Facebook? Initially, used to poke, rant, and burp online in a closed community, your “friends”, unbeknownst to the outside web.
Today? A highly curated content discovery tool, with the occasional personal statement (relevant, targeted content, but still content). Hundreds, or thousands, of “friends”. Call it a “social utility”, or the “Evil Empire”, it is a far cry from its original promise of keeping tabs with a group of ‘friends’.
Twitter? Remember 2007? Tell your friends “where are you and what are you doing” in 140 characters or less (“Twitter: Is brevity The Next Big Thing?”, 2007).
Today? According to Twitter co-founder and current CEO Jack Dorsey speaking at the DLD Conference in Munich yesterday, Twitter is now an “information utility” which “biggest value is finding out what’s happening in your world in real time” (HuffPost, yesterday). Fully agreed. We had noticed. Tweet anything personal, and brace for impact.
Google+? Positioned at launch as an alternative to Facebook as a social network, from day one it was adopted as a platform for third-party content and broadcast, and used for self-promotion by heavy posters — not unlike Twitter in the early days. Hardly anything personal has ever appeared in my G+ stream. Content broadcast and discovery, again.
Where did the ‘personal’ in ‘social’ go?
Nothing wrong with all this. For all the usage of these social networking services migrating to content broadcast and discovery is telling of a clear market need. A need for always more content, better curated, easily accessible. (as a side note, I wonder when these are going to be chased by the SOPA and PIPA promoters lobbies. So far Facebook and Twitter have appeared to be a relatively safe haven for sharing protected content)
But where does this leave personal social networking? The kind that was promised early on? The service that allows us to stay in touch with each other based on our personal thoughts, emotions, actions?
Is Path the answer?
The approach Path has taken makes a lot of sense. Share what you do (pics), where you are, what you listen to. It’s all about self expression, not passing stuff around. Share your life now, just to those that matter. Path is occupying the slot the silent usage creep left vacant and giving it back its rightful place. Right in the palm of our hands. It has become the social networking tool I use most, even though its adoption is still in the early stages and a significant number of the people who matter to me aren’t on it yet. In a very interesting shift, it has also become my gateway into Facebook or Twitter…
By going after the volume of sharing (of external content, not personal), Facebook, Twitter and Google might have set themselves up to lose one key battle: the battle of intimacy and personal relations online.
Give it another couple of years, and see who will be the stickiest service. I bet on Path.
(Bear Valley Trail, Olema, CA., 11/2010. more of my pics here.)Pin It