To me the purchase MyBlogLog by Yahoo is a sign of ‘irrational exuberance‘ similar to that of the late 90s tech bubble. I really question the validity of MyBlogLog and some of the other ‘social networking’ sites.
Is MyBlogLog providing real value? It’s a site that let’s people stoke their egos and try to garner more users for their own sites. I notice that my community grows as a direct result of my usage. For example, if I start viewing others’ blogs within MyBlogLog, I inevitably get a corresponding view from the owners of those blogs. As I add people to my community, my own community grows as a result of receiving a return add. But when I stop using MyBlogLog for a period of time, my new connections and views drop drastically as well. I often get requests for adds from people who view my profile claiming me as a connection but review of their trail shows that the vast majority don’t even go to my blog site, making their reasons questionable.
The vast majority of users of MyBlogLog are just bloggers trying to expand their readership. They figure that by linking people, they’ll get viewers to their site as well, and if they have compelling content, those readers will stick. It’s the digital equivalent of the … if you have the time and patience to keep viewing other’s sites, you might be able to continue to get new readers without compelling content, but otherwise most readers are just going to drift away. so how valid is your neighbourhood in MyBlogLog then?
The reality is that MyBlogLog is similar to a lot of the other social networking sites – I agree with Christopher Koch on this. Sure social networks are fun, but are people really going to pay significant amounts on them? The emphasis is on setting up friendships and the hope is that hopefully there will be a way to make money from them later – anyone remember Geocities, PlanetAll, or Sixdegrees from Web1.0? – they didn’t survive on the build a friends community model either.
Perhaps if MyBlogLog is able to commodotize users for ads and consumer trends, as Nicholas Carr points out, there is some value. But similar to a lot of the Web1.0 businesses, a lot of these sites are surviving because they are all collaborating with each using borrowed or ventured funds and trying to get ‘critical mass’ – remember when that term was all the rage?. Where is the real influx of capital though? What happens when ad spending contract and businesses realize that the consumer trends are not real indicators of the users? Where are the revs going to come from?
There are definitely network sites which are valuable – LinkedIn for example. The difference with that though, is that they did not emphasis ‘social’ – lets face it, 90% of the people you socialize with in real life, you have no urgency to ever meet again. LinkedIn on the otherhand emphasised the quality of the relationships that you build. Thus, when services are provided to me, I know that they are going to come through quality connections, thus not only do I trust using the site, I have a greater incentive to keep my info upto date as well. Friendships are not the emphasis.
While I like MyBlogLog (I’ve actually figured out how to add their avatars to comments in my blog), I think the usage paradigm is wrong. Right now, most use it as a tool to aggregate readers into a ‘community’ – but there is no real incentive for me to use it for my reading or for usages valuable to me. If MyBlogLog could get me to come to their site to search through my existing site links when looking for information, then there is value in that. MyBlogLog has actually stated they are trying to move to that. but since half the sites on existing users’ lists are bogus links, a search wouldn’t be much better than just using Google. Despite what Pete Cashmore at Mashable says, it wasn’t that hard to join the Mashable community on MyBlogLog 😉
I’m a huge Yahoo fan, so I’m hoping that this purchase turns out to be a wise one, but I have an incling that the ideas that MyBlogLog has brought to the table may get implemented by another player with a different model on developing connections – remember: its about quality not quantity.
Update Feb 09 2007: FL makes a good point about First not equaling best. I think it applies here to MyBlogLog. I think they got some great stuff, but i’m not sure it is the best yet…