Users fleeing MySpace?

from the actics blog

After Rupert Murdoch and NewsCorp invested $580 million in MySpace, young users are fleeing the site. (Read more here) The reasons are primarily three. One, MySpace is getting “old hat”: You don’t want to keep doing what everybody did a year ago. Two, the fact that the site is going mainstream (since Rupert bought it) means that it is no longer cool and alternative. There are many other sites who are. Three, since the site has gone mainstream, teachers, parents and policemen have begun surveying profiles searching for signs of sexual promiscuity alcohol and drug abuse, and other naughty things. That way MySpace is no longer the free space it originally was. (This is crucial since, as Danah Boyd has documented one of the reasons American teenagers used MySpace in the first place was that schools, shopping malls and other physical places are now so surveyed and controlled that they offer very few opportunities for spontaneous and free social interaction.)

Users fleeing MySpace is a good illustration of a key contradiction in informational capitalism. Companies recognize that innovation and other forms of immaterial wealth is often best produced by users themselves- be this technological innovation or affective innovation, the innovation of new forms of life, like MySpace. Consequently the best way to make money is to try to appropriate and valorize this immaterial wealth. But that very move brings these innovations into the mainstream, saturate them with advertising, censor them (like Google might have to do with all the copyrighted material on YouTube) and generally make them less attractive. Consequently, the users, who make up the true labour force in this immaterial economy, flee to other, not yet commercialized venues. Maybe the great by-outs of Web 2.0 platforms that we have seen recently are a sign of the inability of cooperate capitalism to digest this new productive force?

see also the forthcoming issue of Ephemera for some good stuff on MySpace