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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Orkut vs. Myspace

Corey Ward, an e-Entrepreneur, was ranting and raving about the possibility of Orkut overtaking Myspace as the reining social network. After reading his post and doing a bit of digging of my own I think he may be onto something, its just not what he thinks. Corey points out that Orkut's Alexa ranking is looking pretty good relative to flat Myspace ranking. While this is a very interesting observation (good catch Corey) its not the whole story.

In order to better understand the relationship between Orkut and Myspace I rechecked their Alexa rankings and threw in the rankings of 3 other social networking sites to add some context and contrast. The first thing that jumped out at me was how relatively flat (red) was compared to Orkut (blue). Even more surprising was how was being eclipsed by YouTube (green). Of course the 2 billion dollar boys at Facebook look like a really poor purchase decision given their flat Alexa ranking, which is surprisingly smaller then that of the perpetually moribund Friendster.

The daily traffic trends, as reported by Alexa, also seems to point in the direction of failing fortunes for Myspace, as more Alexa users users move towards platforms more tailored to their interest. Either that or Myspace has reached the peak of its faddish following and will now slowly decline into Boo styled obscurity. Note that both YouTube and Orkut continue to growth in traffic as Myspace, Facebook and Friendster remain flat in the six month period Alexa is showing. Given all the press attention around YouTube in the last few months it isnt surprising that they are growing but whats driving Orkuts growth? To get a better handle on what might be fueling Orkuts rise I checked out Google Trends to see how it would match-up with Alexa.

And survey says... Google pretty much agrees with Alexa on this one. The top three in terms of search volume are Myspace, Youtube and Orkut. While the general interest in Orkut, from a search perspective, isnt as great as that of Youtube or Myspace thats to be expected. It also looks like there is flattening in Myspace searches which, given its ubiquitous media presence should be expected. Whats really interesting here is the region data that Google Trends provides. You'll note that Myspace dominates US and UK searches but doesnt even chart internationally. While Orkut, occupies mind-share in Brazil (pop. 180 million), Pakistan (pop. 170 million) and India (pop. 1 billion). Facebook and Friendster are pretty much irrelevant from an international perspective and dont seem to be making any in-roads in this areas, at least as reflected by Google and Alexa.

So anticipating demographic shifts in the US and growth of Internet usage internationally which business would you rather put money on today? The business thats US centric, has flat domestic growth, media saturation and little to no international appeal but a mature marketplace with revenues visibility and cash-out options. Or the business with an international base, expanding audience, large but immature markets and little competition. Suffice it to say that Google got one such business over 2 years ago at the cost of an engineers salary and Yahoo is pursuing getting the other type for somewhere north of 1 billion dollars.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I was looking through the traffic stats on the site a couple of weeks ago when I noticed something interesting. It seems that more then 2/3 of you, my readers, never actually visit the site. This discovery was a bit of a shock. Who knew that the reason most of you visited this site wasnt for my thoughtful graphic selections (ie random stuff I find with Google images) and arduously designed webpages (default theme #31). The vast majority of you are reading this right now are probably doing it via an RSS reader. Even more supprising is the choice of RSS reader that most to you use to access the witty prose, bitting commentary and BGO's (Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious) that I provide on a fairly random and inconsistent basis. The RSS reader of choice of you my amazingly advancced audienced is from a little known and recenly funded company called Netvibes.

More readers see this site through Netvibe then Bloglines, Newsgator, Thunderbird, NetNewsWire, browers "livemarks", BlogPulse and Google combined. Netvibes is one of several new web applications that function as a universal homepage, a single place where you can access and view news, information and media from a bunch of different websites. Think of it as an RSS reader on steriods, or as NetVibes states in its tag line, "near universal mashup" which is exactly what it does better then any of the alternatives and there are lots of them. I perfer Google's version of the universal start page and a whopping 2% of you are with me in this choice.


I've liked the idea of customization of start pages for

When I started to write this blog it was purely for my own edification. I needed a place to get my thoughts out, play with some ideas, highlight excellence and generally be contrian. I didnt really promote it but for some reason, you started to reading my mental babblings. Some of you even commented and helped push my ideas forward.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Vlogs may never replace watching TV and newspapers may not buckle under the weight of the blogs, but as the abyss of choice gets deeper, the move away from main stream media (MSM) as the primary content source will only accelerate. The collective output of erstwhile media consumers on blogs, vlogs, social bookmarking and photo sharing sites along with a host of new online services (collectively known as US Media) will in the next 5 years replace MSM as the dominant media form. Thats right I said it, in 5 years only aging boomers, people that believe the Fox News is news and the Buba's in the "fly over states", will use MSM as their primary source for news and entertainment. US Media is vastly superior to MSM in 5 key ways, none of which MSM believes are critical, and its along these axises that US Media will destroy MSM.

