Danah Boyd at AOL Mountain View

Danah Boyd just wrappedup a great talk about online social spaces here at AOL Mountain View(the podcast is up already).  She delivered information via firehose. Some random notes...

There were several reasons why Friendster faded, and some lessons.
  • Conflictbetween the user community and the space creators (they wanted a datingsite, the users wanted to do a lot of other things).  Lesson:Listen to the community; be flexible; adjust the business plan whenneeded.
  • Servers buckled under load when it got too popular.  Lesson:The technology has to work or people will lose patience and go to the competition.
  • When Friendster started to try to go mainstream beyond the earlyadopter clusters, new users couldn't find any friends on the site so itwasn't useful to them.  Lesson:  Network effects work inreverse too.  Start with small clusters and grow organically.
MySpace did a big thing right: When people started 'hacking' HTML intheir own spaces, the creators let it happen, then made it easier byadding the features that people actually wanted to use, like soundfiles (for indie bands) and videos from YouTube. This means thecommunity is designing the service as much as the creators are; notjust putting content, but guiding much of the design direction, alongwith highly visible and passionate designers engaged with thecommunity.  Danah calls this Embedded Community Design. 

Best quote: "[Teens are] immune to bouncy visual overload." They'vebeen immunized to this by mass media. (What does this mean foradvertising as a business model?)

Last week, teens used MySpace to organize mass school walkouts to protest HR 4437. That's impressive regardless of your political views.

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  1. here's the podcast of Danah's talk: Open iTunes, go to the Advanced menu, and select Subscribe to Podcast, then paste in the podcast url: http://www.aolmountainview.com/podcast/aol.xml.

    You can also search for 'aol mountain view' from the iTunes music store and


  2. There is a great article on this same topic over at tech crunch, I think. So much going on about social networks impacting web 2.0 - how do you think AOL will get ahead of the curve on this issue?



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