Let me start by saying I love(d) the Economist and read it front-to-back on every flight I take. It’s well written and I *assumed* well researched. However, after reading a bizarrely inaccurate story on AOL I posted a response to the facts.
It seems my comments on the Economist’s highly inaccurate, AOL-bashing story have paid off. In the process of correcting the story I’ve uncovered exactly what I suspected: the author spun the facts to slam AOL. Check out this comment, in which the highly-respected Kevin Werbach says the reporter misused his quotes.
Note: One of the reporters on the story, Tamzin Booth, contacted me by email. I’d love to hear her defend the story in the comments below.
It was interesting to read how that piece came out. I told the reporter I was a contrarian on the topic, and actually thought AOL was well-positioned. He used the one (backward-looking) negative sentence of my 3-paragraph email, and vaguely paraphrased the rest.
Anyway, my point was that “social network” does not equal “Friendster/MySpace”. And that AOL actually has all the hard-to-acquire assets and experience it will take to monetize social software in the broad sense.
As you point out, no one expects much of AOL these days, which is a good place to be. Keep in mind that Yahoo! was seen as a dog 3 years ago, until Semel & Co. turned things around. Good luck….