The Social Web is Boring
Has anyone else noticed that most discussions on social media have gotten a bit stale? Everyone is a social networking/media guru. There are folks that actually do understand social media but it’s not because it is social media they are understanding. The folks who understand the impact of branding and quality content are the ones who are continuing to be successful utilizing the social web. This is not really surprising as it parallels the SEO concept as well. I remember when people felt it revolutionary that instead of focusing on search terms you simply try to be a good writer and gather an audience. It shouldn’t be surprising that then that social media has taken a similar turn.
With the marketing angle and business model of social media exposed, what else could be interesting about it? Well we’ve seen the fall of MySpace and everyone thinks Facebook is up next. It is not a matter of why, but simply when. Social networks have an Achilles heel call size. The reason is because social networks have to provide the interface to people and make it evolve along side relationships. That is really, really hard. People change all the time and so does technology. The big shift with Twitter and Facebook was that the expectations of the user switched from being browser based to mobile enabled. It moved the social network out of the browser and into real life by allowing updates from mobile devices and in doing so, made MySpace, which really requires a browser, irrelevant. The problem is as each social network gets larger and larger, the technology changes and as such, the expectations of the users.
With that in mind, it still seems like social networking and social media are at least technically interesting. The question is how do you keep the massive user base while continuing to evolve the service alongside technology and user expectations? It is really simple, you don’t. In technology there is always a point where a system becomes too large for a host of reasons. What you do is refactor and reorganize the code to reflect different abstractions. Eventually you start breaking the system up into more manageable parts. That is why we now have things like Foursquare, even though Twitter seems to already do geo locations. People end up wanting one tool to do one thing really well. Where have I heard that before... Unix! The fact is we’ve learned to scale and realized the potential in relationships. It is reset time. Computing started simple and boomed when every day people got involved. The original Windows made it possible for you to slap some clip art on a layout and send your grandparents a homemade card. It was communication and relationships evolving through a better user interface. The time has come once again for this kind of user interface shift and it has already happened.
Yup, I’m talking about the iPad. I was a skeptic, but I now see the light. It is going to change the world and that is that. Do I have one? Nope, not yet, but I do want one. The thing that tipped me off that I was wrong about the iPad before I even got one was some example music software. We are recording our latest music with a guy that doesn’t want to use computers. The result is more time consuming and in all honesty rather frustrating. But, I realize that with the iPad, a person gets to have a customized interface without the cruft of the operating system. The iPad has taken the single user iPhone interface, made it big and provided the tools for others to build interesting interfaces with it. The timing is impeccable because as I’ve been saying only a few paragraphs earlier, social media and social networking is boring. The iPad is the new form factor to change everything. No more browsing the Internet at home, finding a link and sending it to your friend. Now, you hang out with your friend, remember you saw something cool, pull out your iPad and show them. There are still all the same network enabled capabilities but they are services no one really cares about. The real deal excitement is getting out from behind the desktop and experiencing relationships by utilizing a screen. Social media is boring because you are forced to have an awkward relationship through a computer screen.