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MySpace’s Tom Anderson Humbly Describes What Could Be Google’s Social Problem

It seems that on Google+ we are getting a lot more great information out of Tom Anderson, founder and first friend on MySpace, then we did when he was our friend on MySpace.  Here’s a guy that created one of the first successful social networking sites that is actually taking a step back and just being social these days.  I mean he doesn’t ever have to work again in his life but here and now he’s actually full on participating in Google+.  In an editorial he wrote for TechCrunch this past weekend Anderson says he uses Facebook as much as Google+ however his timelines tell a different story.

In his editorial Anderson sheds some light on what may have gotten in the way of Google’s success in it’s two previous social networking projects, Buzz and Orkut.  Anderson writes in his TechCrunch piece

Google is an algorithm driven-company. “PageRank” (named after Larry Page himself) was the “founding algorithm” of Google—the one that gave it superior search results, and eventually led to Google “winning” the search wars of the early 2000s. The algorithm continues to evolve—in fact, it’s Google’s most important work—and by some accounts, it includes more than 500 million variables and 2 billion terms to perform its magic.

More after the break

Anderson goes on to compare Facebook “secret algorithmic” approach to content feeds, while highlighting the fact that right now G+ is totally user controlled. Anderson is hoping that Google doesn’t make a misstep and move to a more algorithmic approach on Google+ and they continue to let the user have the final say.  He’s hopeful that Google engineers are working on ways to strengthen the user controlled experience rather than tapping their algorithmic logic base to put G+ on auto pilot. One of the great steps in this direction is the availability to let users mute posts that they don’t want to see in their feed anymore.

Google is responding to user feedback which is evident in the last few updates to the Google+ Android app. Google’s early adopter users of G+ know what ticks for them and what may work in the future for others. Take user John Hicks for instance, he has asked Google’s Vic Gundotra to implement collapsed posting so that the post can still stay in the stream but you don’t have to see the mile long replies unless of course you want to.  It’s feedback like this which is to date, defining the Google+ experience.

What’s even more interesting is how humble Anderson is in his editorial.  Although your thoughts on MySpace may differ Anderson is definitely an authority on social media. In fact he says that even during his tenure at the helm of MySpace, they still committed suicide.

I suspect that people believe that social networking is a “winner take all” endeavor, because they mistakenly assume people “left MySpace for Facebook.” Facebook didn’t kill Myspace; MySpace “committed suicide” through continual mismanagement. (For what it’s worth, I include myself in that group of mismanagers and I don’t mean to blame any single individual—the troubles were tremendous.  I’ll explain it somewhere else, someday.) Likewise, MySpace did not “kill Friendster”—Friendster had its own set of problems. If they’d been corrected, I believe both MySpace and Facebook would have thrived as different types of social networks. (In fact, Friendster basically would have been “Facebook”—a real name network, focused on real-world relationships for efficient communication.) (source: TechCrunch)

At this point, despite MySpace’s problems, we’re hoping that Google is still friends with Tom and that they take to heart the fact that a true pioneer in social media has hit the nail on the head.  Anderson closes out his editorial by questioning if social is in fact in Google’s DNA.

Please read the entire piece, it’s awesome, right here

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