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Response to “Six Spaces of Social Media “ August 16, 2007

Posted by alwilliams in Uncategorized.


I literally read this the day before last and I thought that it was interesting, but there are so many ways to categorise something and I don’t think Matt Lock, the author of this piece, has moved any closer than Bear Stearns suggestions. I do however acknowledge that categorisation is a difficult endeavour and that often a few are required to meet the end users requirements.

Lock has tried to apply need of the end user, but this is problematic since people use everything for very different reasons, especially online where there is greater, and increasing overlap between what services offer. MySpace for example started off as a “Group Space” where people could create their friends list and build their group network, however since MySpace allows HTML coding people’s pages take on a “Publishing Space” and people add various images they have made, show off their ‘arty’ pics of themselves etc. Now however everyone seems to hate MySpace in favour of Facebook, so for these people it is now a “secret space” where they just use it to email their friends who still use the service. As such it is not possible to use these categories to pigeonhole an online service since it would vary for everyone and this does not represent a useful categorisation from the web
service’s point of view.

Habbo for example has a social networking facility, which means it is a group space;


but you can make your own movie and share it with people on Habbo or export it to another website (like your MySpace page), which means Habbo is a publishing site…


hang on there are also group spaces where people reinforce the identity of their group, so it is back to being a group space


We also have loads of fansites though, where lots of small individual groups achieve a common goal of producing a popular website that features Habbo content- it must be a participation space


Oh but I missed out that we are a virtual world


and thus a performing space… even though in this space you can also watch celebs perform in Habbo via our ‘Habbovision’ feature where 1000 Habbos can (only) watch the room together at the same time. Does this also make Habbo a watching space?

My conclusion then must be that Habbo is everything, although I don’t think the user would perceive this. The audience use Habbo for what they want to use it for. We also have an IM feature but people are always asking for MSN details, because they IM better than we do. Users define what a web service is but often this is a very blurred and individual perspective that is not useful in generalising what a web service is as “a way of describing social media spaces in a way that can be shared by both traditional media indies and digital media agencies.

Each social network that appears initially has a USP.  See http://www.myyearbook.com for the latest.  However what is seen time and time again is that when these services achieve a critical mass that they begin to offer ‘everything’ in order to meet all of the users needs simultaneously in order to keep them on the site for as long as possible.  This unravels the initial differentiation that they started with.  Facebook was a uni social network, but now just offers themselves to anyone.  MySpace has a slight differentiation in that it has a strong music focus, but you can now do this on Facebook anyway.  As people can use most of these sites, including Habbo, to do most of the same thing it does not make sense to focus categorisation on how it is used by the consumer.


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