Saturday, December 8, 2007

Social Networking: The Now, The Future

grapes as trajectory

To mix metaphors, social networking (SN) continues is meteoric ascent. Not only does the pace of new community creation continue seemingly unabated, but in its wake so too is the number of pixels – paper or digital – being devoting to the subject. Accordingly, OFD provides a brief view of SN today and the future.

We don't think social networking can't be thought of as a fad, because it is here to stay and it will remain a permanent feature of most people's lives.

We do think it is experiencing heightened and unsustainable levels of engagenebt. It's the novelty factor. For those of who remember the 90s and the internet space before the dot com crash, this feels eerily similar: a giddy abandon to build without the kind of discipline that is needed for utility to pay out.

One inevitable consequence of over-development is fragmentation: with the explosion of social networking groups, let alone individual blogs, there has to be a day (ok era) of reckoning in which hundreds of thousands of SN sites and interest-based groups simply atrophy and wither away like grapes dying on the vine.

If anyone has any statistics on the number of sites that a heavy/medium on-line user regular reads and the subset number s/he contributes to, we be interested. We also be interested to hear of any insight on the curve; no doubt for a typical individual it starts out expanding quickly and then shrinks to a manageable smaller collection.

We believe the repertoire has got to be fairly small. There are, after all, a limited number of hours in everyone's day, and while the digital world has it's appeal there is still competition for limited discretionary time from the real world, which provides something that the on-line world can never provide – the multi-sensory experience. It requires going no further for an example than a neighborhood bar, where one can see people, stimulate taste buds with drink, smelling the weapons of the attraction game (perfume and after-shave) hear music, and have unintentional (and if you're luckier) intentional physical contact. The desire for these kinds of experiences competes with the time people can devote to SN activities, no matter how ubiquitous wireless devices and coverage becomes.

Makes for a perfect longitudinal study of on-line behavior regarding social networks. Any one interested?

1 comment:

Tom Fraley said...

I've been considering this myself. I also consider that some networks/communities are only designed to fill a temporary need. As technology improves, of course they will wither and become less or un-necessary. It's inevitable. What we do with what we have right now is what matters. Seeing the future and laying the ground work with the tools of today, especially as fast as things are moving, will put us miles ahead of those who would rather 'wait til the kinks are ironed out' and things become more seamless.

By the way, I thought you'd like to know that I found you through my BlogRush widget on my community. (

Please contact me back there as I would like to stay in touch but, I'm away and on a public computer.

The future really is bright, my friend.