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Social networking services and the motor effect

Wired: Are Socialites Still Networking?

I read this and it made me realise that the hype that was going on last year about social networking sites like Friendster and Orkut just isn’t happening anymore. Maybe the hype saturated and now all the sites are slowly but steadily growing behind the discussion of blogs and newspapers. I think the place where the silence is most notable is in the blogosphere. I just don’t see many posts anymore about social networking sites. I think probably my blog reading habits have changed slightly over the last year, but I also think that there has been a reduction in the discussions about these services. Sites like Flickr are taking over – they’re social networking sites that don’t put social networking as the focus, and this is a useful shift. For business-oriented sites like LinkedIn, making social networking the focus is ok – networking is often a goal for businesses. But Flickr’s golden ticket is the way that it makes photos the focus, not social networking. Photos are usually put on the net to share with friends and family, but now Flickr lets you share photos with anyone, by topic and interest – using social networks as a framework, but not a centre of focus. I think this is why social network sites appear to be disappearing – they’re not, they’re just becoming integrated into other services, for other uses.

Metaphor: The motor – it used to be that motors were sold separately, and attachments could be bought to make the motor useful – e.g. a vacuum cleaner attachment, a pump attachment, a fan attachment, etc. Once motors became cheap enough they became integrated into devices and suddenly people weren’t buying motors with lots of attachments – the attachments all had the motors integrated. Suddenly people aren’t talking about social networking services – the attachments (e.g. photo sharing) have social networking integrated.


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