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MySpace the Platform Not the Product

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Scoble visited MySpace this week and reports on his trip. I am not a MySpace fan I use it just enough to understand how it works and occasionally to find old friends but I don't rely on it like I do some other social networking sites. I was impressed by their philosophy though.

...MySpace has a philosophy. One that says that users should be free to express themselves in pretty much whatever way they want. If that means yellow text on a blinking purple background, so be it.

Who's the keeper of that philosophy? Steve Pearman. He demonstrated something that I wish more corporate types would demonstrate (including me). He pointed out several times in our interview that he doesn't have any claim on knowing the right way to do something. He said that even if he were pretty correct, say, that 95% of MySpace's users agreed with him, that'd mean that millions of people
would still disagree with his decision.

This embodies the new collaborative product development model.

  1. Develop something that's both useful and free
  2. Create a platform or forum to innovate on or within
  3. Recognize contributions and promote that community to create a vested interest for the success of the parent technology/product/platform

Coming up with the next best thing is tough. Harnessing the collective intelligence of a large user base is the more likely path to innovation than having the arrogance to think you are smarter than everyone else. That's why the buzz word of the day seems to be online community, I have had at least ten people in the last week ask me about building online communities. I think the real question should be,"How do you promote and enable innovation?" Good places to start are open source software and Wikipedia.

For more Mark Hinkle, visit his Socialized Software blog.

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