Social Website Dysphoria

These days, if you read around the media, it has been promoting “social websites” almost non-stop since, well, 2003 or so. In fact, the so-called “Web 2.0” is seen as the child of the dot-com bubble: the little that survived the catastrophic failure of some so many bright ideas that never caught on. On the post-bubble days, social websites are in, and they’re the only thing worth exploring. That and mobile phone applications, of course.

If you pick a random conference, it’s certain that someone will be either talking about their favourite social website and how they’re making a lot of money out of it (namely, by getting paid doing conferences about it — something which, of course, they will not tell!) or, well, how cool it is to develop applications for Android. If you paid attention in 2006 or so, they would be talking about hi5 or Friendster. In 2007, very likely they’d be talking about MySpace. Since 2008, of course, they’ll be talking about Twitter or Facebook. Or even both. Or, well, on how cool their newest application (or plugin, or mashup) integrates with either.

They will be eager to show you anecdotal evidence about how fantastic the reach of those tools are — about a 100 million for either Twitter or Facebook (although Twitter is growing faster), or 150 million for MySpace (although nobody ever goes there) — and how easy and cheap it is to push your message through those social networks: great for advertising. A speaker I recently heard was even bolder and claimed that he was able to change society by pushing his ideas to the many elected representatives, who, bored with endlesss hours in Parliament, spend their time chatting with friends on Twitter — and sometimes reply to complete strangers.

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