MyLife, Trying To Fight The Walled Garden

MyLife appears to be another one of those one stop search for it all sites that has a lot of promise with it’s Reunion.com and Wink merger. The only issue I see already is that they are promising to link up all these wall gardened sites. You may have read in the past week or so, even social networks such as Facebook can’t seem to agree on their own TOS.

The list of agreed sites to participate are as follows:

Among those social networks it can search are MySpace, Facebook (well, the public profile listings thereof), LinkedIn, Friendster, AOL’s Bebo, Microsoft’s Windows Live Spaces, Yahoo, and Twitter.

I can see Friendster having no issue with this. AOL Bebo needs this. Yahoo would benefit. LinkedIn, while built with social in mind, is more of a job search/networking site on steroids. Let’s explore some of the wall gardens below as well as twitter.

Tweet this, twitter that

Let’s stop for a minute and think about the benefit’s of twitter being open to this. First initial reaction would be – They may as well with as many twitter apps coming out daily, there shouldn’t be a reason why they would say “No, thanks, we don’t want to participate.” But think about it further, as in – Wouldn’t this just clutter up their own agenda?

Maybe there is a reason to keep twitter free from MyLife. For one thing, twitter is doing fine and becoming more mainstream every single day without any MyLife branded all in one search. They have their own system of searching, as well as a new beta search that is being tested by certain users only. They even have startups that use the hashtag method just fine, such as hashtags.org. So what benefits would twitter have of being in this MyLife one stop search service? None. And I can see them opting out.

What Walled Garden?



Social stopping points such as MySpace and Facebook couldn’t even agree to let Meebo use their supposedly now open connection until they resolved some issue. Maybe the landscape is finally changing, and these walled gardens of social interaction are actually becoming human like social! Facebook seems to want to keep up some guise of openness mixed in with walled garden when they feel like it. MySpace, still the biggest social network worldwide with some problems in China, seems content at keeping everything inside the garden for the time being.

It’s almost an oxymoron to call them social networks when they live inside the wall they have built. Walls were originally built for keeping people out, such as the Great Wall of China. But they also work nicely to keep people in. One of the main things that these social societies of MySpace and Facebook tend to forget is the fact that social people are not going to put up with living by only one standard. In order to be truly social, these countries or social networks have to get along.

And what about Bebo/AOL? It appears that they have learned the lesson of lesser of two evils. They realized in order to win at this social networking game, they would just all have to get along. To not get along and start working together will only mean the demise of one or the other. The AOL Bebo merger this past week was probably one of the smartest moves by both companies that I have seen in a long time. With all that being said, it makes sense for AOL Bebo to use this service.

Will It really Stick?

Yes, I forgot to mention Yahoo. For now, we need to leave that one alone. Microsoft is still toying with Yahoo every other week, like how you use a laser pointer to tease a cat. Yahoo has some reported and speculated big changes upcoming tomorrow. So for now, Yahoo gets a break on being analyzed.

As far as the main question goes for MyLife, that would be in my mind – Will this work this time? It has been tried too many times in the past, and has failed. The failure of course is due to wall garden networks, as well as lack of interest.

In order for this to work, they can’t rely on the older crowd as they state. Reunion.com seems to think they have millions of users, but of those millions – how many of them are active users? How many of them are really loyal users? Personally I only know ONE person in real life that uses that site and pays for it! Yes, she fits into this older crowd, but here is the problem – you would have to convince her that a one stop search site is something worth her time.

MyLife targets a demographic older than the Facebook set. Out of its user base, 90 percent are over the age of 25 and 60 percent are over the age of 35. That’s because its focus is on tracking down people with whom you’ve lost touch, Tinsley said.

Relying on one demographic to build your site out is not only foolhardy, it’s downright putting you in a dead pool before you get started. Not only that, the final statement from the above quote, there are other sites out there that do this already, and do it well such as 123people – a site that I personally used to find two people that I couldn’t fine anywhere else! Also in that running is PeopleBrowsr, which I haven’t used much.

If the argument is that Reunion.com and Wink will be MyLife which will be the new player of total search. And they believe their core user base will carry them to the promise land of success, I think they need to re-think their strategy a bit. Running with that belief full on is sure to lead to some early broken hearts down the road (FAIL).

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