Is Facebook overtaking MySpace?

Eric Eldon, writing over at Matt Marshall’s VentureBeat site, had a story yesterday that I must admit surprised me, even though I’ve sort of been assuming that Facebook is growing like a weed — my 17-year-old daughter and all her friends have signed up over the past few months, and so have I and many of my surprisingly youthful-looking friends. Unless we’re an anomaly (which I expect we’re not) then that means a lot of growth.

snipshot_d4hwggk61g3.jpgBut Eric’s numbers show more than just a lot of growth: he says that Facebook’s page views have risen from about one billion a day (yes, that’s one billion every day — try saying it with a Doctor Evil sneer) to about 1.5 billion a day in just the last month. That’s a half a billion page views, growth of 50 per cent, in a single month. Some of that could be due to features the site has introduced recently, including the “virtual gift” store, which would tend to increase page views, but still. The mind boggles. Even Plenty of Fish founder Marcus Frind, whose dating site gets some pretty incredible traffic itself, seems impressed by those numbers, saying Facebook is “growing the size of plentyoffish every 2 days.”

Traffic of 1.5 billion page views a day could put them ahead of MySpace, at least according to this comment from a Fox Interactive executive in January. Eric says that Facebook told him it now has about 20 million registered users, up from 7.5 million users last July. That’s growth of almost 200 per cent in less than a year. And the charts that Eric includes in his post, from eMarketer, also tell a story (I’ve reproduced one here). He also has some cellphone snapshots of graphs that were displayed at a presentation attended by Dave “Dave Mc500hats” McClure, and they show parabolic growth, particularly in the 18-24 age group.

Consider for a moment that MySpace, according to one analyst, is making about $1-million every day on ads. Does anyone still think that Facebook was wrong to turn down that rumoured $2-billion takeover offer from Yahoo? I don’t.

Congrats, Mike — nice April Fool prank

It seems Mike Arrington has gotten the last laugh on more than a few bloggers — with his announcement that he has bought Even Dave Winer got reeled in by the news. I don’t know for sure, but I’m willing to bet that Mike got the idea after reading the Valleywag post about the sale of Fuckedcompany, which suggested Mike should buy it (my friend Steve O’Hear at ZDNet figured out the gag too).

fc300.pngMike’s post on the “acquisition” was a masterpiece. But there were some clues amidst the press-release-style delivery, including comments like: “the audiences are about equal in size and have very little overlap.” That one set off a warning bell for me — if has the same size audience as TechCrunch, I thought, then I am Darth Vader. Mike also said that “its clear that we are at the tail end of the current boom (disregard recent statements I’ve made to the contrary).” Ding! He also said “there just isn’t the “wow” factor around new startups like in 2004/2005. That does not bode well for the future – there just isn’t anything left to invent.” Ding!

Near the end of the post, Mike says that “we will likely move new startup coverage, which will be a secondary consideration going forward, to a new blog over time. TechCrunch and FuckedCompany will begin to mirror each other’s content.” Good one, Mike. Happy April Fool’s to you too.


In other April Fool’s-related news, Ionut. Alex Chitu has word of a new Google offering called Google Writer that will automate blog posting for you, Markus Frind says his dating site Plenty of Fish and eHarmony are merging, Google itself has announced Gmail Paper for sending paper-based mail, as well as Google TiSP, a plumbing-based wireless system for your house. And Google blogger Matt Cutts’ blog has apparently been hacked by the Dark SEO gang. Wikipedia has more here.

Cut the power cords that bind you

Is wireless power about to become a reality? It sure sounds that way, according to a piece in Business 2.0 magazine about a company called Powercast, which says it has developed a way of powering devices (albeit fairly low-voltage ones for now) without power cords or bricks. And electronics giant Philips has signed a deal with Powercast to bring its technology to market.

snipshot_d4178gifo0i7.jpgIt may sound incredible — and Ben Metcalfe seems to think it’s an April Fool’s joke come early — but wireless power is not a fantasy. In fact, the eccentric genius Nikolai Tesla, who invented alternating current or AC power, was pretty close to developing wireless power around the turn of the century, but didn’t quite make it — in part because his financial backer, J.P. Morgan, pulled out. It’s possible that his feud with fellow genius Thomas Edison (who favoured direct current power) had something to do with it, but I can’t say for sure.

