13 May 2012


I’ve been trying to catch up on things backed up in social media, like Twitter, Facebook, and lately Linked In. I used to ignore or trash requests for the latter as I initially thought it was only for career advancement, job prospects and connections which I didn’t need, but I’ve come to realize that this is the only one that actually pretty accurately “suggests” people you actually know or have a lot in common with, unlike say, Facebook. If you’ve read what I’ve written previously about the latter you know I don’t think much of its long-term prospects or IPO. Facebook basically does what AOL did much better more than a dozen years ago, without some of the inane juvenile rules. Back then people were much more reticent about posting their personal information or pictures (which also wasn’t that easy to share at the time) and usually went by screen names, But at the same time it was a lot easier to find and organize common interests, groups, and discussions.

However AOL was a closed system in its heyday. It all happened within the network, and when the Internet started to boom people left for the larger universe and AOL stumbled, missing the boat when people eventually contracted again into another closed system with Facebook. Before that there was MySpace, which lost out because it allowed pages that blasted music and loaded ever so slowly due to a lot of graphics and had a cumbersome linking system, and by the time it corrected all of that people had moved on to Facebook with its simple interface (at least until it started imposing those awful timelines). But history shows that closed systems don’t last, and people will break out again to something else. This has been true going all the way back to old Compuserve in the pre-Internet era. In those days you had to sign up with one out of several mutually exclusive competing systems and it was costly because you paid by the hour. 

Now everyone’s on Facebook, because... everyone’s on Facebook. But it isn’t the Internet, and sooner or later people will break out again when something else comes along that allows greater freedom and there’s not a smarmy kid somewhere sanctioning you for doing something wrong with your account. For the moment it has displaced a large number of other services, like say Classmates. Why bother when everyone’s on Facebook? But trust me, that won’t last. You can already see that with something like Linked In, which serves a particular purpose well (although it can be kind of funny when you see the things  that some people are “CEO” of, or who insist on headlining themselves as “Visionary” and are serious about it). But as soon as someone comes up with a simple way for people to have their own URLs or equivalent on the Internet the exodus will begin again.

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