As we have moved along the timeline of what we refer to as Web 2.0 and social media one of the big standbys of the movement has been that of openness and transparency. At the same time under the cover of this apparent new way of doing things we have services like Facebook, MySpace, Bebo and any number of other so-called social networks gaining users at a huge rate. You literally can’t turn anywhere without hearing someone talking about being on Facebook.
Proponents of Facebook and social networks like them are quick to point out how they have opened up over the past year. Facebook mimics Twitter and allows sharing of status messages between the two. The thinking being that you can’t accuse someone of being a closed system if that services allows outside services to interact with it. That might be true when you are talking about a very small segment of the overall user base – otherwise known as the early adopters. However when you finally cross over from being an early adopter play toy things change.
Rex Dixon had an interesting post on SiliconAngle (congrats to John Furrier on the new blog) where he talks about the fact that MySpace has created their own webmail service. He points out that while this idea might be so 2006 for the early users of MySpace; many who have moved onto other – newer – services, it is in fact a great idea for all those new members who are signing up daily (emphasis mine)
The point is, while many of the tech crowd are so over MySpace like back in 2006, there are many first timers that are just signing up in late 2008 and early 2009 for their first MySpace account. Many average citizens still use MySpace daily. I know, this sounds like science fiction to some of you readers, even a bit archaic. Truth being told, it really is not. While many of you that are reading this have grasped the simple social networks and media tools such as twitter easily, there are many in the mainstream that are just getting on board.
Why is this webmail on MySpace a good thing? Since there are many first timers being introduced to social networking, they will want things to be easy and familiar. Webmail is likely one of those familiarities and something they have been introduced too as well as understand. Personally speaking, I seem to benefit from being able to look at this objectively from both sides.
I would add that it is also a hook to make sure that once snagged the user they don’t have any reason to go elsewhere. do you really think that Facebook copied Twitter and allows traffic between the two out of the kindness of its heart? I seriously doubt it, rather it is a case of “hey we let you send to Twitter from Facebook so you don’t need to go to their service anymore – you can stay right here”.
It doesn’t behove any of these services to have interoperability – not really. But it does make them look good to appear to do so because it keeps the early adopters off their backs and gives the new members even less reason to leave. As I said on Twitter earlier
why does it seem that the more we talk about Myspace, Facebook et al we seem to be returning to days of AOL, Prodigy, Compuserve, MSN 32 minutes ago from blu
On the one hand these social networks are all trying to give the appearance of being open and sharing with everyone else in the social media world but at the same time every move they make only seems to be building up the silo walls a little higher.