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March 14, 2006
What You Know and Web 2.0
Alexa's look at the MySpace phenom is a reminder once again of how quickly so many of these new media phenoms are emerging, seemingly out of the mist.
How does this happen? MySpace went from nothing to a force to be reckoned with in less than two years. But until last summer, just as it was reaching its tipping point, most people still didn't have a clue about it.
After ten years of tracking the Internet, it feels to me like there is something very different going on now. It used to be pretty easy to track the up and coming trends. As long as you spent time online, kept up with a wide variety of newslists, tracked the Web ratings data, you could reason what was going on.
So what's different? I chatted with Clay Shirky about this a while ago, and he made a point that make sense. The Web is so big at this point that large subsegments (hundreds of thousands to even millions of people) can flock to a service without being noticed. Relative to the overall population online, that amount of people is pretty small. Eventually, as a service keeps growing, the rest of the Web begins to trip over it.
So, how do you find the next MySpace? I spoke with the folks at Alexa, and the advice is pretty basic. Be vigilant. Be on the lookout for interesting names. Track them over time. Somehow there seems like there has to be another way...
But maybe that's just reality, and we'll soon be hiring coolhunters to help us prospect different niches, demographics, and interests. Because the under-the-radar services aren't simply being driven by teens, the MySpace example notwithstanding. Baker loves Flickr. My friend Laurie can't get enough of photo sharing service YouTube. My 30-something collegues deftly describe the neat features on real estate service Zillow. These cut into different segments.
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I think the way to keep up (and I'll confess here that I fail in this regard...) is to circulate far outside our comfortable demo- and psychographic online. The easiest thing for us is to tune into sites and books and magazines where we know 70% of what is written, and the other 30% sort of fits into a picture we're familiar with. We need to stretch more. The trouble is that in the shortterm we get little payback for stretching. The sites don't interest us, and if we spend too much time with them, we skip a big story or trend in our area of focus.
I"ve blogged before on this, and have asked people for recommendations of Web sites that are far outside our area of coverage. Anyone have more recommendations here?
Posted by: steve baker at March 14, 2006 07:32 PM
We just launched blueroof.com, which is a new real estate site that allows people to search for listed properties and for sale by owner homes, and make an offer to purchase online. Let me know what you think- we can use all the feedback we can get.
Posted by: greg at July 4, 2006 01:06 PM