“‘Social networks’ may be a popular buzzword these days, but the
whole concept of the internet was based on social networking from the
start — going all the way back to bulletin boards, email, and forums
right up to today’s blogs, social networking sites, and, yes, Twitter.
As far back as 1978, bulletin board systems were essentially doing the
same thing that modern networks are doing. The big difference now is
that the usability and usefulness of the newer networks are infinitely
I made my way to Jason’s article via an eMarketer piece called “Time to Write Twitter’s Tombstone?” I don’t think that’s the case. I do think that social networks are fashion. They come and they go. Jason believes that Google Wave will make Twitter obsolete. Perhaps. I like the concept of Wave a lot. Keith McGreggor and I came up with a concept very much like Wave. We called it The Greatest App Never Built. Here’s the pitch:
The Greatest App Never Built will solve the information overload problem of all your Internet communications. It will take your email accounts, RSS feeds, social networking communications into a simple interface and then semantically sort them not based on date or read/unread status but by how much attention they deserve based on your past behavior.
Still a good idea.
But back to my point. Social networks are fashion. People tire of them. They are too hard to manage. All the marketers come in. They get spammy. It is easier to move on to the next thing instead of scrubbing all the stuff within a particular network. And just leave it there. An artifact of a bygone era. Social networks have no staying power.
There is something else that is going on as well. Something that Jason confused a bit. Below is Jason’s history of social networking graph.
There is a difference between the application layer of the Internet protocol suite and an Internet application. Usenet (NNTP), Email (POP3, SMTP & IMAP), and Internet relay chat (IRC) are part of the core Internet application protocol suite. Therefore they have tremendous staying power. All of the social networks that have emerged since 2000 are not part of the core Internet application protocol suite. All these social networks applications are built within the HTTP Internet protocol. The social network applications are not as fundamental as the earlier Internet protocol suite applications. Take another look at the chart.
Internet protocol suite applications are like underwear. Have not changed much since the 1980s. Social networks are like fashion. They change every few years.