Evolution: Friendster up for sale

Friendster may be up for sale, but where do these sites site in the evolutionary path of social networks?

TechCrunch has the Exclusive:

Friendster, one of the oldest social networks, is actively looking for a buyer and has hired investment bank Morgan Stanley to find a party interested in acquiring the company or at least some of its assets.   Friendster

According to documents obtained exclusively by TechCrunch, it looks like Morgan Stanley is shopping Friendster around in Asia, which makes sense considering almost its entire user base is located in the Asian-Pacific region. In the main document (embedded below), it says that 75 percent of its registered accounts are in Asia. The docs come from a credible source, are time-stamped ‘July 2009′ and carry a number of interesting nuggets about the influence Friendster still has in the social networking sphere, even if mostly in Asia.

When you compare social networks such as MySpace with Facebook with Friendster it’s important to see the differences, not the similarities. So for example, Facebook is a distribution network, with gated communities but doesn’t offer the average user the ability to build a broadcast network of 300,000 friends.  MySpace is a publishing network with broadcast channels, but no inbuilt audience.

And while you are comparing them, think about evolution.

  1. We started by creating content, in depth, videos and photos and blog articles. But we didn’t have a distribution channel. SEO helped, emailing friends helped, linking to other bloggers hoping they would find us that way and read our blog and link to us helped. Anything depth of content sits here – YouTube videos, MySpace blogs, Flickr photos, and so on. There is still a place for depth of content sites.
  2. Then came Facebook, the distribution network. We could post links to our blog there, and it would appear in newsfeeds. Digg, Delicious, others are distribution not content channels. You don’t blog on Digg, you point to a blog. Distribution networks are important for aggregating people around a Value or Purpose, and then feeding them media links.
  3. Then Twitter. We move from asynchronous, delayed communications to synchronous, live communication. And distributed – Australia forgets that for the rest of the world, Twitter is primarily a mobile service. Real time conversations are critical for developing an understanding of current thinking. Trending topics is a classic… who doesn’t monitor those for latest news?

So where does Friendster sit in this evolutionary path of social networks? Depends on where they take it next I guess. I still think there is a bridge between Asia and the West. If not Cyworld, if not Friendster, which network?

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  1. Twitter is fast, but not synchronous. The speed of response is independent of whether it’s a synchronous service. Video conference is synchronous, Twitter is asynchronous.


    Digg and Reddit (though not delicious) have become content channels a la Slashdot / Kuro5hin, in that the comments are often of equal if not higher value than the linked-to articles.

    The bulk of link posts to Reddit and Digg are SEO spam to generate backlinks, the value is in the conversation on approved posts. Treating them as distribution networks instead of conversational communities is a category error.
    .-= barry´s last blog ..Short thoughts: online advertising =-.

    1. All the world is content. Watching a sunset is content, so is air we breathe and food we eat. I just don’t find it useful at a media level to call everything “content.
      Therefore depth of content – videos, photos, articles – are CONTENT. Links and FFFF (Find Filter Forward) are DISTRIBUTION. Comments and votes are CONVERSATION. By splitting generic content into 3 we can have more meaningful discussions about how services differ.

      By the way Facebook are offering a blogging tool now in “Notes”. It’s still your gated community that sees that blog post, no chance to build a large audience for the normal user, no?

      Feel free to come up with a different term for Depth of Content (content created in isolation, presented usually as a finished product, awaiting comments and critique). We usually differentiate between 1. the film we saw, 2. the distribution outlet or cinema and 3. the discussion afterwards tho all three add to the “experiential content”.

      1. I’m just saying, Digg and Reddit are conversation, not FFF. When a single photo post generates an erudite, literate 10 page thread, it’s obvious that the point of interest is the conversation, not the image.

        I think the issue is that you’re viewing this through the prism of a person who wants to build a mass audience.

        The bulk of people on facebook, reddit, digg and so forth want to have a conversation, not give a lecture. I hate to say it, but you’re analysing this from a heritage media mindset.

