Thursday, August 9, 2007

Tuesday Evening at Bluestockings: Aaron Bollinger and "The MySpace Social Guide"

This is from Richard Grayson's MySpace blog for Thursday, August 9, 2007:

On Tuesday evening, I attended a fascinating presentation by Aaron Bollinger, author of The MySpace Social Guide, at Bluestockings, the wonderful radical/feminist/activist bookstore on the Lower East Side. He discussed the various innovative ways social activists and small businesses can use MySpace and Web 2.0.

Despite MySpace's technical difficulties and shortcomings (in attempting to post this, I've gotten one frozen screen and eleven frustrating "an unexpected method has occurred" messages -- you all have gotten them too), Aaron sees it and other Web 2.0 social networks, aggregators and other sites as ways people can connect with customers, other activists, and clients.

The big advantage MySpace had over an earlier social network like Friendster, Aaron said, was the ability to copy and post code into profiles; thus, any kid with a MySpace page could in effect become her own webmaster. This empowerment, along with the rise of social networking and user-generated content, is the essence of Web 2.0.

Aaron played this incredibly interesting YouTube video, mostly screens of statistics about the rapidly changing world of work, communication and technology, called "The Future of Technology." (Did you know that the U.S. Labor Department estimates that today's learners will have 10-14 different jobs by age 38? That India and China have more honors students than the U.S. has students of any kind? Or that the U.S. is 20th in broadband internet penetration? Actually, we've probably fallen behind even further by now.)

After discussing LinkedIn and, Aaron said not only the familiar "content is king" mantra but also "context is king." That is, people usually discuss religion in special places (for example, houses of worship), not at the ball game or the workplace. So where you post content is as important, if not more so, than what you are saying.

Aaron predicted that eventually every organization will have its own social network, that the complex designs of portals like Yahoo and CNN are very Web 1.0, that the future of web design is simplicity and ease of use. Then he discussed the future: Web 3.0 will be viral and nomadic, with content migrating to multiple places; for example, thanks to widgets, videos will not just show up on a site like YouTube.

He gave as an example of a "context aggregator" the mostly in-beta profile aggregators, where you can have all your social networking profiles (MySpace, Facebook, etc.) in one place. Other examples are and

Viral syndication will be made possible through widgets. Examples of widget-building sites can be found at Aaron's company,, and also at and

Some questions Aaron posed: How do smaller, specialized social networks get people to join? Will giant profiles like MySpace be where everyone spends their time in the future? How can we coherently organize content?

In meatspace, as we used to call it in Silicon Valley in the 1990s (well, some techtards like me did), people still go to general places to hang out and spend time: parks, malls, TV networks. But we also spend a lot of time at specialized places, of course, places where not everyone goes.

Aaron showed, a site for film lovers, the Four Eyed Monsters project on YouTube, as well as the twins playing the 90210 theme on guitar(whom I must admit underwhelmed me). These projects have a natural stickiness, Aaron claimed, user-generated content that a lot of people make meaningful connections with and send on to their friends.

He also had us look at simple, narrow sights like the light bulb site and EQ.TV, which have eschewed the complexity of the old Web 1.0 portals for the plain and simple interface of Google -- "as simple as TV is," Aaron said.

Then he took questions, which included queries about wikis and content management systems for user-generated content. Throughout his presentation -- on a very hot and humid evening -- Aaron was articulate without being overly polished, informative and interesting.

Although I haven't yet read The MySpace Social Guide, it appears to have the same qualities and looks like a valuable tool you might want to get for information and future reference.

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