Dec. 14, 2006 -- An interesting online milestone occurred in November: MySpace overtook Yahoo as the No. 1 most-viewed site on the Internet, according to comScore Media Metrix.
The numbers are staggering: There were 38.7 billion -- yes, billion -- page views for MySpace versus 38.1 billion for Yahoo, and again, that was just for November.
It's fascinating to see how the Internet has evolved. Who knew that simply socializing online could change the Internet?
"This is not your daddy's Internet," said Don Tapscott, founder and CEO of business think tank New Paradigm. Of course given how long the Internet has been around this would mean "your daddy" is about 15 years old.
Tapscott wrote the book, literally, on "Growing Up Digital" and has a new book soon to be released called "Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything."
As he wound through traffic in Vancouver, he discussed the evolution of the Internet.
"This is Internet 2.0," Tapscott said. The Internet, he said, is evolving from a "presentation platform" to "a community platform model."
From Research Tool to Social Networking and Beyond
What used to be a place where you went to find a telephone number, look up an obscure fact, or access a library is quickly becoming a much different beast.
It's a place where people now log in to virtual clubs, and keep up with friends, their favorite bands, TV shows, and maybe even discover something totally new, unexpected and hilariously funny.
MySpace being the most-viewed site cements the idea that the Internet is rapidly evolving from where it started.
Yahoo was one of the first big names online.
"It was an important Web site in the mid-'90s," said Harry McCracken, vice president and editor in chief of PC Online World. The MySpace numbers, McCracken said, "represents a sea change" in new technology.
That sea change is not lost on Yahoo.
Reema Bahnasy, who handles public relations for Yahoo, stressed that the company was evolving in ways that made it look much different today than in it did in those old days of the mid-'90s.
"Yahoo has adopted new technologies that make it easier -- more elegant -- for the user to navigate so that the site doesn't generate as many page views as it once did," Bahnasy said.
Evolving Ways to Measure Web Success
Bahnasy was also quick to point out that Yahoo had far more unique users than any other Web site out there.
That means more individuals are still accessing Yahoo than MySpace. However, MySpace users spend more time surfing around from page to page.
But the way people are using the Internet is changing, and a page view versus a unique viewers isn't what it once was.
Both Tapscott and McCracken agreed that measuring page views and unique viewers was a little like the old media still applying an old metric to something that we still don't fully understand.
In simple terms, people are using the Internet in different ways today, and measuring that usage is not as simple as measuring any single statistic.
Peter Levinsohn, president of Fox Interactive Media -- which bought MySpace last year for $580 million -- said the new ranking was "a testament to our strategy of putting the consumer first and creating an integrated platform and tools that enable people to express themselves, connect with others, and engage in the best in music, film, TV, sports, games and information."
In other words, the Internet is moving in on your TV, computer, theater, video store, iPod, and maybe even that Starbucks down the street.
The question still hangs out there whether Fox will ever see a return on its investment.
Analysts say that MySpace still hasn't figured out how to make money from those billions of monthly page views.
Ann Burkart, who handles public relations for Fox and MySpace, took exception to this allegation and started ticking off a litany of ways in which MySpace could make money through efforts other than banner ads.
So Myspace has turned a profit then? Burkart wouldn't confirm.
How to Turn Page Views Into Profits
The fact is analysts aren't sitting up at night worrying about how MySpace or Yahoo are going turn page views or unique viewers into profits.
Both companies have tens of millions of people online at any moment who increasingly rely on them for information, communication, shopping and entertainment.
When asked whether he felt sorry for News Corp.'s billionaire chief, Rupert Murdoch, as he tried to figure how to get a return on his MySpace investment, Tapscott said it was all about "the next step."
Tapscott offered one juicy possibility.
"MySpace has hundreds of millions of users and 30,000 unsigned musicians," he said. "There must be a way to make money from that."