[UPDATE 10/31: Yesterday, William (PaPa) Meloney put it this way:
It is as if the world was too big, the universe too vast, the Internet too ... too something-or-other... we need to be members of some smaller order, some familiar covenant, some little comfort zone. We want to belong and the only way we can make that distinction for ourselves is with a small lapel pin label: FaceBookMySpaceEtAl. When in fact we are all engaged in the greatest social network known to mankind: The Internet.
I hadn't read Bill's post before writing my own, but I think they fit nicely together.]
Forgive me for the forgettable title on this post. I know there is money to be made aggregating eyeballs and herding clickers up the ramp like so many hogs on their way to becoming bacon. And I don’t begrudge Microsoft their interest in bringing home that bacon. But here’s my experience…
There’s something called a “Microsoft Passport,” at least there once was such a thing. It probably still exists. Everybody who bought that snake oil, raise your hands.
Shame on you.
The point is, if you had a “passport” you could take advantage of a hotmail account and play games in the Zone. You probably could also get a pastrami sandwich delivered (dark rye, lots of mustard), but as for me the mail and the Zone pretty much defined my relationship. Backgammon was free, and I could always use a somewhat anonymous email account to flame from. As time went on MSFT became pathetically desperate to monetize this stuff, and I fell away from them. But from ten or twelve years ago, to six or eight years ago, they sponsored a lot of my clickage online, at least for simple game playing.
On Facebook I play Scrabulous. It’s fabulous. I use the meetup-like features too, but I don’t need this stuff. The web is so much bigger, so much more empowering than the white and blue hospital room settings of Facebook. When we’re bored with Scrabulous, I guarantee my friends and I will move along to something else frivolous and likely free. As in beer. Not that I don’t know plenty of people who are stuffing their disposable income down the ratholes of WoW and iCrap, but these so called online communities exist because people are there, and people are fickle. We’ll blow out of there like blackbirds in the fall, no matter where there is. So when a corporation tries to nail this stuff down, they are simply playing fast and loose with their stockholders money, salary-men embarrassing themselves with a delusion of an investment with a payback horizon. Ain’t gonna happen.
Take Yahoo! I’m sure money rolls through there as fast as AT&T can launder it, but what’s the value proposition? Have these yahoos determined that because monstrous amounts were spent on twen-cen television advertising, it makes sense to spend that in the land of clicks and tricks? Why else try to bundle a customer relationship with ephemeral toys that we can as easily throw away and replace with free stuff if their efforts to monetize become too egregiously intrusive.
Bill Kinnon wrote this week,
The Facebook $15 Billion valuation is based on what you Facebookians are worth to marketers desperate to target consumers they can no longer easily access by traditional media exploits. Those of you who self-identify as Christians on Facebook can expect to be receiving targeted email from Zondervan, Christianity Today, EMI Music et al. Using information you may have thought was only viewable by people within your mini-network.
Bill goes on to quote the terms of service that we agree to be bound by when we sign up for a Facebook account… just your usual first-born, left testicle stuff.
Alan Herrell probably said it best last week:
The value of every one of these walled garden spots plummets in a direct proportion to the increase in membership. For those of you that have drunk the Kool Aid and want to argue, save your breath, I have been on the web longer than you have had pubic hair.
Now in the WEB(whatâ€™s your monetization(click-thru advertiser) strategy)2.0 world, Microsoft is going to be the exclusive ad server for Facebook. Good business move in the short term (help pay all those fines in the EU, and pump more marketing dollars into the Flatline OS Vista) as they really are the gang who couldnâ€™t shoot straight on their own properties, but the darkside is that they will be tracking every move and click across their new partners network. And yes they will sell your ass down the river.