        Watching a sunset is content? I don’t even know where to begin with that.
        .-= barry´s last blog ..Short thoughts: online advertising =-.

        1. hmmm I teach people how to understand communities, their rituals, the influencers and behaviours unique to each community – and yes the same vocal minority make the same comments on the social media sites. But in terms of reach, exposure and velocity on Digg, on Reddit and even on Delicious, the majority are still silent.

          Digg is fascinating for the conversation around the content – Citizen Editors discussing whether it should be front page or not. But ultimately a huge HUGE number of people just bookmark stuff, get 3 diggs and zero comments. It cannot be compared to true review sites where a higher percentage forward reviews as well as the original source.

          You are looking at the service and how you use it, not how the majority use it. Run the numbers again…

          1. as i said earlier:

            The bulk of link posts to Reddit and Digg are SEO spam to generate backlinks, the value is in the conversation on approved posts.

            The bulk of any service is spam. That’s not where the value is. Writing off the spam, you get a community that’s made up of a few loud self-promoters (a la Zaibatsu), an active community of commenters and engaged users, and then the lurkers.

            As you noted, When you compare social networks such as MySpace with Facebook with Friendster it’s important to see the differences, not the similarities.

            Anyone can create a link list, and there are a million of those out there. The value is in the difference, which for Digg and Reddit is the active, engaged community of commenters.
            .-= barry´s last blog ..Short thoughts: online advertising =-.

    2. Forgot to mention: In social networking terms, we use “asynch” and “synch” in a less-technical way. Instant messaging, chat channels, in world chat are synch. Blogs, youtube, wikis are considered “asynch”.

      Hence the move from created-in-isolation content to real-live interaction. Whether that delay ever gets down to zero will be interesting.

      1. who’s we? Some of us who work in the field like to use terms accurately. You must differentiate technical features from affordances.

        Twitter allows rapid, pseudo-synchronous communication. It is still asynchronous. Email also allows pseudo-synchronous communication, it just happens that pseudo-synchronous communication never took off as common mode of usage.
        .-= barry´s last blog ..Short thoughts: online advertising =-.

        1. As an ex-senior telecommunications engineer (I set up TAC and NOC for UUNET in Europe) I completely concur on your technical telco use of asynch.sync.

          Only this is social networking speak, not telecommunications.
          Try Wagner, C. (2005). Supporting knowledge management in organizations with conversational technologies: Discussion forums, weblogs, and wikis. Journal of Database Management, 16(2), i‑viii. Retrieved October 25, 2005, from Business & Company Resource Center database as a base study on asynch/synch communications through social media sites.

          Some of the derivative studies show charts of instant vs delayed communication streams in online communities.

          Barry, I’m not going to footnote everything I say in comments. It’s not appropriate, but I’m happy for people to ask -politely – for links to back up claims. K hon?

          1. If you can point out an established canon for social networking studies, I’ll agree with you on that point. As there isn’t, it’s probably best to avoid claiming uncommon usage of technical terms as common usage within a field. One academic article does not an accepted usage make.
            .-= barry´s last blog ..Short thoughts: online advertising =-.

  2. … Wagner is not an established canon? o.O

    Ah well. Maybe you mean populist? GigaOm popular enough for you.
    http://gigaom.com/2007/10/29/meebo-20/ <-- Instant messaging as synchronous communication. You could try searching Google for "synchronous communication in social networks" or even this blog - I've done heaps of posts on it in the last 5 or so years.

    1. no, i don’t mean populist. There’s a lot of academic work about *produsage* in social networking studies, that doesn’t make it accepted use by everyone.

      I’m not saying you shouldn’t use it. I’m just annoyed when you say in social networking terms, we use “asynch” and “synch” in a less-technical way when that’s simply not always the case. Some of us may, many of us don’t.

      aaaanyway… I’ve got some site stats to run. You’ve piqued my interest on the reddit stats, I’m interested to see the spammer : active user ration.
      .-= barry´s last blog ..Short thoughts: online advertising =-.

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