NewsCorp has just announced that they will be purchasing Intermix Media, the owner of the popular MySpace.com social networking site, for $580 million USD. Of course, this is not the first big acquisition of a social networking service, as some time back, Google purchased the popular Orkut.
With these strategic purchases, I find myself wondering if these are such formalized networks are the ones with the most overall value. What about the networks that have no portal boundaries? As I look to the hundreds of blogs in my aggregator, I realize that this this is my social network, and part of what makes it so valuable is that the voices, content and formats used by the many authors are so diverse and not restricted by the specifics of a portal. Sure, social networking services make it easy to connect to those within the network, but fairly impossible to connect to people outside of the service … and while I won’t downplay the value, ultimately it’s a world with possibilities limited by the captive population itself.
So will people continue to flock to social networking portals? Is the greatest value within these microworlds? (I wonder if there will ever be interoperability between such worlds?) Or, as individuals become increasingly tech and network-savvy, will the greater possibility lie outside these worlds, within open structures and between loose connections?
So what is the value of my loosely connected network of acquaintances, friends, academics, newswriters, bloggers, etc.? At least $580 million, and rising at every moment.