Mixx versus Digg?

During weekends and holidays my favorite news site, TechMeme, gets wilder than usual because I think there are fewer news outlets posting stories and even the big tech blogs dry up on the weekend.   Even more wild are holidays, which may explain the odd top story today at TechMeme today about MIXX versus DIGG.

Mike over at TechCrunch is reporting that a lot of Digg users are heading over to the new social story tagging site called Mixx.     He notes that Digg users have become increasingly frustrated with the Digg communities and mini-scandals.   A quick Alexa take on Mixx did not really seem to support the idea that MIXX poses much threat right now to DIGG, though since MIXX is still in beta it’s possible MIXX is going to be a contender when it’s known to more people.  Mixx appears to have 150k-250k daily visits (per my rough Alexa extrapolation from approx 35k Alexa rank).     Given the up and down traffic pattern at MIXX though it’s not clear it’s “taking off”, rather than it’s setting in as one of the many DIGG “also rans” that have little chance of even catching the big DIGG.

The Social Network Reality Show: High stakes, big money, false rumors.

The game is social networks.  The stakes are very high, and the news and rumors are flying fast, furiously, and inaccurately.   Here is the latest in the saga of Google’s Social Networking entry which, with Myspace’s participation, is the new Social Networking juggernaut (though it remains to be seen how all the participants will use it). 

More on the Open Social vs Facebook battle for the hearts and minds of developers and, far more importantly, users:

1)  After a 240,000,000 partnership with Microsoft the blogs (including here) lit up soon after suggesting that Facebook recieved another 500 million from two other private groups.   This was false.   It is very conspicuous in my view that the rumor rose and spread so fast, and that Facebook did nothing to quell that rumor.  This news is still shaking out over at TechCrunch which reported the rumor of the 500 million and now reports it was false.   Another example of how news at the speed of real time may not be news at all.

2) Google says Open Social is open to Facebook and all are welcome (I believe them).

3) Facebook says Google was not keeping them in the loop on Open Social (I believe that as well)

4) Facebook says they may join the Open Social movement, but suggest they have their own great stuff coming shortly.    I’m skeptical they can “out open” Google, though they probably could come up with some great new social networking applications quickly.  

However on balance I think Facebook really is in big trouble here.     Much of the recent hype – which was overdone anyway – assumed that Facebook would be the key beneficiary of the boom in social networking.   The reasoning suggested that although Myspace is  bigger than Facebook it was a “closed” environment, favored by a demographic that has far less value to advertisers.    Facebook, that thinking went, will continue to grow explosively, open up gradually, target advertising very directly, and become the dominant social networking platform. 

Then there was Facebook’s refusal to sell to Yahoo for a reported 1+ billion.  This was followed by big negotiations with many key players, culminating a (much overhyped) 240 million deal with Microsoft to cooperate, run MS Live searches, and drive some MS and Facebook advertising.    Then came the false rumor of 500,000,000 more in capital which for many seemed to solidify Facebook’s valuation of 15 billion – a somewhat sloppy projection of the Microsoft partnership price.

So, what is Facebook worth in an Open Social world where even Myspace is a Google partner?   No, the answer is not 15 billion.

Google Open Social – wazzup?

It seems like the code for Google’s 3 “Open Social” APIs should be at Google Code but I can’t find the Open Social APIs, or even any mention of Open Social, at Google yet.   Maybe it’s been delayed or maybe TechCrunch’s earlier reports of a Nov 5 launch, rather than today, were correct?

It’s a typical internet deal where everybody is talking about something that has not even hit yet. 


Google Open Social opens Social

Google’s OpenSocial launches Thursday and will be a set of 3 APIs that will allow interface with a stable of early partners in the project incluing Friendster and LinkedIn.   Unclear to me is if the big social network players – Myspace and Facebook – will shun this solution in favor of trying to keep most  of the balls in their courts.   Eyeballs that is.  

The really provocative challenge in Social Networks is whether to close them up and try to keep everybody inside your own network (Myspace’s approach), or to open them up somewhat and hope developers will create applications to interface with your users, but still try to keep everybody playing in your application environment by your rules (Facebook), or to open things up even more as Google will do on Thursday. 

Google seems to be everywhere these days.  The Google Phone or gPhone will be out soon and I predict the Google Phone will be a spectacular success.  They may even launch their own cellular carrier network and seem to be on a tear all over the online space.   

For Google Social the partners are big, important players including linkedIn, Plaxo, Friendster, Ning, and more, but absent are the two key players in the social place, Myspace and Facebook.  If Myspace and Facebook keep doing their own thing it is going to be hard to predict how all this will shake out.   Google historically has been a fabulous tech company but conspicuously failed with their “Orkut” social network which never took off in the USA though it remains popular in Brazil.    Will Google Social turn all this around?   I just don’t know, but will be sure to check it out when available, and hope to be able to develop a travel application for the new Google Social.

TechCrunch has details.

Social Networking, Niches, and Facebook

This WSJ piece by Jessica Vascellaro is talking about a clear trend in social networking – noting that we’ve passed the “teen early adoption” phase and entered the professional phase where pretty much everybody will eventually participate in social networking of one form or another.

To filter the noise this social networking will increasingly take the form of highly targeted groups in thousands of interest niches. In fact this may transform socializing from the current scene to a world where most of your friendships are begun online and then extended in the real world.

Facebook’s future is tied up in how this shakes out.    If they succeed and become “the” general social network where you can branch out into specific niches even Google’s current level of success may pale in comparison.  However, unlike Robert Scoble, I’m not enamored enough with Facebook to think this will happen and these social aps will eclipse Google.   Rather I think the “killer application” has yet to be fully structured but will take the form of a robust, transportable, avatar laden, secure personal ID that you can modify easiy and then use to navigate the increasingly socialized internet.     As you visit websites this identity, all aspects of which remain under your own control, will allow other users to interact with you and branch off to your pictures, blog, or other items you choose.    Ultimately we’ll be able to interact online *far more effectively* than offline thanks to the reservoir of information (pictures, blogs, notes, comments, emails, video) many of us now pour online regularly.

One gets a glimpse of this by some of the early efforts like OpenID, bbAuth or Microsoft unified logins, or noting how Facebook cleverly allows the user to import blog posts to their facebook account.  Thus somebody looking at my Facebook profile also is “linked” to my blog posts without much effort.   Unfortunately, however, I have perhaps 100x the number of “active” real world contacts than I have “friends” in Facebook.    This may change, but I’m guessing that many people will never want to maintain much of an online identity, but almost everybody *would* want an application that would help them share and interact with others as they surf.

OpenID is the most promising approach theoretically, but it’s not taking off because there’s no big money to be made which I think has kept away the robust innovations needed for online identity solutions to really take off.

Paypal – now I know where all those usurious fees go!

A few years back, when I was making more money online, PayPal was a great way to receive payments from advertisers, especially if they were out of the country which otherwise meant you had to wait a long time for checks to clear. But Paypal charged a lot for this – a $1000 dollar transaction from England would cost, as I recall, something like $60 in fees.

The New York Times explains where some of my hard-earned-by-the-sweat-of-my-online-brow money went. After hitting the pockets of Paypal insiders it’s now spreading the gospel of YouTube, LinkedIn, and other Web startups.

I guess that should make me feel better about my little part in feeding funding to the PayPal behemoth, but somehow…. it doesn’t.