A few days ago a friend and business partner of mine, Kenny Katzgrau, posted an article on his blog, CodeFury, about how social networking is redefining the Internet. He raised some really great questions toward the end of the post that John Bellone took to answering (very well) on his blog. I took a few days to collect my thoughts, and here they are
In order for us to call something a revolution, it needs to cause a fundamental shift in the way that people interact with and perceive technology.
Revolutions: personal computers, the Internet (you could make a really compelling argument that these two should be combined into one)
Not Revolutions: web-enabled phones, Facebook, laptop computers, cell phones
Certainly these things are massive achievements, but newer, faster, better, more available ways to view data aren’t revolutionary. Like Kenny says, social networking is not the terminus, but I believe things are combining and mixing in a very interesting way, and that our next real revolution is closely related and imminent. I think the relation is that the revolution will center on things that are being built to support social networking. Geolocation, passive interaction, and most importantly: general openness of data, which allows companies to build compelling value as a combination of existing services.
How will Facebook and other social networks become even more real-time?
Facebook is making great strides (and amazingly successful strides) at transitioning its users off of its browser platform, and getting them to consume and contribute data in other ways. Interacting via mobile devices but more importantly through their connections to each other, and to other services. Moves to passively collect and distribute information are how we’ll get there.
How will desktop-based social browsers like RockMelt fair?
RockMelt is a great idea for the now, and is necessary, but trends are placing us away from the browser. Facebook is most likely looking at where users are headed and optimizing for that. Their portable apps are going to become more and more effective as more users move away from the desktop platform.
How many investors invest in social apps because they think anything social will make money, and not because they understand the insanity of it all?
I’d say at this point, most are investing purely in the direction of the trends.
What is sum of it all? Where is all this stuff leading us? Social networking is surely not the terminus.
Social networking is not the terminus. There never will be a terminus, just an ebb and flow with the occasional 100-foot-tall wave. Another one is headed, and I’m more excited than anything.
There’s a crazy future ahead of us.