So about this social networking thing....

Actually I have no idea of how to lead into this conversation. I've had accounts with all the the social networking sites, if not from each of their very beginnings, then from pretty early on in their respective developments. Each site--friendster, orkut, myspace, facebook, virb--has a different crowd, and in it's own way that's kind of interesting, and I've never felt that using one site necessarily precludes using another one. But over the last little while, I've been thinking about this whole social network thing, particularly in light of ravlery Here are some thoughts:

  • People join and use the social networking sites that their friends use. College students use facebook. Hipsters, musicians, and high school students (at least in the US) are more likely to use myspace, for example. This is why features don't matter, it's all about the crowd, and the truth is that most of these sites look and behave more or less like the others, and the features converge.
  • I think there are a couple kinds of social networking sites: the ones that center around a profile (facebook, myspace friendster) and those that center around an activity (twitter, ravlry, livejournal, vox, viddlr[sic?], etc.) The latter ends up being much more successfull in the long term, because these sites and communities work their way into peoples lives. It's sort of interesting that people and companies have managed to capitalize on the social aspect of the Internet that always used to exist on Usenet and IRC, and also create a niche for the profile-based sites. Though interestingly, I think these profile based sites sort of fill the role that the "personal homepage," used to fill. That is before people realized that personal home-pages were kind of lame.
  • Social networking sites that are about collecting friends are doomed to fail, because collecting friends is boring, and because at some point, everyone realizes that their threshold for "adding" new people to their "friends" is so low that it turns out it's kind of creepy and then we walk away and try and forget it.
  • The less control a company/website gives over someone, the better people will feel about that site. Truth I think if you could access livejournal over gopher or a command-line/terminal it would be pretty awesome. But seriously think about it. Many people have started saying that facebook has jumped the shark when they gave users control over how their profiles looked.

So that's what's on my mind. It's interesting I'm pretty religious about checking ravelry (and LJ) these days, and while I still keep an eye on facebook, I'm not as into it as I used to be. I think it's interesting to see how these things develop mostly because I've pretty much given up trying to figure out what's going to happen next.

Onward and Upward!