The Web Is One Big Party

A VC A few months ago, Fred Wilson of All Software Should Be Social. In it, he paraphrased something Clay Shirky said:

Clay Shirky once said that social nets are like parties. When they are small, they are really great, when they get big and crowded, they cease to be useful. Again I can’t find that post, or I’d link to it.

Clay’s right. But a huge social net that’s made up of millions of smaller social nets is likely to be even more useful than anything that we currently have.

This got me thinking, which, I know, is a dangerous thing.

Say the web is one big party. Like Clay says, a party with too many people is no fun. But this party is being held in an enormous warehouse with lots of nooks and crannies. So naturally, groups of people break off into their own niches.

Some people stay with their friends (MySpace, Facebook,, Second Life). Others stick with family (Famster), coworkers (LinkedIn), or even church group (MyChurch). People like to feel like they belong somewhere, and people with similar interests tend to cluster together. Thus you have cliques (Wikipedia, Flickr, Digg, Yelp, YouTube,, Kaboodle, Dogster, Fanpop, Gather, FanNation, LibraryThing, Rupture, and on and on and on).

But people don’t stay within a particular group all the time though. They travel between several cliques, sometimes adopting different persona with each one. That’s okay though, because they still have their own identity; it’s just their outward behavior and language that changes (OpenID, PeopleAggregator).

Sometimes people want to share their life story and crave an audience (Twitter, Blogger, Xanga, LiveJournal). That can be difficult because this is one loud party; but you’re bound to find a few single people at the bar if you look hard enough.

Other times, people need a little alone-time and privacy, away from everyone at the party. This can be both easy and hard. It’s easy when you want to just leave the party (log off). It’s hard when you’ve been at the party for a while, had lots of conversations, then are trying to hide. If someone wants to find you, they will (Google, Technorati, Wink). At this party, everything you’ve said can last forever.

It’s also easy just to sit back and people-watch at this party (Google Reader, FeedBurner, My Yahoo!, Netvibes, Bloglines). There’s a lot to see and your eyes may glaze over after a few hours. But you’ll also see some really wacky and fun sights.

Then what happens when bullies start to get abusive? It’s tough to police this party; it’s so big that almost anything goes. Fortunately, some kind souls are trying to help (EFF, Creative Commons). Much luck to them. There are lots of predators at this party. I hope they don’t ruin it for the rest of us.

And there you have it. The web as one big party. It’s a fantastic one that’s growing everyday. This warehouse is infinite, save for our imaginations. So come in and have some fun. Just don’t drink too much; the hang-over is killer.

Want To Buy Some Web 2.0? and VentureBoard Now this is what I’d call a sign of trouble.

Have a Web 2.0 online business but can’t get your business model working? Maybe you can’t get any customers. Maybe your product really sucks. Maybe you quit your job to start this thing and are realizing you made a horrible, horrible mistake.

Never fear! Just sell your business online!

There are now two companies through which you can sell your online wares: VentureBoard and Web 2.0 For Sale. You can sell anything remotely Web 2.0ish, from domain names to mash-ups to your website. As I write this, is on sale for $12,500.00 at Web 2.0 For Sale. Wow.

The hubbub started when, an DHTML calendar offering, sold themselves on eBay for $250,000. They weren’t the first to use eBay, but they generated the most press. Jux2, a metasearch engine, was the first – at least, according to TechCrunch.

I remember watching the auction on eBay. A friend told me about it and we mused: “Maybe we should build some kind of DHTML app and sell it on eBay too…”

Well, that idea could still work. And now we have more sales channels too!

What VentureBoard and Web 2.0 For Sale are doing is really smart. There’s certainly a demand for this kind of service right now. Why not capitalize on it?

For entrepreneurial web developers, this may start a new trend – quickly build a Web 2.0ish online app (be it a social network, mash-up, wiki, pick your favorite buzz word) and sell it. Even if you sell one for $5,000, that ain’t half bad. Do that once a month and you’re golden.

Only, who the heck is buying? These services don’t post any sales statistics. It’s easy to find this out on eBay, but not on VentureBoard and Web 2.0 For Sale. Hmmm.

The entrepreneur in me is saying: “Maybe we should build some kind of DHTML app and sell it on eBay, or VentureBoard, or Web 2.0 For Sale too…” If there’s a low-cost way in doing this, why not?

The trouble is in building a real business model. I’d just be building a site for the sake of selling it. Quite a post-Internet-bubble sentiment, eh? First, there was: Build a site and the venture capital will come. Now, there’s: Build a site and the sales will come. Nice.

The real business model here is in VentureBoard and Web 2.0 For Sale. At least, as long as there are actual buyers for these Web 2.0ish social networks/mash-ups/wikis/etc…

And hey, I have a few ideas. Anyone want to help me build a few DHTML apps? They probably suck as businesses, but maybe someone will buy them!

A New Kind of Social Network?

MyBlogLog Is MyBlogLog a new kind of social network? Sure it is. Let’s analyze.

A social network, in the sociological sense, is a social structure of individuals connected through various levels of familiarity. MyBlogLog certainly is that. But how does it compare to a typical online social network, such as Friendster, MySpace, and Facebook?

A typical online social network has several definable qualities. These qualities can be duplicated in the blogosphere with some effort; online social networks just make it very, very easy. (And easy + desirable usually = quick adoption.)

  • A representation of one’s identity – A profile page, including:
    • Personal info
    • Interests
    • Photos
    • A blog
    • 1st degree connections
    • Contact tools
  • A means to manage your connections – Adding, deleting, & grouping connections
  • A means to interact with varying degrees of connections – Via contact tools
  • Reciprocal connections – A connection between two individuals is visible on each other’s profile page

MyBlogLog basically is traffic & visitor tracking software that includes a widget to display some of those visitors on your site. (Visitors need to have an account with MyBlogLog to be visible; and why wouldn’t you want one? It’s so cool!) It is commonly used on blogs; without a blog, MyBlogLog alone isn’t a social network. A typical user of a MyBlogLog widget has:

  • A representation of one’s identity – A personal site, usually a blog, including:
    • Personal info
    • Interests
    • Photos
    • A blog
    • 1st degree connections – in the form of a blogroll
    • Contact tools
  • A means to manage your connections – As simple as managing one’s blogroll
  • A means to interact with varying degrees of connections – Via email, blog comments, IM, etc.
  • Reciprocal connections – Oops! Blogs don’t always have this.

Does this mean MyBlogLog isn’t a typical online social network? Yes. Blogs + MyBlogLog doesn’t give you reciprocal connections. Just because you add me to your blogroll doesn’t mean I’m going to add you (though if you ask nicely…).

However, MyBlogLog does give you something extra:

  • Visitor visibility – The ability to see who’s visited a site

Before this, blog comments were the primary means to truly know who’s visited your blog. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of a blog’s readers will write a comment. Now you, and your other visitors, can see your audience. Typical online social networks don’t offer this.

These visitors still aren’t reciprocal connections though (and just because they’ve been to your site once doesn’t mean they’re going to return). But over time, you’ll see repeat visitors. Online social networks gave you the ability to know your audience – if a new visitor wanted to interact with you, he/she typically would add you as a connection.

Now MyBlogLog is providing a new level of visitor visibility. (I see you!)