An article in the Guardian about MySpace…

05/07/2005

There was an article in the Guardian about a week ago about MySpace that quoted me and I completely forgot to point it out to everyone. If I don’t continue to point out what large national papers say about me then people will stop believing the hype! I find this unacceptable:

Social software expert Tom Coates says: “MySpace has demonstrated effectively that if you give people things to do with their friends online, then that is significantly [more] compelling than just having software that organises who your friends are. Teenagers and young people tend to use a lot more pop culture stuff to describe themselves, it’s a lot more important to their identity.”

It’s really nice to be called a Social Software expert again – particularly after slightly losing my identity inside the monstrous belly of the BBC. I have felt a bit disconnected from the social software community over the last year or so in that while I feel I still have as much to say, I never really get the chance to express it in public. And that makes you invisible and eventually redundant. I’m going to have to try and spend a little more time engaging in the debates of the day from now on, I think.

Anyway, enough about me. The article itself – about MySpace – mostly talks about how impressive the take-up of MySpace has been. It’s worth balancing that enormous take-up with how little the service has been talked about in geek circles. I don’t know whether it’s because it’s not particularly innovative, but this huge behemoth service has seemingly sprung from nowhere and yet it’s almost invisible to the social software crowd. I guess there’s a lesson here about how you don’t get rich by just following the geek next-big-thing. MySpace is now enormously larger than Friendster and more successful – it’s one of the most trafficked sites on the web in fact. It’s done well by subtly altering the parameters of a previous idea and aiming it at the right market. It’s kind of the same approach that Microsoft have taken with their Spaces project – and it’s all aimed at people completely distinct from the community in which we operate. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that there’s money in the recently-cool – that’s the space that most industries make their money in. (Danah’s also recently been thinking about MySpace a bit).