Sunday, October 14, 2007

Social networking and the Geocities fallacy

Marc Andreesen has done it again. His blog - - has been a treasure trove of information and commentary about startups, career building, platforms and much more. In nearly every case, Marc makes plain that the intellect and drive that brought Mosaic/Netscape into being followed by more than a few other substantial startups, including Loudcloud/Opsware (purchased by HP in September 2007 for $1.6B) and Ning, has not been dulled in the years since 1993 when Marc first developed Mosaic at NCSCA and suggested Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, give it a look.

This time, Andreesen directs his attention to the suggestions - by such illustrious commentators as the Wall Street Journal and Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer - that Facebook and social networks are really nothing more than Geocities with a few updating bells and whistles. Um, no. Social networking and the Geocities fallacy: "
Often wrong, never in doubt.

Social networking and the Geocities fallacy
OCT 4, 2007

When I take someone through Ning for the first time, 49 out of 50 people look up at some point and say brightly, 'Oh! It's like I can have my own Facebook!' or 'my own Myspace!' or 'my own Youtube!'. And I say 'yes!', smile, nod, and continue.

But every once in a while, I'll take someone through Ning and he or she will look up at some point and say brightly, 'Oh! It's just like Geocities!' And I say nothing, fake smile, grit my teeth, and resist the urge to throw myself out of the window.

A Geocities analogy to Ning, or any modern social networking service, is so screamingly wrong that I thought time passing -- and more people using social networking services -- would fix the small but nagging problem automatically.

I was incorrect.


alan said...

Tom - not to be a nitpicker or to show how darn old we are, but I don't think it was 2003 when Mark A first showed Mosaic to Tim B-L. Probably closer to 1993, I would guess.

Unless maybe you just put in the wrong date to make sure we are not sleeping and actually reading ;-)

Tom Higley said...

Good catch, Alan. Nice to know that some folks are readers (even careful readers). Thanks!