David RD Gratton

Niched Social Networks Will Likely Collapse MySpace and Facebook

July 10, 2007

I woke up this AM and checked my e-mail to find the following from my friend Aaron Gladders of 2paths:

Dude - you got mentioned in gigaom!

Ok, in my world that's pretty cool. A-list bloggers rarely link to Q-list bloggers like myself. And they rarely say something so flattering that you actually blush. In his post on the continued commoditization of social networks, Om wrote:
There have been much smarter people than me who figured this out long before I did. One of them, David RD Gratton recently channeling Thomas Vanderwal, recently wrote Beyond communities of Interest, communities don’t exist.

Ok, his "smarter than me" compliment is over the top and undeserved, but I'm still pretty chuffed that he reads my blog or at least a post here or there.

Now that I know Om is reading my posts - I better milk it for all I can. So I pointed out in the comments to his post what really has got me thinking recently on this subject is Dave Winer's opinion regarding our present social network environment.
"What was centralized in the form of Facebook, Linked-in, even YouTube, is going to blow up and reconstitute itself. How exactly it will happen is something the historians can argue about 25 years from now. It hasn't happened yet."

I think the the niching of social networks into highly identifiable communities of interest is what is going to cause the implosion of our present social network landscape. Let me elaborate. You are still reading aren't you?

Communities of interest imply niched social networks
The achilles heel in large generalized social networks are smaller niched social networks that service specific communities of interest. If my dominant interest is music, I am going to want to hang out in a music community. If it is cars, a car community. (Groups are neat, but they are insufficient. I can explain why in another post if anyone cares.)

The niching of social networks into smaller well defined communities of interest is, in my opinion, the reason that Facebook released an 'open' API. With it they aim to bethe social network platform and stave off being nipped at the heels by thousands of little but focused social networks. Although it is uncertain how the API gambit will play out, my feeling is that these apps have proven to be little more than diversion-type widgets and any truly useful social tool may in fact wind up transferring users from Facebook to the niche social network that created the tool. Meta network plays like Ning and People Aggregator will only add to the niching of social networks, should they prove successful. They are not the end game in my opinion and I bet Dave Winer's opinion as well. They are also not guaranteed successes regardless of a $44 million funding by Ning.

We belong to many communities of interest and shift effortlessly amongst them
We belong to many many communities of interest:
Broadly, I follow music and I am interested in hearing new GOOD music. More specifically I am a rabid Pink Floyd fan. (One last tour with Waters and Gilmour for God Sake! PLEASE.)
I am also interested in dog obedience training. More specifically I am interested in Wheaton Terriers.
I am interested in Web and mobile development. More specifically social networking application development.

I will gravitate to these specific social networks. However, in regular life I move seamlessly among these interests and communities. In my Web community, I have people who are interested in discussing dog training or Wheatons in particular. We talk about Web development and we can slip right into talking about dogs in little more than a heart beat. I do not change dress. I do not change my seat. I don't meet them in another office. This reality of human interaction is what needs to be reflected in cyberspace. OpenID, attribution exchange, etc is not a solution to this problem.

Blowing up social networks
Ok so what does this world look like?
I don't know. (Yeah, that's a bit of a let down if you have read this far.)


I think it looks a little like "Technorati" tags, (or at least what I thought they tried to do) and a little like usenet. Don't worry I don't mean it literally will look like usenet. And before anyone jumps on me, I say Technorati tags to distinguish them from how tags are generally used on del.icio.us, flickr, lastfm, etc, which are really used for personal categorization. Ok, the idea is still fuzzy in my head, but I think we will not log on or even need to register (e-mail, user name, password) to "most" communities we belong to in the future. We will identify our interest by simply saying so (tagging), and we will participate. What made Facebook so great? I could tag myself as Queen's University 1989 and presto I found all my classmates. (if we have anything to say to one another is another question) Is Facebook as a centralized service necessary for that functionality?

Fun with scissors

July 5, 2007

I came home from San Francisco to find....

It's really not that bad. So long as you look at him square-on.

Job Posting: Chief Operating Officer (COO)

June 27, 2007

I thought I would post this to my blog. If you know of anyone that would make a great fit, please pass this on.

My company, Donat Group is looking for a COO.

