Viacom tries for a network of networks

I had almost forgotten about the rumours from six months or so ago that media and entertainment giant Viacom had bought a stake in Tagworld, a MySpace-style social network that I tried a few times and quite liked, but which never really seemed to get much traction, despite being well-desgined. Now it appears the rumours were true: Viacom has used the company’s technology to build micro-networks for its various brands.

According to the description on TechCrunch and in a Fortune magazine piece written by my old pal Richard Siklos, Viacom is not trying to create a simple MySpace knockoff — which I give them credit for. What they are trying to do, however, sounds much more difficult in a way: they are creating micro-hubs for artists, shows and channels (such as MTV and The Comedy Channel), and then allowing users of one network to move content and profiles and other data in between the different sub-networks.

The project is called Flux, and it apparently includes not just Viacom properties and portals but also other non-Viacom sites such as the website for the band The Pussycat Dolls and a skateboarding site called As Richard notes, users of an MTV site can even copy and paste videos or other content from their MTV pages to a MySpace page.

In effect, Viacom is doing the opposite of what MySpace has done, and is trying to tie together existing networks rather than creating its own. “We’re not trying to own a social network, build one, or compete with one,” says MTV Networks CEO Judy McGrath. “We’re embracing them all.” PaidContent, meanwhile, says the Flux project is old news, and that Viacom is just cobbling together old projects and trying to make them seem like a coherent strategy.

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