And there is already what amounts to a wireless-power company, a company called, which uses adapters that attach to electrical devices, and then charges those devices whenever they are placed on a special mat. But that involves actual contact between the device and the mat — Powercast says it can broadcast power to devices up to six feet away, through relatively small and inexpensive chips the size of a dime.

(in unrelated news, some guy likes to build giant Tesla coils in his garage).

Good or bad? Wrong question

Aaron Swartz is an interesting guy. One of the co-founders of Reddit, the Digg-like recommendation engine that was recently bought by the Conde Nast magazine-publishing empire, his blog often has long and thoughtful posts with a refreshingly different perspective. His latest is no exception: In a post entitled “Everything Good is Bad For You,” he writes about what he sees as the downside of Web services like Twitter, and even Reddit itself.

snipshot_d4gj20bm1iv.jpgAfter Reddit became popular, Aaron says, people came up to him and said how much they enjoyed using it, but also talked about how it had destroyed their productivity and consumed their lives. Many people have said the same about YouTube or MySpace or Facebook — and how they spend all their time updating their profile or checking their friend requests or scanning for pictures — and is the latest addition to the family of time-wasting, attention-destroying applications, Aaron suggests. He quotes Cory Doctorow as saying: “It’s like watching someone shovel Mars Bars into his gob while telling you how much he hates chocolate.” Aaron argues that Reddit and Twitter and other tools are the equivalent of chocolate bars.

Peter Caputa at pc4media makes an even stronger argument, saying the tech blogosphere is “just a bunch of surface skimming idiots in a bar w/ no alcohol, and that it’s “mostly Michael Arrington’s fault.” At some point, he says, companies have to “gaze beyond your own navel and come up with a business model; an application that connects people in meaningful ways to accomplish goals beyond instant self-gratification.”

I think Aaron and Peter are both right, in a sense. It’s easy to get consumed by things like Twitter or Facebook or even instant messaging for that matter, and they are a little like junk food — fast, sugar high, illusion of being full, etc. And yet, I can’t agree completely. Why? As a commenter notes on Aaron’s blog, a lot of novels are crap too, and probably just as bad for you (don’t get me started on television). Is reading a blog any worse than reading a potboiler detective novel? I don’t know, but it’s a pretty close race.

In the end, I think a lot of the things we’re seeing are experiments, and no one really knows whether they will actually be useful or not, or what they really *mean* in the larger sense. I do know that things like Twitter and Facebook and MySpace connect people in ways that novels do not — I’m not saying that’s necessarily better. Just saying.

Huffington sees blend of old and new

Arianna Huffington, whose Huffington Post is working on a “citizen media” venture with (which I wrote about in an earlier post), has an interesting perspective on the future of newspapers in a recent post. She describes how she and her friends are Web junkies, but still like to read a printed paper — although they print out different versions of papers from around the world, using

Then she describes what she sees as the future:

“Those papers that wake up in time will become a journalistic hybrid combining the best aspects of traditional print newspapers with the best of what the Web brings to the table.”

“Chomping down on a story and refusing to let go is what bloggers do best. And while the vast majority of material that ends up being blogged about still originates with a mainstream news source, more and more stories are being broken by online news sources.”

“So stop writing teary-eyed eulogies for newspapers. The only thing dead is the either/or nature of the musty print vs online debate. The hybrid future is kicking down the door. It’s time to let it in and fully embrace it.”

Hat tip to Roy Greenslade of the Guardian for spotting that one — he has his own take on it here. For whatever it’s worth, I think Arianna nails it pretty well.

In other Huffington news, Rachel Sklar of Eat The Press has a great overview of a panel she was on at the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ conference, along with Katherine Graham of the Washington Post and Barry Diller of IAC. Thanks to Rob Hyndman for that link.

Loren Feldman passes the mesh test

As my friend and fellow mesh organizer Mark Evans notes over here, New York’s video-blogging ninja master Loren Feldman of 1938media is coming to mesh — although as Loren mentions on his blog, we had to accede to a rather long list of demands before he would agree to grace us with his presence.

For any of you not familiar with Loren, his video blogging usually involves a stark, in-your-face, blunt assessment of someone’s shortcomings, something the British refer to as “taking the piss” and New Yorkers refer to as “talking.” A prime recent example was the clip below about Jeff Jarvis, which is right on that fine line between cruel and hilarious — territory that Loren pretty much owns.