JDonat Group
A Creative Technology Company


Donat Group is a small, profitable Web development firm engaged in social network development and technology R&D. Online community, MMOG, learning and (soon) mobile technologies are the major focus of the work we do for customers who range from small start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, as well as organizations in the public and not-for-profit sectors. We are strategically positioned to meet this rapidly growing market. Our growth strategy includes plans to open offices in Central Canada and the United States in the next 3 years.

Donat Group needs an experienced COO to join our executive team to manage our operations and to help guide our growth. We prefer an individual with web and/or mobile service experience, a post secondary degree, preferably with a concentration in finance and/or business administration, and 5 to 10 years experience in financial management, administration and/or operations.

This is a hands-on position. As COO, you will be primarily responsible for managing staff, budgeting, and establishing processes that ensure profitable, sustainable business operations. These should be consistent with our growth strategy and with our fun and creative culture.

This job is ideal for an entrepreneurial professional looking to be part of a team responsible for building a multi-million dollar business.

COMPENSATION: Base salary is negotiable, but, as a small company intent on explosive growth, lucrative incentives must be a meaningful component of the compensation.

TO APPLY: Submit your resume and enquiries to Mandy Eagles: mandy fullstop eagles atsign donatgroup fullstop com

DEADLINE: July 13, 2007


If people don't know who you are...

June 21, 2007

A while back a musician asked to have a song of his removed from Project Opus. The song was listenable on Project Opus through the "IMPORT MUSIC" function. Essentially, Project Opus acts as a directory for the song. The song has to be freely available on a server to be "Imported". However the actual song file is served from the original location. Project Opus does not copy or host the song. When the song is played, the player clearly indicates the song's owner and which server is providing the host with appropriate link backs. No advertising is permitted on the song page for music not hosted by Project Opus directly.

So this musician found his music on our site when he typed in his name + "music" into Google. His name came up first inside Project Opus. He e-mailed us quite irate about having his music on our site without his permission. I explained to him the situation, that someone from Project Opus liked his music which they found on www.theothersite.com and added it to their favourites/playlist via our import function. He told me that he posted the song on the other site as a promo, which in my opinion makes sense. Except that site wasn't in the top 10 pages on Google (probably more I stopped looking) when I searched his name + music or the actual song title, while we were first in both. I told him we will be happy to delete the reference, but someone may add it again.

He asked me to delete there, as he wanted to sell his music and that our player made it too "EASY" to get his music and he was selling it on his website, which is nowhere (I just checked) on a Google search for his name.

So now his listing on Project Opus is no longer indexed by Google (We could have manually removed it from Google, I guess), and any search for his name turns up NOTHING related to him or his music. But he is selling his music off his site.



Online social networks integrated with MMOs

June 21, 2007

MTV launched the Alpha version of their 4th MMO titled VLES last week. VLES stands for Virtual Lower East Side. VLES is unique in that it is a near exact replica of NY's actual Lower East Side - spiritual home of the hipster.

My two companies, Donat Group and Project Opus, are the developers of the accompanying social network and music sharing tools built on Drupal. The MMO is built by Doppelganger, and the creative is driven by Virtue.

With VLES MTV is working hard at combining MMO world with the Web/social network world with the real "meat" world.

Syndicate content

Blog Roll

  • Ross Mayfield

    Founder of Social Text and a guy who truly understands all that is Web 2.0

  • Startupping

    New resource for entrepreneurs. Trying it out.

  • Michael Geist

    If you want to understand copyright issues in an open content world you had better read Michael.

  • Lucas Gonze

    Founder of XSPF. Evangelist for music tech standards.

  • Fred Wilson

    A VC with a keen eye music 2.0 among other things.

  • Marc Canter

    Marc is my primary noise filter for things I care about in Web 2.0

  • D'Arcy Norman

    D'Arcy has insight on eLearning enabling technologies.

  • Bob Lefsetz

    Opinionated, irreverent, but never irrelevant when it comes to the music industry.

  • Chris Anderson

    The long tail master

  • Pete Cashmore

    The heartbeat of social network news.

  • Kris Krug

    A photographer's eye. An artist's soul.

Great if there is a post

  • Mandy Gratton

    My wife's blog. It's always a good read if there is a post.

  • Andre Herasimchuk

    Brilliant designer and commentator. Blog is all but dead, but archive is still valuable.

  • Jay Savage

    Always writes something sharp. Doesn't write nearly enough.

  • Colin Brumelle

    Music technology and artist.

  • Ed Sim

    An always insightful VC. When he chooses to write that is.