Space, Not THEIR Space

by

Nick Carr emailed me Saturday morning with the news that Dan Mitchell’s NYT column had referenced my MySpace downturn post and that I had “dragged” Nick along with me. “One could make a career out of this MySpace skeptic thing,” I quipped back, “probably pays as much as a career in user-generated content.”

And then I thought: there’s quite a bit of irony in all this. Here I am with my one-man-band “user-generated content,” taking shots at the granddaddy of user-generated content, and suddenly the skeptical view of MySpace is being read by millions of people in the Times (ok, well maybe not that many).

(Incidentally, the notion of a blog as “user-generated content” is ridiculous on the face of it — what exactly am I a user OF? WordPress? I’m not a user — if anything, I’m a publisher, like any other — except for the profit margins.)

What’s so appealing, then, about this skeptical view of MySpace? Dan is right that, despite the fun I had with Alexa graphs, the “evidence that MySpace is fading is, at best, dubious.”

I think this struck a nerve because instinctively everyone knows the MySpace phenomenon can’t last.

After all, MySpace is just a PLATFORM — the spaces on MySpace belong to the users — it’s YOUR space, not THEIR (i.e. News Corp’s) space. The users can pack up and leave any time they want — that’s what happens when you don’t own the content.

Remember, it’s about the COMMUNITY, not the platform — MySpace boosters tend to conflate the two. Communities are about people, and the places for people to connect online are proliferating like rabbits.

While we’re on the topic of the NYT article, what’s up with the online articles not including in-line links? Instead, they list all the links in a sidebar titled “Related.”

Perhaps the Time doesn’t want to temp readers with the opportunity to link off the site — or maybe they just like annoying people by flouting the convention used by every other website on the planet.

The print edition is even worse — here’s where the sidebar with list of URLs would actually make sense, but instead there’s just a tiny note at the bottom: “Complete list of links at nytimes.com/business”

Based on the large number of people who arrived here by Googling “Publishing 2.0 blog,” I’d say most print readers have better ways of finding the references that interest them.

Oh, and it’s worth noting that a reference in the New York Times doesn’t drive nearly as much traffic as a top spot on Techmeme.

Comments (10 Responses so far)

  1. http://www.yearlykos.org/ http://www.slate.com/id/2143502/nav/tap1/ MySpace? http://publishing2.com/2006/05/25/has-the-myspace-downturn-begun/ http://publishing2.com/2006/06/06/those-myspace-kids/http://publishing2.com/2006/06/04/myspace-is-your-space-not-their-space/ Lecture: User-Generated Media http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB114964368857673340.html http://www.buzzmachine.com/index.php/2006/06/07/dismissed/ RSS Readers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rss_reader

  2. Yeah, but I’d guess the New York Times traffic is worth more in the abstract. It’s probably one of the few times where the “numbers aren’t everything” chestnut isn’t patronizing.

  3. What’s even more sobering is that even TechMeme’s traffic-driving prowess is barely measureable.

    I’ve been featured in the NYT and it drove about 250 visitors to Mike Industries. I’ve also been on the front page of TechMeme for almost an entire day and it drove about 400 visits. Then, I make the front page of Digg and it’s like 20,000. And Slashdot, more like 70,000. Mainstream America is just so much less apt to flock to web properties on a moment’s notice than the geekerati. On the negative side, it makes me think that techies are still much quicker to learn about new things than mainstream America, but on the positive side, it makes me think that we are only beginning to scratch the surface of peer influence on the web.

  4. Spot on post Scott, except for one thing – MySpace isn’t the granddaddy of user generated content. That would be Geocities. MySpace is just the iteration in vogue (and now falling out of it apparently).

  5. Meant to send congrats on the NYT appearance, Scott — although as you know I would never suggest that appearing in the “old” media somehow validates what you’re doing in the “new” :-) Still, nice props nonetheless. And at least people can read what you have to say in the NYT piece, unlike all the columnists at the paper who exist only behind the stupid pay wall.

  6. I didn’t even notice the sidebar with links in the online article but I noticed they didn’t link to anybody in the article. Tech coverage in the Times is so consistently annoying. I mainly check for it to see what its readers are seeing.

  7. [...] My favorite doomsday dude gets mentioned in the NYTimes talking about…MySpace. Cool mention Scott! [...]

  8. Oh, and it’s worth noting that a reference in the New York Times doesn’t drive nearly as much traffic as a top spot on Techmeme.

    I found that a reference on TechCrunch beat a spot on Techmeme by a considerable margin. The New York Times might be sobered to learn therefore that (anecdotally) the referrals heirarchy seems to go (1) TechCrunch (content written by Mike Arrington); TechMeme (an algorithm written by Gabe Riviera); (3) New York Times (350 full time reporters and 40 photographers, says Wikipedia, and that includes some of the most expensive columnists in the business).

  9. I agree with Mike: Techmeme traffic isn’t that heavy.

    It’s also worth noting, as I noted on Intermedia, that the New York Times does have somewhat of a history of killing tech memes. Bill Wasik, “creator” of flash mobs, credited the NYTimes with helping to kill off the fad in his essay on the subject for Harper’s.

  10. MySpace is definitely just a platform, but its funny how its creators will heavy into marketing engines and creative advertising schemes.

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