Monday, May 28, 2007

Why Facebook alongwith Social Networking will die in few years

Demography and common sense convince me to think that perhaps this social networking theme song has completed its run time and is nothing more than glorified walled gardens that make big news when they graciously open themselves up for mods and widgets among other things.

I see that today’s Techmeme is dominated by an assortment of articles written by Venture Capitalists who seem to be competing for a piece of Facebook’s on-off IPO/buyout business.

Josh compares Facebook with Myspace, judging Myspace to be on its way out, ‘the next Prodigy’ if you will.

Hmm…I am no VC but it is amusing that Josh quotes Newsweek dubbing 2007 as the “year of the budget”
– since when does an ‘in the doldrums’ news weekly become a paragon of future wise. Next time I hear one of these weeklies coining a “Man/thing of the year”, “Year of the man/thing”, “Most powerful people” and assorted yuckies, I am finally convinced that no one can do anything to change the world.

Then there is Paul Kedrosky who calls Facebook Microsoft Office of the social apps.
So, that is how plugins will change the world.
I did not know it was easy as that. I guess then I must not wait for Firefox 3.0 comes and get myself a Facebook account and change my life.

After a long time, I see Paul Allen who is gushing like a Beatles fan, predicting Facebook will become the largest social network in the world.

Yes, a network of spam and ghost pages.

A major assumption people make about Social Networks is that people will always like to be on the same page online, while they work, entertain themselves, and so on.

That pretty much sounds like a TV broadcaster’s wet dream.

People grow up, their habits change, and new people come in their lives … things happen.
Is it any surprise that Facebook is attracting older people, most of whom I am sure have been attracted by the promise of encountering interesting things online?

Ironically, Josh also wrote about “Catch & release/Catch & keep business models".
In short, sites like Classmates are Catch & release – getting users to register, and that is it. Come when you feel like.

On the other hand, Facebook 'practices' Catch and Keep – registering users and getting them to come often to the site and interact”.

Which is well and fine, but apart from full-time marketers and self-promoters, I don’t see people who registered at Facebook when in college, returning to the site when they are older, kids and all – maybe, once in a while.

Take my Yahoo groups of my classmates – the interaction has trickled down to once in 2 months while it was daily 3 years ago.

Life happens, Things happen.

I still don’t get Widgets.

For me they are intruding, they slow the browser and somebody please tell me how the widget creator aims to make any money.

What happens if the Widget creator withdraws her code, disappointed by the returns on her labor?

The supposedly hip Web 2.0 crowd doesn’t get usability guru Jacob Nielsen but I still subscribe to his ‘keep the web simple’ philosophy. Widgets make the web unclean, however fanciful they might appear to some.

I haven’t used Facebook but I hear it is clean, more organized than Myspace.
So, isn’t it ironic that using Widgets make Facebook pages look as chaotic as those frequently rubbished Myspace pages?

The Facebook platform is nowhere as exciting as the ecosystems of Start Pages such as Netvibes.
I am assuming Facebook wants to be a Start page as well.

A reason why I think social networking will die (stagnate is a politer term) is because I suppose every site can be a social network – Digg is a social network, so is, so is your humble blog.

For me, my Gmail account is my Social network, the embed chat function ensures I am in touch with my work friends (among others) during work time.

In this scenario, going to a glorified walled garden is as appealing as using the new Yahoo Mail update.

Portals are gone.

I believe in the deportalization theory of the internet, where you can access your favorite stuff on the internet across a variety of online destinations- in other words, your data is easily portable and accessible, no matter on what site you are- an Open Future worth promoting.

Lastly, I think people are hyping Facebook because of the tragic Virginia Tech shooting, where News Organizations perhaps for the first time felt what losing power really means - having to compete with students for access to scoops.

Discounting the serendipity of events, and the bystander theory of history, cheerleaders believe only a Facebook can be a champion of citizen publishers, which is a stupid thing to do.

End of rant.
Back to work for me.

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At 7:39 PM , Blogger Michael Wood-Lewis said...

I'm not so sure about the longevity of many of the major online social networks myself... not enough commonality to keep folks engaged over time.

The premise of our service, Front Porch Forum, is to host social networking among nearby neighbors so that all those posts add up to something... getting to know your neighbors and building a better neighborhood. Done well, people will continue to subscribe indefinitely.

An amazing 20% of our pilot city (Burlington, VT, USA) has subscribed in our first half-year, each in their own small neighborhood forum, and they're making great use of it. All their online activity is fostering real community and earning local awards and national recognition.

We're blogging about our progress at Ghost of Midnight.

At 5:05 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this whole computer fad is silly, too. I mean, email? Come on! Soon people will grow up and pick up the phone.


Sarcasm aside, the Internet is, quite technically, a social network. To say that it will die off is pretty silly.

Obviously companies will come and go, but I seriously doubt that networking applications are going to up and die off as users graduate college.

Also, you should try using facebook before you knock it. You do a pretty darn good job of misrepresting it.

And, yeah, widgets are generally annoying, but it's one click to make them go away on facebook, whereas I'd have to write a greasemonkey script to make them go away on myspace.

Just some thoughts.

At 5:04 PM , Blogger Pramit Singh said...

Some more points:

1. Who owns the data on these social networks?

2. Being a social network participant is no subsitutue for good writing, good journalism.

3. The amount of spam

4. The incessant 'so and so has requested to be a friend/made you a friend'

Big time waster.

I am a member of orkut and I find nothing but time waste - unless I have something to promote.

A friend tells me Social Networks are glorified IMs.

I would like to remind Zac that I wrote about everything on the internet being a social network.

At 6:20 PM , Blogger deebee said...

Yes, people would grow, and move, but its not correct to say they would delink themselves.

There is no necessity for the people to own the data here. The idea is simple. Connect. If that objective is achieved, the social network has done its job.

There are millions of loyal users to Orkut, who find it really cool, and are able to find lost batchmates, even family friends, members and are able to communicate well.

I would agree on the point of spam, where there is a moderation effort needed by these companies to knock it off. Since human moderation counts to be expensive, no wonder, we have peer to peer moderation, as a result of which people say soc nets are getting spammed.

At 7:22 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


I still don't get what you're going on about.

1. The data isn't meant to be owned. It's meant to be shared.

Sorry to say it, but content is becoming portable, mashable, and completely disposable regardless of the legal ramifications.

Most social networks are designed around sharing information with a small network of people and then moving on with the next media snippet.

2. You're right. But not being on a social network or two in your community keeps your finger further from the pulse than it needs to be.

3. Yes, spam is annoying, but that never stopped anyone from using email.

We adapt and don't sign up for crap we don't trust. The same rules apply to social networks.

4. This is kind of the point, no?


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