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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Prediction of social networking doom and gloom

Lance Ulanoff of PC Magazine writes an opinion piece on the inevitable death of MySpace, Second Life, Twitter, and the whole lot of social networking sites.

Some highlights:

"MySpace could be the first to collapse. It has now suffered the same fate as the millions of personal Web sites that sprang up in the mid 1990s: It's huge, ugly, unmonitored, unrestrained, and pointless."

I take issue with his proclamation that MySpace is pointless; I would equate that to the idea that letter writing or putting my photos in an album are both pointless, too. Not buying it.

"Second Life could just as easily be the first to go. No one believes its reported participation numbers anymore, even though big companies, such as Circuit City and IBM, have built virtual stores (and Playboy is jumping in with both, er, feet this month). Some individuals are even claiming to make real-world money in there, but are they really?"

There might be some validity in the flaws Ulanoff highlights, but I think he neglected to take into account one important variable: innovation. If they sit, at stasis, until the end of the decade, these sites and utilities will probably lose their luster. But they're ever-evolving. The Facebook, for example, is shooting out new applications left and right. They're not solving global warming or emptying our prisons, but they are adding dimension to relationships. The new variety of closeness that we collectively have developed online won't go away, even if it does evolve into something different. But way to go for it on the prediction, Lance. I appreciate it.

Full article here


JoeGreenz said...

The very idea of what has a 'point' or not is central to this discussion.

In the world of central control there might be an individual who yanks the strings. But in the web 2.0 world it really doesn't work that way.

If I wake at five a.m., concerned about the state of housing for disadvantaged aboriginal people and want to express an opinion or idea - then freedom of expression is the point.

Even though Al Gore's pitch is contentious isn't it great that he not only felt it meant something, but that he had the means to say it?

Isn't that the point?

salina said...

I think that's part of the point--give me the bull horn--but another part is that of having other people out there to hear it. People who actually WANT to hear about aboriginal housing because they care about it--and thus the relationship develops.

If the internet was just people shouting messages into the ether, it would die out. People would get tired of yelling or being yelled at (spam) and we would move on. Social networks stave off that problem by keying into our natural human desire to gather and connect.

Thanks for commenting, David.

Brandi said...

I think the problem with interpreting the "pointless" MySpace comment is that the author really should be using "unfocused" instead. Flickr has a "point" because it allows you to post pictures and share them. When I say Flickr you know exactly what it can be used for. Facebook has a "point" because of the increased security controls. I use it as a means of posting my communication information for all to see. However, MySpace is seeming to become pointless when I can friend entities and not people and when it is so "open" and disorganized that it becomes an hinderance.

Second, while innovation does keep things going. I think that Second Life could be fast approaching that ceiling where innovation does not overcome the fact that the underlying concept isn't novel. Basically, Second Life is like a big chat room with prettier avatars and I think people are going to slowly realize that and move on to some other way of revamping chat rooms.

Jason P said...

The new facebook apps may be innovative, but does this mean they are relevant to enough people? Most people I know (I'm a year out of college, been on facebook for 3+ years) haven't jumped on the apps bandwagon. There's really just not a need/desire for them for most of my peers.

That said, a facebook app doesn't need to reach a million people to be successful. It will be interesting to see if companies realize this or if they will ignore the niche audiences and try to pour money into developing applications to reach the masses--a bad strategy, in my opinion.

salina said...

Jason, I haven't found the new apps to be particularly useful--but then again, I have been using the facebook for some time now, just like you.

And Brandi, I am not an avid myspace user exactly because of the perceived disorganization that I face when I go there. For music searches, it's pretty good, but I've never had great success finding friends' myspace pages. One thing is that I'd think myspace would be better off if it followed the airline ff model and cleaned out users who hadn't flown in 18 months and free itself of all the abandoned profiles.