Is MySpace looking empty? Could Second Life die young?
By Yeoh Siew Hoon - thetransitcafe.com
Wednesday, 27th June 2007
Hot news today ~ vacant space tomorrow? 

Our writer looks at the prospects for three community based sites, once the toast of the newsmakers, now predicted to face an uncertain future.

So here's a question for you. Are sites like MySpace, Second Life and fads like Twitter doomed or are they the future to be embraced by all, skeptics included?

The answer from the editor, Reviews for PC Magazine, Lance Ulanoff, is clear. In a column in pcmag.com, he predicts the demise of MySpace, Second Life and Twitter by the end of this decade.

Says he, "These social networks are - or were - media darlings, and all are part of a new wave of Internet hyperbole. Though millions of dollars may not have been invested and lost on these enterprises, untold hours of airtime, pages of text, and human effort have been and continue to be wasted on each of them.

"Each site approaches the social-networking paradigm differently, yet they all share a common thread: overreaching ambition and impossible expectations. They live, to an extent, inside the second Internet bubble."

The first to go, he says, will be MySpace. "It has now suffered the same fate as the millions of personal Web sites that sprang up in the mid 1990s: It's huge, ugly, unmonitored, unrestrained, and pointless."

He says it is "filled with untold numbers of mostly empty site shells that will never be completed. In the 1990s, we called these "ghost sites".

"You would occasionally bump into one via search or, more often, through a cross-link from another personal Web site that was never updated. Today, these MySpace shells are like the garbage in an Internet landfill. There are so many that you can barely get to the good stuff—if there is any."

While he says MySpace is still considered a success, "there have been disturbing signs that all is not well in this bustling social network. More and more predators are using the site to prey on underage teens. And young adults are learning—the hard way—that their openness and journeys of self-discovery (and sexual experimentation) can attract unwanted attention. The result is that this network is changing from a playground to a minefield. Suddenly, MySpace's strength is also its greatest weakness. Thanks to Google and a very well-indexed MySpace, any perversity can be unearthed by the psychos of this world—and by potential employers."

He believes Second Life could just as easily be the first to go. "No one believes its reported participation numbers anymore, even though big companies, such as Circuit City and IBM, have built virtual stores (and Playboy is jumping in with both, er, feet this month). Some individuals are even claiming to make real-world money in there, but are they really?

Calling it "the equivalent of a virtual con", he says, "There's no doubt that it's enjoyed startling growth in the last year and a half, but that was driven, for the most part, by the laudatory press and media coverage it received. Companies herded like sheep to the platform, because they believed the hype. So did users. But reality is finally starting to trump perception. Companies' virtual stores sit empty, and there's no way they can measure if they're building any additional brand recognition simply by being there."

As for Twitter – a form of micro-blogging which allows you to tell anyone who's interested your answer to the question "What are you doing now?" in 140 characters or less (twitter.com) – Ulanoff says its demise "will certainly come before we hit 2011".

"It's the perfect example of Internet flash paper, and I suspect it will shine as brightly and briefly as this favorite magician's gimmick."

The UK Press Gazette meanwhile quoted Stuart Dredge, editor of Twitter blog twitterati.tv, as saying "the jury is still out on whether Twitter is a passing fad – but he says that journalists are some of the key people to have already "bought into" the concept".

And what does Ulanoff have to say to that? "Twitter is popular now because the Web cognoscenti are using it. This bunch of eggheads prides itself on irony and witticism. They treat the site like some sort of ongoing haiku contest. Well, folks, I have a haiku for you

Goodbye, bubble,


So long, overhyped nonsense

Till the next "Big Thing."

Twitter – or rather email us at coffee@thetransitcafe.com – to share your opinions with us.

Read readers comments at:


Yeoh Siew Hoon, one of Asia's most respected travel editors and commentators, writes a regular column on news, trends and issues in the hospitality industry for 4Hoteliers.com.

Siew Hoon, who has covered the tourism industry in Asia/Pacific for the past 20 years, runs SHY Ventures Pte Ltd. Her other writings can be found at www.thetransitcafe.com . Get your weekly cuppa of news, gossip, humour and opinion at the cafe for travel insiders.
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