Skip to content

Posts from the ‘social media’ Category

Cisco/Tribe, Ning, Reuters: Social Nets Everywhere!

March 5, 2007


It’s now official: social networks have surpassed online video and widgets as the latest craze (though video and widgets are still getting plenty of play, too).

From an investment point of view, I think I hit the timing on video pretty well (video started as an area of focus about 24 months ago, and now is waning since everyone and his brother is launching and/or funding a video startup), but truthfully it is less clear to me whether I am still early, or too late, for social networks and widgets…

Just in the last few days there’s been lots of social networking news.

Marc Andreesen’s startup Ning went live.  I think it is looking pretty slick.

In what can only be called a bizarre move, Cisco bought Tribe. Hunh?

Reuters is creating a social net for fund managers, traders and analysts.

The Sunday Times had a really good piece on social networks generally. Fred Wilson also has a good post up this morning on the same subject.

The most interesting nugget amongst all of the noise is the growing recognition that smaller social networks, formed around tighter communities of specific shared interests, are where the long term utility of social networks is likely to be found.

This is a thesis I’ve been noodling on, and discussing, alot lately, and figured large in the social networks discussion at the Polaris Digital Media Summit in January.

Getting theoretical for a minute, this is an interesting twist on Metcalfe’s Law.  (How often do you get to work with a partner who has a Law to his name??) Whereas Metcalfe originally postulated that the value of a communications network increased as the number of people connected to the network increased, it seems that in many instances the value of a social network actually decreases when it gets too big.  Or, at least, there needs to be some coefficient for the affinity between members added to the equation. Bob and I have  been riffing on this around the shop, and he had a fun post on the subject last summer.

To sum it up: social media, and social networking generally, is transitioning from bleeding edge/experimenation to cutting edge early adoption.  Though still in its early days, the opportunities are very real — and substantial.

Online Games/Virtual Worlds as “Third Place”

September 20, 2006


An idea that my partner Steve Arnold and I have been brewing for a while is the emerging opportunity for “virtual worlds.”

What the heck is a virtual world? Think MySpace meets World of Warcraft (or, in other words, a mix between a social network and a massively multiplayer online game, or MMOG).

The meteoric rise of social networks shows that a heck of a lot of people out there like to connect and commune online. And the MMOG phenomenon shows that there are some significant audiences out there who are willing to spend a ton of time immersed in online roleplaying games.

Where this seems to us to be pointing is the emergence of “virtual worlds” which on the one hand have the 3D representations of MMOGS,  but need not be “games” as typically conceived (ie, “men in tights” role playing/quest based games).  Rather they are online communities where people can interact in a much more graphically represented, real-world like environment than the static profiles of the current social networks.

A good example of this is Second Life.

“Tasty Research” has a good post on this, suggesting that MMOGs are, in effect, a “Third Place,” described as “somewhere besides home or work where people can socialize and feel comfortable.”

Who is Your Start Page?

September 15, 2006


One of the more interesting questions swirling around the entrepreneurial primordial soup that is Web 2.0 is what will emerge as your start page.

Seems to me that winning this contest will be a big deal.

I don’t think anyone yet knows how this will shake out.

The likely candidates at this point seem to be: your blog authoring tool; your social network; your web calendar/todolist/organizer (I like what 30boxes is doing); your webtop (netvibes, webwag, pageflakes).

Note who is not on the list: Windows/Explorer; Google; MyYahoo. Don’t think this needs explaining.

Who/what else am I missing?

Everything’s Coming Up Widgets

September 15, 2006


Om has a good read on the rise of widgets.

“Content Isn’t Worth a Damn…”

September 12, 2006


I was recently reading a speech given by acclaimed MMO designer Raph Koster (hat tip to GigaOm for highlighting this speech). Although Koster was addressing game designers, he made a great point which I think is eqally germane and instructive to social media and digital media executives more broadly:

“Content isn’t worth a damn. What is of value is the relationship between the consumer and the producer. Being good is no longer an exclusive. In a hit-driven business, the epitome of success is to be the Beatles or Elton John, which means having a consistent record of making blockbusters, or almost never screwing up, of always earning out reliably and of doing this over the course of decades. Those people are so rare they are the dodo, and their share of the audience as a percentage of the population is shrinking.

“The goal instead should be to be the Grateful Dead. You don’t want to be the number one hit, you want a relationship so that you can ding them over and over and over again. The band’s t-shirts may make more than their recordings.”

Required Reading: Jarvis on Metcalfe & Web 2.0

August 19, 2006


Jeff Jarvis has a great response to the discussion of Metcalfe’s Law & Web 2.0.

You absolutely should read it if you have any interest in all this stuff.

Guest Blogger Bob Metcalfe: Metcalfe’s Law Recurses Down the Long Tail of Social Networks

August 18, 2006


The blogosphere has started bubbling some interesting discussion of how Metcalfe’s Law applies to current Web 2.0 dynamics like social networking. Some IEEE types, Brad Feld, Niel Robertson, a PhD. student named Fred Stutzman, my partner Sim Simeonov, myself and a few others have posted on this in the last few weeks.

Bob Metcalfe, who invented the law in the first place and is my partner at Polaris (and who, along with Al Gore, invented the Internet…), offers his own view in a guest blog post below.

Read more

Enterprise 2.0

June 6, 2006


Here is a good article in Business Week on Web 2.0 and the enterprise.

Good Reading on Social Networks: “The Network Unbound”

May 31, 2006


Courtesy of Fast Company.  Read the article here.