Monday, September 10, 2007

The Future of Social Networks…

The future of most social networks is advertising (or spamming). As social networks evolve into giant ad machines, user control, privacy matters and user fatigue will determine how successful or long-living any social networking site is.

1. Transparency as a fetish for the A - Crowd
Continuing with her analysis of Facebook, as it morphs into a ‘YASNS' (yet another social networking site), becoming another Myspace clone in the end, Danah Boyd has this to say about the A-list tech bloggers’ call for transparent online identities (I wonder they have to say about their online activities)

I think that one of the reasons that the tech crowd loves Facebook is because they both want the "transparent society." This is the philosophy that information dissemination can only be beneficial and that people should not seek to hide things. Embedded in this are unstated issues of privilege and normative views.

It's OK to be transparent when you look like everyone else, but go ask the gay Christian living in an Arab state how he feels about being transparent about his social world. Fleshing out a critique of the transparent society requires a different post, but I'm starting to get the sinking feeling that we're all part of a transparent society experiment and my discomfort stems from a deep concern about who all is going to get washed up in that tsunami.

Like real-world politicians, A-listers are always hungry for a cause and I suspect some people are latching onto transparency as an easy way to be more popular. A-listers hanker for transparency because they want to show off their ‘following’ on social networking sites.

A commenter on Danah’s site says about Scoble and the future of social networking sites as ad platforms
Scoble… is using FaceBook incorrectly and spreading a message that everyone who wants to be like him should do the same thing he is doing, becoming a living breathing form of advertisement. The transition of FaceBook from something for you and your friends to a form of advertising is already beginning to happen.

2. In spite of technology, humans can never be Cylons

Danah goes on to explain why some people are so intent on transparency in online networks:

The goal doesn't seem to be about helping people maintain privacy; it seems more like pushing them to accept a world where they are constantly aware of everyone around them.

In other words, we all don’t like downloading our consciousness to a central database.

3. How early adopters get overwhelmed
One problem waiting to happen at Facebook is the struggle between the early adopters, the students and the older, business-minded crowd that have come to Facebook in huge numbers.

A commenter says,
The problem with social networks is that in the beginning, with few members, they are inherently private; as they become successful, they are inherently NOT private…(bye bye, country club)

Related Reading
The 12 problems with Facebook

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At 6:20 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

After reading your blog for a while now, I'm increasingly starting to believe you've never even been to

At 3:24 PM , Blogger Pramit Singh said...

Sorry to disappoint you boss. Search for my name on Facebook.

I am even in a couple of groups.

Facebook has its uses but not in terms the hype-machine is portraying.


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