Sunday, September 24, 2006

Examples of the future of social spaces

Some links following on from my post about the future of media-networking servcies:

- David Wilcox: "Social networking gets political". Given that UK democracy is essentially a competitive, attention-seeking system, I think that much of the same arguments about attention, branding and their integration with provision of service are applicable in a political context too. Do the Tories want to provide a social service to discuss their policies, or to appear as a "trendy" service provider? Will Labour warp into an ISP?

- New Statesman: "The battle for YouTube" outlines a possible YouTube future:

...insiders at MTV say that close thought has been given to how the content and format of YouTube should be altered in the event of a takeover. Users will be allowed to continue generating the content, but the company is determined to "raise the bar" for quality of material and the way it is presented. They will want to find corporate sponsors, even if at present much of the unedited footage on YouTube includes people sitting on the toilet (would Estée Lauder be keen on that?). The anarchy of the site will be organised into new "mini-channels", regulated by the new owners, but still allowing the wacky content providers in.

(Also interesting is the "Listen" functionality on the New Statesman article, vaguely.)


Ben said...

If the MTV inside story is correct then it sounds as if they get almost nothing about what is good about youtube. The concept of channels seems total anathema to the microviral nature of youtube.

But, in the end who cares, surely everyone will just move on to the next video hosting site?

Scribe said...

Or, rather, everyone will be scattered amongst the four winds of the "new" media landscape. Network externalities - the ability for an otherwise small-scale player to attract a large audience - depend a lot, I think, on novelty. That is, it's easier to attract people socially/virally if the service is doing something none of them have seen before.

When the existing front runner drops out - or "worse", evolves - then you'll get some people staying with it, others looking around, but all wanting slightly different things now that they've experienced the first attempt.

In other words, novelty itself creates community. Sure, Flickr has lots of groups and stuff, but part of the fun is that everyone's partaking in a new way of handling content. The community assembles around novelty, not around brand names or other kinds of reward.

The "next" video hosting site won't have the same "social impact" as YouTube. Some people will start up their own, but the big corporate players are already around, and are looking to scoop up as many milling punters as they can. YouTube will become a memory of what can grow, but the landscape will have changed too much to replace it totally.

Hence, a much more disparate, much more 'owned' network of networks, none of which have both content freedom and an excitingly large userbase.