Social sites becoming too much of a good thing

November 3rd, 2006 by Barry Caplan | Tags: , , , , , ,

I have noticed this type of story likely accompanies every major new shift in technology. Social Networking has not yet come close to reaching a point where its conventions are well known and internalized by everyone.

My comments are in italics, more comments follow the story, click on “Read the Rest of This Entry” for all comments/Barry
Many young folks burning out on online sharing

From Yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle – A Front Page Story

If you believe the buzz, the latest incarnation of the Web is all about sharing, connecting and community. networking sites such as MySpace and Palo Alto’s Facebook have exploded in popularity, drawing new users into the fold each day. Users create profiles about themselves, link to their friends and post photos, messages and updates about their daily lives. Like instant messaging and chat rooms before it, social networking has become a powerful way for people to communicate via the Web and another place for people to spend their time online.

But even as the phenomenon continues to swell, the effort to maintain an active social life on the Web is taking its toll. Some have grown tired of what once was novel. Some feel bombarded by unsolicited messages, friend requests and advertisements. And some are cutting back.

This suggests that as much as people want to connect through the Internet, the practice also can have the opposite effect: social networking fatigue.

Despite the last few years’ leap up the beginning of the hockey stick curve, the truth is we are still near the bottom and the beginning. Users of social networking sites are. For all intents and purposes, still early adopters despite numbering in the few millions of users world wide. Let’s not forget that there are billions, as in thousands of millions, of people in the world, and several of those billions are increasingly connected to the internet regularly.

I often use the analogy of the automobile’s introduction during the latter stages of the Industrial Revolution (roughly the last quarter of the 19th Century) as an example we can learn from in the Internet era.

The original car was not so revolutionary – it was small, underpowered, and most of the technology had evolved from wagons (and other wheeled vehicles, and steam engines and other propulsion technology.

Yet there arose an enormously complex infrastructure to support the car and the lifestyle and economy that evolved.

Did anyone predict what we have today in 1876? That is unlikely although not impossible. But by 1920? I think so. By then, 45 years or so of technology improvements, price reductions, and process improvements made clear something was, well, afoot.

This year marked the 50th anniversary of our Interstate Highway system, which represents the zenith of the integration of the automobile into all facets of our life and economy.

But not so well know is that seeds for the interstate highway system were sown back in 1919 during a Army convoy trip taken by a group that included future-President Eisenhower. Their mission? Drive their vehicles across country, east to west, coast to coast, on whatever roads were available.

Along a course that is now routinely driven in a matter of days by individuals, the large group started out, and arrived weeks later with a lot less vehicles then they started out with.

Did the hardships they endure stop the nation and cause them to say that the automobile was as good as it ever could be?

Probably some people said that.

But they weren’t the ones who saw opportunities large and small in the difficulties.

In fact, they were more likely the very audience who eagerly bought up new and improved automobiles in the future, later commuted to work in them, ate foods and lived in buildings constructed from materials delivered by ever improving trucks on ever improving roads.

And I dare say they forgot they ever complained! Though they did server a crucial role in vocalizing the shortcomings and also the wishes and dreams of the larger parts of the population, aside from the earliest adopters.

And that is where we are at today with the internet in general and social networks in particular. Both are changing the way we live our lives and the way we interact with and trust each other.

The pace of change once again, as with automobiles, is rapid, and the changes profound. It is natural to expect that not everyone is going to accommodate the changes at the same rate.

Great marketers see the opportunity here in the comments in the SF Chronicle article. The speakers are surely sincere, and honestly, getting that kind of inbound marketing is not easy. We should listen to what they say, but with an ear toward making the changes more palatable, more entertaining, more trustworthy, more reliable, and more engaging.

I know it can be done and is being done in offices, bedrooms, and coffee shops in Silicon Valley and around the world by entrepreneurs.

I would be very interested for you to tell me your thoughts, dreams, goals, projects. What drives you?: mail:whatdrivesyou@digimediafinance.com

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