1) Wisdom of Individuals

There are roughly 6 billion people on the planet, most of whom are varying degrees of funny, stupid, ignorant, succinct, kind, gentle, creative, boorish, luddite, insightful and verbose. MSM tends to provide a voice to a very narrow band of the available spectrum, marginalizing all other voices with claims of quality, professionalism and relevance. US Media smashes this myth and opens the spectrum to a much wider array of voices, not just the neatly coiffed, well sanitized "quality product" churned out by MSM. The droll, messy, academic, inaccurate, incisive, pedestrian, scintillating and down right naughty media created by all of us is highly variable in quality and thus increasing the probability of really great as well as really awful products. Its this increase variability that MSM seeks to squash and one of the main reasons US Media will replace MSM within the next 5 years. From the sage musings of Ze Frank to the celebrity skewering at YBF, US Media reflects the full spectrum of human genius and idiocy, MSM is constrained to aping a mediocre professionalism.

2) Wisdom of Crowds
Home reddit
When it comes to taping into the meme of the masses, or the meme of the mob, Us Media wins hands down. While MSM needs surveys, polls, focus groups and outright guessing to get a sense of the cultural temperature, US Media is a reflection of that temperature, with the exception of those marginalized by a lack of technology and education (ie the poor, disabled, undocumented etc...). The question at the core of US Media is "What do we think?", as opposed to the question at the core of MSM which is "What should they think?" US Media excels at reflecting, highlighting and harnessing the wisdom of crowds while MSM is relegated to attempting to shape it. Services like Technorati, OurMedia, NowPublic, Reddit and Digg are all geared towards harnessing the wisdom of crowds while MSM is left attempting to aggregate them.

3) Tendency to be Subversive

Where MSM has a tendency to be conformist, US Media has a tendency to be subversive. Using language and methods deemed, inappropriate, unacceptable or undesirable by MSM, US Media introduces a cacophony of voices into what was previously a monolithic one-way conversation. All that MSM couldn't, wouldn't or thinks shouldn't be said is the fodder US Media uses to grow. Whether its offering questions about the veracity of the events surrounding 9/11 or simply reconfiguring the role of consumers in the physical media equation, US Media tends to undermine MSM norms. Every question left unasked, every story left untold, every lie of ommision or commission by MSM hastens its decline into marginalization and irrelevance.

4) Tendency to be Self-critical

When the tension between the wisdom of crowds and the wisdom individuals is combined with a tendency towards subversion, its makes for a highly self-critical medium. This is the cross that US Media must bear. There are virtually no collective trends or memes that go unchallenged within US Media, and unlike MSM, challengers are on an almost equal footing with the original trend/meme. Wikipedia, YouTube, RocketBoom, Friendster, Myspace, they have all come under sharp critique. Some held fast, some withered, some changed and some kept it moving but they have all met, and continue to meet, the kinds of internal critisms that are simply not present in MSM.

5) We are the Answers
I was trying to think of the right way to phrase the last MSM killer and after a lot of dillerberation (ie staring blanking at the computer screen) it struck me, US Media is the answer to most of the questions MSM is asking right now.
-"How will people consume media in 5 years?"
-"Will they simply watch it or will they use it as part of some other product?"
-"How will bittorrent effect not just what people what but how they watch?"
-What will they pay for and how much will they pay?"
These are all key questions facing the media business and the "they" in these questions is us. US Media whether its original, derivative or appropriated content is the future form of media. The more we do any of these activities the quicker the demise of MSM will come.

The openness of US Media defines its existence but also shapes it form.

USM, User Socialized Media, Universal Social Media, User Submitted Media

Friday, July 07, 2006

In the bowels of every media company on the planet there is a small group of ex-consultants, ex-bankers, corporate rejects and web 1.0 flame-outs, cooking up plans for Internet domination. Inevitably, one of the "innovators" in the group will "discover" a brand new phenomena sweeping the Internet called blogging and come up with the exciting idea of creating a network of blogs. They'll sneer at the start-up competition and list all the resources and value they can add to a bloggers site. From a war chest full of money to a huge promotional budgets, they'll map out how much money they'll rake in selling ads or charging subscriptions to their massively popular walled gardens of creative goodness. Oh how very wrong they are.

Dianasours Herding Cats
This weeks very public blow-up between Vlog vixen Amanda Cogdon and Andrew "I got 51%" Baron highlights a glaring issue media companies will have to face in a world where consumers control their media experiences. Failure is fully public. Any media company cooking up plans to get into the UGC space needs to remember this.

While corporations are sometimes pretty good at churning out products but generally suck at building relationships. Taking public criticisms from a disgruntled blogger who's site and audience weren't large enough to meet the corporate profit requirements but are vocal enough for the press to take note, would be a corporate nightmare. Trying to engage that same blogger in a public debate using corporate rationale of profitability margins and IRR is the only losing strategy the corporations have.