Bob at Tech Consumer is noting the recent article in the Economist suggesting that Social Networks are about to dethrone “sex” as the top item of internet interest. The interesting graph notes that where sex stuff is becoming a smaller fraction of the total internet searches, social networking items are moving higher and higher.
In one sense this is a bit misleading. One of the key drivers of social networking is “dating” and meeting people, so it’s fair to say that what we might call “primal urges” are still the top search theme online. But it’s probably encouraging that the porn economy is growing *less fast* than the social online economy, which continues to explode. (Porn segment is growing but not as fast as the social economy segment of online traffic – and also probably economic – activity).
What’s going on with this? It’s really not surprising at all that socializing online is a very powerful part of the online experience. The internet is about people more than it’s about technology, and people tend to be very interested in …. other people.
Myspace has become such a dominant player that the launch of Myspace News was a big story in the blogosphere. Ironically you could hardly find it at Myspace and it just took me a few minutes and Pete Cashmore’s Mashable.com links to find the darn thing. I agree with Pete that it currently is not very inspired, but has simply enormous potential to dethrone DIGG as the key hip news site.
Myspace is probably rolling this out slowly so they can manage the new traffic routing and bandwidth issues that will come up. I remember at MIX06 where the Myspace CTO showed some slides indicating CPU usage on their server farm. When they implemented the more efficient (Microsoft?!) architecture the CPU usage dropped dramatically. The key point though was how for a huge site things like power, bandwidth, and CPU use become a big deal with every change.
I remain concerned that most of the news stories that are ranked and generated socially primarily appeal to prurient, adolescent, and technology interests rather than the deep and provocative intellectual stuff you’d get on, say, Charlie Rose. But it’s our free wheeling superficiality that makes America great (or at least makes us more fun than Finland), right?