I really need to launch a journal just of links - I see so many interesting sites that I want to share, but it's really not worth writing a full entry on. At one point, I considered aggregating my links daily and putting up a post, but that's too much work. (Can you see the little gears in my head creaking forth a new feature for Tabulas?). I'll make an exception today though; I were to accidentally die tomorrow from some freak gasoline fight accident, I wouldn't want my last post to be Facebook-related.

Why did Friendster fail and MySpace succeed is excellent writing that should be a must-read for anybody who wants to build a social networking business. At one point in time, I used to consider a series of fragmented different sites that each served its purpose well to be a smart business plan. You have a site that handles photos (Flickr perhaps), a site that handles your blogging (TypePad), a site that handles your links (Delicious) ... and now I think that's absolutely rubbish. It was idealistic of me to expect that the proliferation of open standards and APIs would let this all mesh together well ... there are inklings that we're reaching a "golden age" of programming where less tech-savvy people can "plug and play" different modules together, but I think this is at least 4-5 years off. People want to play, connect, and network right now.

I think MySpace has shown us that it's far better to do a lot of things in a mediocre fashion than do a few things well. People want a digital playground without the hassle of dealing with multiple sites. This goes back to my theory that success in the business world is doing something that's "just good enough," which is why I commented that Google's Finance was a lot better than its other launchings in a business sense. A lot of the expansive features that are going into Tabulas won't compare well to Flickr, Delicious, or TypePad when viewed individually - but when you can give people one location to do everything at once... I do think there is incredible value in that.

In a sense, it's about building a platform. I want Tabulas to serve as your digital repository for anything web-related you do - blogging, image hosting, media hosting, link sharing, contacting friends. Tabulas' differs from other social networking sites in the sense that it tries to provide a long-term value (although nobody may realize it) to the user. MySpace is a great buy cause you can leverage that brand into other News Corp. holdings and generate value - Tabulas as a standalone product cannot take advantage of that vertical integration ... and must learn to make its money in some other way. I want it to make money by being a platform (whether this succeeds is another story).

A few issues I have with the danah boyd article though:

danah boyd says: "It is not about technological perfection" and generally makes an argument that people become more invested in a harder-to-use product (cognitive dissonance at work, baby!). Although I think this is definitely true for younger demographics, the argument doesn't run parallel with my personal experiences as of late, and everything I've been learning at my job and what I've been hearing from people.

My experience is that right now, people want stuff to just work. People are generally curious creatures and want to learn how to use their tools effectively. The web's been a horrible medium for UI development because of all the different practices that have been going into place - and because of this, less tech-savvy people fear change.

Hotmail's success was not in that it was a great product - it simply was the only product at the time. Friendster is similar in this method - it was the first mover in a huge market. I don't see MySpace's success as being a product of any strategic planning or superior offering - Friendster lost more than MySpace won. It amazes me how much crap people are willing to take from their computer applications - it's like they expect them to fail. I was messaging with someone today about comment spam on their blog; I apologized for the comment spam, and he was curious as to why I had apologized. I explained to him that anytime a computer program fails to live up to how it should act, that's a clear failure. This logic, to me, applies to the user interface, usability, features ... everything.

There is a Gmail of social networking tools sitting on the horizon. Facebook's starting to get their game together, and it could very well be them, except for the fact that they're a niche market. The world doesn't revolve around 18-24 year olds. It revolves around people much, much older. To provide a tool to them that is truly useful and allows them to connect ... I think that is the next big thing.

Posted by roy on March 23, 2006 at 01:57 AM in Ramblings, Tabulas | 4 Comments

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Comment posted on March 23rd, 2006 at 08:40 AM
just need to agree... google finance makes my research so much easier. what used to take me 10-15 minutes a day is now at 5.
Comment posted on March 23rd, 2006 at 08:08 AM
I don't think facebook will be that stupid though. Like the haiphong said, they're expanding down. My brother and his highschooler friends are all over facebook everyday. They're next obvious step is to hit up post graduate professionals, and maybe integrate some type of job search thing. I still don't understand why you despise facebook so much sir.
Comment posted on March 23rd, 2006 at 07:58 AM
Facebook seems to thinkt he opposite, with them first expanding down to the highschool level.

I agree that the money isn't at the younger end of the spectrum, but I do believe that the McDonalds/Cigarette company strategy of 'hook'em while they're young' may have some merit. It is hard to see how that may work out in an age where technology changes so quickly though.
Comment posted on March 23rd, 2006 at 07:45 AM
YES!!! It sux that I am too old for Facebook! Makes me want to apply to grad school just for the EDU e-mail! ^^