Content Businesses vs. Context Businesses

Is MySpace a content business? They don't create, for their noncommercial users, any blog posts, photos, videos, backgrounds, etc. When you look at your friend's page, you're looking at their creations, their aggregations, mashups, links and friend connections.

So I guess that makes them a platform, right?

So what is Typepad? Or Wordpress? Platforms, too?

No, there's something fundamentally different about what you're seeing in MySpace, and moreover why you're seeing it, that makes it more than just a CMS. MySpace, because of its easy onramp for bands and autoplaying of music set a tone for what the site would be. Even over and above other social networks, this content influences the experience...it provides a context without being a pure content company.

Its not even just the features, because, when it comes down to it, social networks, blog platforms, photo sharing sites...they all basically have the same respective features.

But a little bit of content here and there provides contextn Lots of things can provide context...initial users, featured examples of usage, even advertisers, or just marketing. I mean, is there any reason why my a female friend of mine couldn't use SuicideGirls page to post "in action" softball photos or her and her athletic friends. Technically, its just a CMS, right?

A little starter content, the right initial userbase and marketing verbiage go a long way, and I think we often mistake these nudges and examples as the makings of content businesses, when all they do is provide context for user participation.

MySpace, Sugar Publishing, outside.in, SuicideGirls. DeviantArt, Takkle...they're all good examples of context companies that use a little bit of editing, content, marketing, look and feel...all things that are really difficult to quantify or explain to an investor... to provide shaping guidence for what should go on their sites.

The key is knowing how much content you need to grease the wheels with before you accidently become a content company yourself.