September 14, 2009

Direct Marketing Gave Myspace Something No Other Social Network Had

You’ve probably passed Stealing MySpace in the bookstore a dozen times. Every time, you probably glanced at the title and moved on.

Which is too bad; it’s a terrible title for a terribly interesting book. Essentially, Tom Anderson and his merry band of spyware masters were able to build a site that, until quite recently, was the largest and most successful social network. They didn’t have a vision, they didn’t have any expertise, and one of their most compelling features started out as an unexpected accident.

Myspace had one huge advantage, though: while it’s founders weren’t spammers, they were about as close as you can get. Before Myspace, they pushed hidden cameras, ebooks on dating, and lots and lots of spyware. Myspace itself might have been an attempt to go legit, but it might well have been a campaign to harvest new emAil addresses that somehow got out of hand. Whatever the reason, Myspace’s direct marketing heritage made it a social site like no other.

Read the rest of this entry »

August 24, 2009

After Anonymity

Most online annoyances are anonymous. Email spammers, twitter spammers, trolls, splogs, script kiddies, scammers—they’re all anonymous. And most good writers (of text and of software) operate under their own names, if only so they can easily get paid. But anonymous and psuedonymous people are being squeezed out of the online ecosystem. Is that going to change the world? Read the rest of this entry »