A lovely find by BiG

>Aristotle distinguished between friendships based on communal interests and those of soulmates who bonded out of mutual affection. The vast majority of people signed up for MySpace, Rupert Murdoch’s phenomenally successful networking site, fall into the former category. But on present showing that won’t stop its continuing expansion which, as the MySpace generation goes into employment, could eventually extend Murdoch’s influence in ways that would make his grip on satellite television seem parochial.

It was said at the time of purchase that if Murdoch tried to mess with MySpace’s “sharing” culture by commercialising it, punters would simply switch to one of the dozens of clones it has spawned from Bebo.com to the upwardly mobile Cyworld.com, which has taken South Korea by storm and is now taking the battle into MySpace’s backyard in the US. Cyworld points to research showing that MySpace is a “rites-of-passage” site that kids will grow out of while Cyworld is a “real you” experience. It is an interesting, almost Aristotelian, distinction but some argue it may already be too late for competitors to dislodge MySpace, except in niche markets.

John Barrett of TechNewsWorld claims that MySpace is well on the way to becoming what economists call a “natural monopoly”. Users have invested so much social capital in putting up data about themselves it is not worth their changing sites, especially since every new user that MySpace attracts adds to its value as a network of interacting people.

10 comments on “A lovely find by BiG

  1. One thing people don’t grasp is how unsticky some of these tech things are.

    Like the reason that Oracle and IBM still have customers is that they’re running critical stuff with really important data in huge companies. Changing it has massive risks.

    No-one cares about last week’s social media posts.

  2. BoM4 is quite right.

    Was in a furniture shop the other day. Their stock and order system looks like some kind of teletext console that hasn’t changed since the early 1980s. It probably hasn’t, except they now have a better network, maybe still dial up to a central server that they operate themselves (it probably wouldn’t be advisable to connect that thing to the internet). Dot matrix printers with tear-off holes on the side of the paper. It was like going back in time. But I bet it costs them almost nothing to maintain.

    It’s why I try to persuade my company to use off-the-shelf software rather than proprietary databases from slick salesmen for as long as we still can. Because once you put all your data in the hands of some bespoke monolith they will screw you. You can just tell that’s what Microsoft Scarepoint is going to be for.

  3. BiG,

    “It’s why I try to persuade my company to use off-the-shelf software rather than proprietary databases from slick salesmen for as long as we still can. Because once you put all your data in the hands of some bespoke monolith they will screw you. You can just tell that’s what Microsoft Scarepoint is going to be for.”

    My free bit of consultancy for you (I build software solutions for people):-

    Off-the-shelf is always best, if you can. Do a gap analysis. What does the software do, what do you need it to do. There’s often gaps, but work out if you can fill them. Maybe there’s a manual process, maybe you live with the gaps.

    Most large businesses are running a hybrid of packages and custom software filling in the gaps. Like a lot of businesses have content management software for their websites. And it’s off the shelf, like Sitecore, Sharepoint, Umbraco. As vanilla products, they do a lot, but they also allow developers to hook into them. Like someone added an extension to Umbraco to allow users to check their readability of text. Someone else allowed users to pick from videos on a YouTube channel.

    The benefits of off-the-shelf are all sorts. Mainly, you’re tapping into scale. Microsoft Office costs millions to maintain, but because so many users use it, it’s £10/month.

    Hand-crafted can make you a hostage. You should always buy the source code as part of any deal, so you can bin that company and go elsewhere. I’ve seen companies burnt by not doing that.

    What’s your problem with Sharepoint? It is off-the-shelf and it has its uses. But if you’re not a massive company, it’s overkill.

  4. The gap is what people don’t know the software can do.

    We were going to buy some super expensive training database thing. I stopped that from happening by building an excel sheet with custom formatting, custom filtering for email addresses of people who have to, versus can do the various trainings offered, mailmerge outputs of training records that now take about 15 seconds to run off a set for the whole company, that kind of thing. I am sure there is room for improvement, and we could do with hiring an expert for a day to make snazzier outputs, but it’s 100x better than what we used before, and a lot cheaper (even counting my time spent on it) than what we would otherwise have ended up with.

    The boss had no idea you could do that with excel.

    Scarepoint is just the biggest pile of wank I have ever come across. It is broken as a filing system, has literally broken stuff that has not been broken since DOS version 1.

    The loss of ability to type the path (at least the start of it) to the file I am looking for is huge, it crashes and loses documents doing the one thing it could be useful for (real-time collaboration) and the grey-on-grey design sucks mightily. All the usual keyboard shortcuts you like in file explorer are broken, and both the file explorer-like implementations are inadequate in some way.

    And I am sorry, I am never going to get used to going to a website to get my files. That’s just wrong.

  5. BiG,

    Your solution sounds OK.

    There’s software-as-a-service solutions for employee compliance. But they’re probably more sophisticated than what you need.

  6. “The gap is what people don’t know the software can do.”

    The things I have seen….attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion

    There’s an article knocking about that suggests that shortly after the release of Office 97, the requests that the Word dev team received from users for additional functionality began to increase.

    Unfortunately, the number quickly got to 80%+ for functions that were already there.

    Users, eh?

  7. @BoM4,

    We are fast approching the “process singularity”, a concept I mentioned over at The Other Tim’s Place before.

    The process singularity occurs when we are spending so much time doing mandatory client online trainings, SOP checkbox-tickings, system updates, time on phone to IT idiots who pass us to other people who ask the same questions, that there is no time left for any actual productive work.

    And we aren’t IT nerds, we do acutally do some real-world, necessary, if somewhat tedious stuff that ultimately, at some part far-removed from the nether reaches of our link in the value chain, makes the world a better place.

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