Hmm. OK, so we all know that Murdoch isn't stupid. But I'm not entirely convinced of his visionary status either.
As the article points out, Viacom were after MySpace too. All Murdoch seems to have done is been a bit more decisive about having it. And Murdoch has always had a populist instinct : this is the guy who brought you The (UK) Sun, remember.
Then the article gets into the usual debate about the money to be made from MySpace. I'm sure there is a lot by my standards. But not as much as some people expect, given the number of visitors.
How will MySpace make a tonne of money? Comically, it seems that Murdoch himself either doesn't have an opinion or isn't letting on; so the journalist, Spencer Reiss, is reduced to reporting his own speculation as to how MySpace might become mega-profitable.
Umair's quote is interesting :
MySpace’s challenge is to do for branding what Google did for ads – to create a hyperefficient form of interaction.
It would be nice to know more, but Umair is now selling his more in-depth analysis, so I'll just have to make do with my own interpretation. Google, of course, have positioned themselves at the mutual border of the attention and money economies and get to charge a toll on people crossing in both directions. Ads are at that interface.
Branding is a little different. It's intention is to get inside the mind of potential buyers and create a strong but unspecific bias in favour of the company and its products.
The problem (for Murdoch) is that turning amateur ideas and community-spirit into feelings and biases can be done completely within the attention / IP (internet protocol) economy, not the dollar one. MySpace isn't at the border with the money economy. It's deep within the attention economy, where content creators pay illusory attention to their community when creating good stuff, and, in return, receive real attention and acclaim.
Murdoch doesn't need to flow much money through the system to make that happen, but when there's no great flow of money, there's little that can be skimmed off of it.
Update : It's a Wired tradition to laude big media when they (finally) "get" the internet and start trying to buy their way in. Anyone remember this? (From Bubble 1.0)