OK, the new MySpace open source project is not called FoxForge.
Just because News Corp. owns something does not mean everything on it gets the Fox logo or the Fox attitude.
(After writing this I decided to check out the Web address FoxForge.com and found this cute little guy next to an "under construction" sign and an address at Lycanthrope.net. At last check Foxforge.org was still available.))
In fact the MySpace open source offering is called Qizmt. It's a GPLv3 MapReduce project aimed at building distributed applications for large clusters of Windows servers.
The software is already being used in a MySpace feature called "People You Know," writes our own Dave Rosenberg, and MySpace has plans to expand its use.
While this story started with snark, however, I do have a serious question to ask, which relates to both MySpace and Microsoft's CodePlex. That is, does the ownership of a project color your view of it?
Would Facebook have overtaken MySpace had Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. not bought its parent company, Intermix, in 2005, with a prediction that MySpace would drive traffic to other Fox sites.
I believe the answer to that is no.
The reason is the nature of this medium. You may not care whether a movie comes from 20th Century Fox, or whether the Fox TV network is broadcasting your favorite NFL team this week. But on the Internet it's easy to walk out. The exit sign is just a mouse click away.
Thus reputation is a crucial asset online, far more important than in the offline world. If you like someone you are inclined to stay with them despite their faults. If you don't like them you are inclined to not give them a chance.
This colors attitudes toward all Microsoft projects, including CodePlex and its Bing search engine. I take that for granted on this beat. You're either pro-Microsoft or anti-Microsoft. Middle ground is scarce.
The same is true for Murdoch. People either like his products or hate them. They rush toward them or avoid them. There is little middle ground. This defines a strong niche market, but also makes other parts of the market off-limits.
I believe this colored attitudes towards the music-oriented social network and, unfortunately, most of the target for that product lived in an "anti-Murdoch" world. The question is how that might color reactions toward Qizmt (which I assume is pronounced Kismet, like the Rogers & Hammerstein musical).