I’ve only got a few minutes to write this post, so pardon me if I’m sketchy on the details.
A blogpost at GigaOm covers some of the iterations that social networks on the internet went through over the years. Pretty interesting, though incomplete. The author also warns that it is dangerous to predict the next wave, based on the past, and I’m not even going to try.
But what I am certain of is that Facebook will eventually fail. Why?
Because what Facebook lacks, and this is a flaw in the whole digital ecosystem, is c o h e s i o n. While it allows me to contact any friend on there at the touch of a button, it does not actually bring our lives much closer together. Instead we live our lives in parallel, sometimes continents apart, and all we see of each other is what we choose to publish online.
It operates on a very superficial level, and soon becomes quite monotonous to follow the twitter-like life-stream of what are essentially caricatures of a distant memory of friendship. And because it is the nature of things that people become less and less involved, it will not take long before Facebook becomes a stale contact-list, with the only blips of life coming from “those youngsters” that think that anyone actually cares to read their status. And when it reaches that state in the mind of its users, it won’t be long before a new, fresher “contact list” comes along.
We are still not at the level where a social network online is the same what it means offline. In the real world, a network is a chemical thing, where people interact on many different levels, stimulate each other, anger each other, change each other, etc. And this is just as applicable to personal networks, as it is in business.
I’m not sure if it will ever be possible to reach that same level of involvement with an internet-app. I’d like to think that at least the social network on mobile-phones both overcomes the geographic and the psychological barriers that exist. So technology can definitely be compatible with chemistry to some extent. But text, which clearly has advantages in other areas, is a different matter.
But this is just an opinion. What do you think? Is Facebook enough? What characteristics do we need in a technological network for it to become a true social network?
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