Jimmy Wales on a Business Model for Social Networking

Question: Will social networking ever find a working business plan?

Jimmy Wales:  That’s a good question.  I mean, I guess, you know, in large part we’re talking about Facebook when we’re talking about looking for the magic bullet sort of business plan.  On the other hand, I don’t know if Facebook is profitable, I don’t know if they announced that or not, but I know they’re bringing in quite a large amount of money, and they spend it all on trying to make the site better.  So I’m not so sure that they need a magic bullet in order to survive.  Whether they can become sort of huge like Google.  I don’t know.  One of the interesting things about social networking is that it is very different from search in that there’re obvious and very explicit network externalities that you need to be on a certain social network, because all your friends are there.  And to move from that to another social network requires either abandoning your friends, or convincing them to come with you.  It’s non-trivial.  As opposed to if I find a better search engine, I just switch my browser’s default homepage and there I go, I’m off to the races on the new search engine.  SO I think that’s incredibly valuable from a business perspective.  From a consumer perspective, it’s something I would be concerned about.  That we all got locked into Microsoft for a long time, and lots of people still are, because of those same kinds of network externalities.  I needed a Windows computer, because all my friends had a Windows computer.  And that’s a problem.  That’s diminished over time, now.  I have also changed friends, so now I need an Apple computer, because all my friends have an Apple computer.  But the-- I think in the end, you know, we can look at something like MySpace, where there’re just-- I don’t know, in my opinion, they’re just milking it for money right now.  I mean, they monetize it like crazy!  There’s tons of ads all over it.  The whole site’s quite annoying.  Maybe I’m just too old to appreciate MySpace.  I don’t know, but I think there’re some interesting questions.  As far as some interesting and amazing new business models for Facebook, I don’t really see it, but what I do see is they’ve got all this valuable demographic data.  One of the things that we know is valuable for both advertisers and consumers is relevancy.  Certainly, right now Facebook does not particularly show me particularly relevant ads when they do show me ads, so I can’t think they’re performing very well.  But they’re getting better at that.  I mean, they’re getting a lot better of sort of allowing people to figure out who it is that they want to talk to, and who is it that’s receptive to their message, and then showing those ads.  And if they can do that, I think they’ll be very successful.

Recorded on: 04/30/2008

Will social networking sites ever find the magic bullet?

Is this why time speeds up as we age?

We take fewer mental pictures per second.

Photo by Djim Loic on Unsplash
Mind & Brain
  • Recent memories run in our brains like sped-up old movies.
  • In childhood, we capture images in our memory much more quickly.
  • The complexities of grownup neural pathways are no match for the direct routes of young brains.
Keep reading Show less

This is the best (and simplest) world map of religions

Both panoramic and detailed, this infographic manages to show both the size and distribution of world religions.

(c) CLO / Carrie Osgood
Strange Maps
  • At a glance, this map shows both the size and distribution of world religions.
  • See how religions mix at both national and regional level.
  • There's one country in the Americas without a Christian majority – which?
Keep reading Show less

Climate change melts Mount Everest's ice, exposing dead bodies of past climbers

Melting ice is turning up bodies on Mt. Everest. This isn't as shocking as you'd think.

Image source: Wikimedia commons
popular
  • Mt. Everest is the final resting place of about 200 climbers who never made it down.
  • Recent glacial melting, caused by global warming, has made many of the bodies previously hidden by ice and snow visible again.
  • While many bodies are quite visible and well known, others are renowned for being lost for decades.

The bodies that remain in view are often used as waypoints for the living. Some of them are well-known markers that have earned nicknames.

For instance, the image above is of "Green Boots," the unidentified corpse named for its neon footwear. Widely believed to be the body of Tsewang Paljor, the remains are well known as a guide point for passing mountaineers. Perhaps it is too well known, as the climber David Sharp died next to Green Boots while dozens of people walked past him- many presuming he was the famous corpse.

A large area below the summit has earned the discordant nickname "rainbow valley" for being filled with the bright and colorfully dressed corpses of maintainers who never made it back down. The sight of a frozen hand or foot sticking out of the snow is so common that Tshering Pandey Bhote, vice president of Nepal National Mountain Guides Association claimed: "most climbers are mentally prepared to come across such a sight."

Other bodies are famous for not having been found yet. Sandy Irvine, the partner of George Mallory, may have been one of the first two people to reach the summit of Everest a full thirty years before Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay did it. Since they never made it back down, nobody knows just how close to the top they made it.

Mallory's frozen body was found by chance in the nineties without the Kodak cameras he brought up to record the climb with. It has been speculated that Irvine might have them and Kodak says they could still develop the film if the cameras turn up. Circumstantial evidence suggests that they died on the way back down from the summit, Mallory had his goggles off and a photo of his wife he said he'd put at the peak wasn't in his coat. If Irving is found with that camera, history books might need rewriting.

As Everest's glaciers melt its morbid history comes into clearer view. Will the melting cause old bodies to become new landmarks? Will Sandy Irvine be found? Only time will tell.

<div class="ad-tag"> <div class="ad-tag__inner"> <div class="gallery_ad"></div> </div> </div>
Keep reading Show less