The Gorillas and Chimps of the Social Networking Scene

Over on the New York Times, an arti­cle about a new Nickolodeon-created web­site for parents

now in the final stages of beta testing. 

In a non­pub­lic test of the site over the sum­mer by about
1,000 recruit­ed par­tic­i­pants, exec­u­tives learned that these users
want­ed to blog; now, every user with a pro­file can, Ms. Rep­pen said.
Through the beta test, which is now open to new mem­bers, Nick is
learn­ing that par­ents want spaces to sell their crafts, a separate
Chris­t­ian home-schooling dis­cus­sion and big­ger type on the Web site.
Local dis­cus­sion boards will also be added, as will user-generated
video.

They also quote a Nis­san mar­ket­ing exec­u­tive, who says that
“com­mu­ni­ty sites are one of the big phe­nom­e­non hap­pen­ing on line this
year.”

There is a big shift going on.

It’s star­tling to real­ize that my three year tod­dler is almost the same age as Myspace and old­er than Face­book.
In just a few short years they’ve come to dom­i­nate much of the online
world, espe­cial­ly with under-25 users. The kind of inde­pen­dent blogs
that dom­i­nate a sites like Live­jour­nal and Blogspot don’t have the web
of cross-connections – what I called the “folk­so­nom­ic den­si­ty” – of the new
social net­work­ing sites. It seems appro­pri­ate that Myspace was found­ed by spam­mers: who knows more about suck­ing peo­ple in?

The ques­tion: will the net have room for inde­pen­dent niche sites?
Myspace is chang­ing its archi­tec­ture to dis­able key link­ing fea­tures of
third-party embed­ded plug-ins like the from the pop­u­lar video site Youtube. The big search sites also want a piece of this mar­ket – new fea­tures on Yahoo local and the geo­t­agged maps
on Yahoo’s Flickr are impres­sive). It all reminds me some of the
debates about local food co-ops ver­sus enlight­ened super­mar­kets: is it
a good thing that organ­ic pro­duce and soymilk can be pur­chased at the
local Acme, even if that cuts into the inde­pen­dent co-op’s business?
Don’t we want every­one to have access to every­thing? In the end,
phi­los­o­phy won’t set­tle this argument.

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