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21st Century Networks and Portals May 9, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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So Organic’s Mark Kingdon thinks social networks like MySpace, YouTube, and Facebook are 21st century networks. A la TV networks. I like the term, but I like “21st century portals” better, which is what I’m going to be working on next month. And no, Ian, in this case “portal” doesn’t mean “gateway,” it means “Yahoo.” That is, a collection of content, services and communications. (It’s not the Queen’s English; it’s jargon. Embrace the jargon.)

I think MySpace is the first 21st century portal. Yeah, not Google. MySpace. At least that’s the hypothesis.

Meanwhile, my old boss thinks it’s winner take all in social networks. I kinda doubt it. While these networks really are ripe for network effects (value increases with users, critical mass is required, big networks devalue competing networks – i.e., winner take all), there are also a lot of different natural networks. And socially, geographically, politically, hobby-interest-ly, etc., people can belong to multiple networks and derive different value from them. I might want to look for a job in LinkedIn, but I would rather rent an apartment via craigslist.

Raw social networking — that is, a database of six degrees of separation connections — is a feature, not a product. Jupiter has been saying that for some time. MySpace has the legs Friendster lost because it offers more than just the connection platform itself (and it offers something for network non-members: voyeurism). Friendster figured that out, but perhaps not fast enough.

So Kingdon goes on to say these new networks demand new agencies. Or at least new agency skills: buzz measurement-media planning, and content creating for these new experience networks. Okay, that makes sense. I think I’m more familiar with Organic’s experience-making than with its meme creator/propagator-tracking/optimizing. Tell me more.

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