Although he is part of Podtech now, like Robert Scoble, that hasn’t stopped Loren from taking shots at the Scobleizer, or at Jason Calacanis, or pretty much anyone else for that matter. If you know Ze Frank at all, just think of Loren as the anti-Ze — or like Ze with a five-day growth of beard (and occasionally without a shirt) and a really bad hangover.

Thanks to all who meshed

Another great mesh meetup last night at the Charlotte Room, complete with plenty of beverages, snacks, pool tables and great conversation. Thanks to all who came — and especially to podcaster extraordinaire Leesa Barnes, who brought her podcasting bag of tricks and hopefully caught some great ideas being born amid all the meshing.

Hopefully some photos will be making their way into various places — I know Rannie Turingan was taking some because I saw them on his Facebook group (it’s here if you are a Facebook user), and I saw Will Pate snapping some pics as well.

If you have some photos and they’re at Flickr or Photobucket or whatever, just send me an email at [email protected] and I’ll link to them here — and over at the mesh blog as well — and if you have a blog post about it, feel free to do the same. Mark has some more details at Maple Leaf 2.0.

HuffPost and join forces

Jay Rosen, the online journalism veteran behind — an experiment in “crowdsourcing” journalism, or “citizen reporting” or whatever you want to call it — announced earlier this week that NewAssignment and the Huffington Post are collaborating on a new journalism venture aimed at covering the upcoming U.S. elections.

Jay posted about it on his own blog, but has also written about it in a guest-post on Marc Glaser’s blog at PBS. As he describes it:

“Our idea is not complicated: it’s campaign reporting by a great many more people than would ever fit on the bus that the boys (and girls) of the press have famously gotten on and off every four years, as they try to cover the race for president.”

In other words, instead of just one or two reporters trailing John Edwards or Rudy Giuliani or whoever, the idea is to have dozens of people tracking different parts of each campaign, filing to blogs and stories and other formats, and then aggregating all of that and editing it and posting the best of it somewhere like Huffington Post.

Arianna Huffington’s post on the new venture is here. As she describes it:

“We are recruiting large groups of citizen journalists from around the country to cover the major presidential candidates. Each of these volunteer reporter/bloggers will contribute to a candidate-specific group blog — offering written updates, campaign tidbits, on-the-scene observations, photos, or original video.”

Ms. Huffington says that this is “the wisdom of crowds hits the campaign trail,” and that hopefully such a venture will avoid the kind of group-think reporting that the mainstream media can become guilty of at times, adding that “Exhibit A is, and will always be, the press’ shameful lack of questioning during the run-up to the war in Iraq.”

SkypePal makes its appearance, finally

At the mesh meetup we had at the Charlotte Room tonight, I ran into Jim Courtney of Skype Journal and he said he had just finished posting something interesting about the new Skype beta — and he was right. It seems that not only is the client being improved, but eBay is finally starting to achieve some of the synergies that many observers were hoping for when it bought the VoIP service for $4-billion or so way back when.

skype.pngAccording to knowledgeable people like Jim and Iotum co-founder Alec Saunders, who posted on it here, among the things that Skype has improved is the sound quality of the application. Now, the sound is apparently just as good with the regular mike and speakers you get with a PC as it is with a dedicated headset or other equipment, which will be a big boon for regular users.

Jim says he suspects that Skype is making use of new codec technology they acquired awhile ago. They’ve also made it possible to take a snapshot with your video cam to use as a profile picture, and you can import contacts from more mail clients than before.

But for me, the biggest move with this beta is the fact that you can now click and send money to contacts via PayPal — which was one of the no-brainer synergies that I expected would have happened a long time ago. Maybe there was some technical issue holding it up, I don’t know. But finally it’s possible.

My favourite story today

For some unknown reason, my favourite story today out of all the RSS feeds I plowed through was this one from the Telegraph (via, about a Russian gangster who built a gigantic, 13-storey wooden house — or at least the skeleton of one — almost single-handedly before being thrown in jail for extortion and emerging penniless. He’s now living in four rooms on the main floor and the townsfolk (not surprisingly) want the eyesore torn down. A Telegraph writer got a tour of the structure, and the photo gallery is priceless.

russian house.jpg