Monthly Archives: February 2008

Joost Will Not Survive 2008

joost.png We told you from the start that Joose was DOA. Why? It’s not browser-based. If you’re creating anything mass-market right now, it had better be work in a web browser. This isn’t 1999 or even 2003, when apps like Skype or Napster were downloaded in the tens of millions, making people rich and introducing new ideas and new ways to use the emerging network. Ever since the rise of embedded apps, such as YouTube, Google Apps, Webmail, Flash-based games, Scribd, etc., non-browser stuff has been even more useless then it was before.The web is so much more powerful then anything else out there, you’d have to be an idiot not to center your applications in the universal web-access device– the browser.  Joost’s website has been down recently, but as Mashable notes, did anyone even notice? Mashable’s audience is the target audience for Joost, early-adopters who will try any web app once and stick with it if it delivers value. 90% of them say they use Joost rarely if ever. 

Social Media Boulevardiers

 boulevardiers

Several of you wrote to ask what a “social media boulevardier” is. Let’s not get hysterical, I’m not trying to go all Umair Haque on you and invent my own jargon to make you feel stupid. A boulevardier was a fashionable Parisian man of old, who dressed well and lived well, flitting from place to place to see and be seen. More often then not, however, the boulevardier spent little money and was an observer rather then a true participant. A Parisian cafe-owner, for example, would love to have a few of well-dressed boulevardiers sipping absinthe at the bar– it made the place look fashionable and provided a nice backdrop. The last thing he’d want, however, would be an entire restaurant full of skinflint nobodies taking up all the tables. Likewise, lots of community-based sites struggle with users who flood the site with pageviews, but do little to increase actual value. Keeping the boulevardiers happy while still bringing in the regular customers is a tough balancing act, and one that every site needs to juggle.

Mixx.com: Nice Site, Shame About the Community

mixx_logo.png

Digg wannabe Mixx has been at it long enough now to give them a hard look.

Unfortunately for them, it appears all their clean code, slick design, integration with large sites like LATimes.com, and good intentions hasn’t been enough. The main thing about a site like this always will be strength and content of the community. A passionate, dedicated community with shared wisdom and a point of view? That describes Digg, Fark, Metafilter. So far the main community that seems to have embraced Mixx is people who want to “succeed” in social media. In other words, people who want to use social sites like Mixx to help their own failure-worthy businesses. These are “users” in the worst possible sense, people who want to “use” Mixx, rather then the core community on Digg, which wants to improve the site. The most visible evidence of this is that most of the most popular stories on Mixx are current events, breakthroughs in technology, etc. but rather crappy how-tos on how to run your “startup”, how to spam social media, and what a great site Mixx is.

Further adding to the misery, the “groups” area, which is the very first thing in the top navigation bar, is not useful, and the groups themselves are faceless link aggregators rather then anything unique, vibrant, or useful.

Mixx is proof, thus far, that even with the best tools, building a valuable online community is very, very tough. Even more difficult is changing the site’s community profile once its hit a certain point. Normal people like me who just want to find interesting news will be increasingly turned off by the site, and social media boulevardiers will continue to rush in, creating a useless echo chamber.

Digg Peaked in 2007… Or Did It?

I’ve said it before, but must say it again– Alexa, Compete and Quantcast are not serious tools for analyzing web traffic. However, they are useful for comparing sites in the same basic genre, and for looking at the growth of various sites over time. Digg Traffic from Alexa According to Alexa, Digg peaked sometime in late 2007, and has been slipping ever since. Compete and Quantcast show modest gains since late 2007. Which is right? Probably both– Digg’s core audience is over-represented in Alexa’s numbers, and some of them have moved on to other sites, others have gotten older and have less time to spend on the site, and for some the novelty has probably worn off. The slight gains that can be seen on Compete and Quantcast mean that Digg is reaching more mainstream users, which is a plus. However they must be somewhat worried that A. they’re not growing that fast and B. the core demographic appears to be slightly less crazy about the site then they were last year.