I've been around the social media block long enough (Geocities, Friendster, Tribe.net, anyone?), and this seems to apply to the seemingly "invincible" search engines as well (WebCrawler, AltaVista?): the one thing that seems as constant as death and taxes online is that the social sphere (the wisdom of crowds or mob rule) is fickle.
You may be up one day, but most surely, a day will come when you will be down (think about it, Blackboard!).So while I never really got into MySpace, the larger story of the MySpace failure is a cautionary tale for any 800 pound gorilla entertaining dreams of invincible bigness.
This Financial Times article dissects the failures of the early leader dancing on the tensions between interactive communication models and mass media communication models, as News Corp tycoons demanded MySpace scale up to mass media audiences and oblivious mass media behaviors, effectively killing their own golden goose.
But is that what killed the MySpace social ecosystem?
(Note, it is not really dead, but it is acknowledged in this article that its 100M users are no longer contesting Facebook for leadership at 300M users.)
One could argue that as surely as MySpace rose, it would also fall, as surely as a small town church will split into two churches, as surely as Friendster begat Tribe begat MySpace begat Facebook (which will begat ???).
But back when this question of ascendancy between MySpace and Facebook was still in more open contention, I never once doubted Facebook would come out on top (and this wasn't just because MySpace often resembled the old Geocities pages either!).
But people argued with me. And I knew they were wrong, despite their very earnest and rational arguments, proofs, numbers.
It bugs me: How did I know they were wrong? I am wont to reflect on these things. I wouldn't just cite my online research background in social ecosystems, user experience design work, or some other thing from my resume' (an argument based on authority or expertise, which seems to be a cheat in this instance, since I have never designed a site as successful as MySpace or Facebook).
So truisms and arguments from authority or expertise don't count, at least for this exercise.
So how did I just KNOW? How did all those other 300M users just know? What did we know?