My personal opinion is that the reason that myspace.com succeeds while all similiar services languish is due primarily to the fact that the site provides virtually unlimited amounts of outbound links/<HTML> markup. Almost without exception (especially large, corporate controlled sites, which tend to bring a heavy editorial hand) the majority of 'social sites' place ridiculous restrictions on what kinds of <HTML> markup is allowed in user-defined spaces. By experimentation, my results:
- Blogger.com: unusually open and free of controls. Does not allow <SCRIPT> in posts, otherwise free. Because of this, and due to full control over the template code, blogger is unusually powerful and useful.
- dotMac: due to the client side iApp emphasis and support of WebDAV, dotMac is highly open and customizable. Here's my dotMac/blogger mashup.
- myspace.com: as much customization as fits in to CSS and EMBED and TEXTAREA. Unlimited outbound A/HREF and IMG tags. Here's myspacexperiment. The way that music is shared on myspace is another very cool feature.
- Flickr: cross-links to other flickr pages, restrictions on how user-controlled markup is rendered on outer pages.
- youtube.com: no outbound links. Limited markup. Notes are cool. Flash? Hmmm.
- Amazon.com: closed system. Essentially a 'sink' for inbound links. AFAIK, only one outbound link per user profile is provided. Haven't tried the wiki feature yet.
- livejournal.com: probably as good as blogger if you're a pro user. Unfortunately, I was a pro user for over a year, and didn't realize it, because my pro purchase transaction failed in the middle, and I failed to realize it had succeeded, and livejournal.com failed to notify me that I had succeeded, but succeeded in notifying me that my year subscription had lapsed.
- Yahoo!: with about a bazillion services, who can summarize? Yahoo could have owned this world by leveraging geocities.com, but they fell prey to the 'poverty mindset': limiting bandwidth, limiting web pages, and plastering user sites with ads. Now geocities is basically a dead zone of link rot. Yahoo!360, of course, features the ultimate in professionally designed web stylings, and, as far as I can tell, almost no users.
- orkut.com: allows outbound links, but limited visual customization. orkut is over.
The other aspect of myspace which makes it so appealing is that the overall corporate design is so horrible that the standard profile page simply begs to be improved and personalized. And personalization is what invests the members of the community in the site itself.
It just goes to show that even if you have nearly infinite amounts of startup capital to apply to a problem
, it really don't matter one bit.
myspace.com - a place for adds and a place for ads.
As to whether myspace.com succeeds as a place to socialize, that will need to wait for a later post.
1989: - first use of CompuServe 'community' messaging and hypertext markup (rtf/WinHelp).
I covered some of these ideas earlier in a post about Wikipedia vs. Amazon