Which Is More Important: Technology Or Community?

from the seems-like-it dept

There’s an interesting little blurb making the rounds today about Rupert Murdoch claiming Google could have bought MySpace three months before he did at half the price. That’s interesting in its own right — but in thinking about how few acquisitions of this type Google does, it becomes clear that Google values technology over community by a long shot. The reason Google didn’t want to buy MySpace was because it thought it could build the same thing. That’s a technology answer, that ignores the community side of things — which isn’t so easy to build. It’s also why Orkut is barely discussed these days, outside of Brazil. However, if you compare the acquisitions Google has made over the last few years to those that Yahoo and News Corp have made, it’s pretty clear that Yahoo and News Corp are buying community, while Google has focused more on buying engineers. So, it’s no surprise that Google would turn down a chance to acquire MySpace. The technology was (and still is) nothing special. It’s the value of the community that they didn’t see (or didn’t care about). The real question is which strategy is going to make the most sense in the long run. Google has obviously done quite well with its technology focused solution. While MySpace is growing like gangbusters, there are still some questions about how well that community can be monetized.


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Comments on “Which Is More Important: Technology Or Community?”

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21 Comments
Mr. K. (user link) says:

Good point.

I think this is one reason why many of Google’s recent offerings have been, while technically competent, not exactly revolutionary or game-changing. I don’t think they have gotten a handle on the community yet. They are definitely trying to position themselves as a central server or repository of everything digital. If they were interested in the community answer to that, they would be in peer-to-peer or distributive computing. The only vaguley community oriented thing they’ve done is AdSense but which is ultimately pointing back to Google’s search ability.

An idea of how community could benefit Google: we all know their search results are sometimes watered-down by link farm pages or simply pages that are close but not quite what you are searching for. How about giving people the ability to give a yes or no vote to specific search results? They would get some truly interesting data and scads of it. Something to think about.

I, for one says:

Re: It's about control

Says Mousky – “You can control technology. You cannot control a community”

Succinct but possibly wrong. The converse may in fact be true.

Look at the stifling organisational controls on every form of community that isn’t private. Consider the topical MySpace, Facebook and SecondLife debacles in the news and you will see “community” in this sense is very much about control.

The consider the machinations of PirateBay and the RIAA, free open source software, encryption… technology is something that is *EXTREMELY* difficult to control as many are now learning.

I think Google are very smart indeed. I see their rationale, stunningly brilliant in its simplicity and wisdom.

Empower people. Give people utility and something they want and they will come. Empower them enough and they build their own community using their own rules, not some walled garden nanny micro-state that is just a glorified photo forum when all said and done.

knome says:

Good point.

Look into the upcoming personalized search engine meme google has ( http://www.google.com/coop ). Create your own community search engine based on googles technology but only applying to what you want it to. As it gains in popularity it will begin to affect the communal personalized searches public/meta search. As rankings in this show strong signs of usage, they can be eventually rolled into the real thing.

I would bet that googles next step is to ( if they do not already ) begin using their profile tracking systems to more directly impact the results. Take the vast numbers of individual profiles and determine from them the statistics that indicate a human movement pattern on the web. Use this to determine which sites hold these humans the longest. Have the most page hits. Use this as a proof of realness to indicate to pagerank which pages are genuine, and raise their relative influence over the link mesh.

From this the otherwise crosslink infested farms begin to stand out against the data, and are negatively impacted by their lack of interaction with the genuine web, specifically the users thereof. Links into and out of these black holes that do not traffic in substantial human clicks would be severed in the algorithm, and hopefully drop from the rankings.

Jake Lockley says:

Google Had No Need

Why to buy a company: brand value, competitive risk, to build market share.

Google understands that the one with the biggest behavioral database wins. Rupert Murdoch was simply buying marketshare he did not own. Google knew they could already reach those people so why bother buying a company to target customers they already own? Google only buys things which expand on the amount of passive data they can collect and analyze on users or tech whose patents or database are a future risk to the company.

Defy says:

tech is community and vice versa

google is an information manufacturer. they make tools for the community to use. just look at google maps and google earth. they are slowly being incorperated into ways of connecting people. Gmail is another example. Google doesn’t create community, they create the tools used by it. Myspace is outside of their goals i think.

Steve says:

I agree Defy

I will start by saying that I have a partial bias to google and the various functions I am able to perform through their website. Being a college student I have a facebook account but do not take it to the next level like many individuals do. I do not have a myspace account, I feel as if they are for creeps.

That being said.

Google is extremely successful at providing individuals with the ability to simplify daily tasks in a very efficient manner. gmail is connecting individuals by providing a medium to share information with one another, without have to broadcast the user’s information to the entire community. i use google for many things, googlescholar is great, i can get directions and maps extremely easy and even though i’m yet to use froogle, my dad claims there are benefits there that ebay can not necessarily provide.

Its nice to see google realizes they can control the community without having to actual monitor it to the amount myspace does. defy was right on by saying it’s all about the information they can provide to individuals, and how beneficial their tools are for the community.

Ano says:

Orkut way Better

Guys…
whatever you might think….

Simplicity of Orkut Rocks….

Myspace is just a Spamspace…..with an Ugly interface

Orkut has a great Community network…and its easy to find like minded people on Orkut…..which i sorely miss on myspace…

Myspace is slow too…

In India and Brazil orkut is Huuuuuuuuuge…….

in india hardly anybody’s aware of Myspace’s existence…forget about using it….

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