Web-based communication channels are burgeoning – people are being inundated by information, and are inundating each other with it. It’s consuming time, we humans’ most precious resource. There’s organization, disorganization, and a never ending stream of new venues to choose from.
Recent thoughts around the web
Alex Isgold brought forth the notion that more may be less with regard to social networks (with particular emphasis on Facebook). The argument is that social networks are built for communication, and the myriad of applications, feeds, etc. is just getting in the way of the dialog. Social networks are not blogs, per se, but they try to be. In fact, they also try to be content aggregators, instant messaging networks, and game show hosts too. Hence, sites like Facebook are unsuitable for serious business communications. Good points. Can a service succeed over the long haul by trying to be all things to all people right out of the gate?
Techmeme produced a top blogs list from the data the site has been gathering over the last year, and Robert Scoble immediately declared the death of blogging. The premise was the top blogs from the Techmeme list weren’t really blogs (meaning the thoughts of one person), but instead professional publications written and produced by groups. Truth be told, The New York Times is hardly a blog, and neither is TechCrunch (anymore). But is the death of blogging really such a bad thing? The fact is, people are also beginning to notice they are blogging less because of Twitter – that more of what they want to say can be conveyed in 140 characters or less. Maybe some didn’t have much to say to begin with? Or maybe they like the idea of having a lot of followers?
The non-blog TechCrunch added another piece of the puzzle: Web 2.whatever is built on the backs of the users, the users are mostly human, and humans are inherently lazy. Well that explains why people would rather use Twitter! But, it doesn’t explain what happens next. Do people get tired of paying the hosting fees on their stale blogs and shut them down? Seems that wouldn’t bode well for fully mechanized search engines, and may explain why guys like Jason Calacanis are still so confident despite the apparently poor odds they face right now. As for all the free blog platforms, social networks, and various other enablers out there, you’d suspect they’d be toast. Yet more arrive every day.
Nothing new, but…
What I’m waiting for is reality to set in. We’ve already heard plenty of folks complain about being pummeled by email, getting behind to the point where they “declared bankruptcy” by purging their inboxes and kindly requesting that people resend. Now it’s happening with network invitations. People’s Facebook profiles are getting clogged with requests for friendships and notices of new applications. They are publicly announcing they are going to follow fewer people on Twitter. These “troubled” folks are the core user base – the fans, the founders, and the venture capitalists providing the funding.
Reason and quandary
It’s become literally impossible to adhere to Dunbar’s number in the virtual world. Some are taking action because they realize the quality of their communication is what matters, not the quantity. Meanwhile, breaking basic sociological maxims are a requirement of all these networks – they either grow exponentially or die – quality does not matter. The very people these networks need to spread the word are the ones “losing clock” trying to keep up.
Something will give.