Saturday, June 28, 2008

Yeah, I START way too many of these things

Well I moved my "yammer about anything" blog to Blogger vs the iWeb tool. iWeb is neat and all, but it doesn't feel as robust as Blogger or TypePad or something, and doesn't always look as nice. Plus I don't have mobile options for iWeb, unless Mobile Me brings something to the table, but I don't host my site on .mac as it is, so it wouldn't apply to me.

That's another thing, I can't have comments on my iWeb blog since I use my own hosting. And that sorta sucks, without comments it sorta defeats the idea in my opinion, which takes me into my first new post here (obviously already copied my iWeb posts over).

I've been thinking a lot lately about social networks. Namely where we're going right now. My perspective is sorta centered around myself and my local friends, but hey, that's what I know best.

If you want to go way back, my friends and I started with IM. MSN was the shit back in the day, especially as everyone started moving to always-connected high speed internet and statuses became a major way of communicating things to each other. Down the road we all got onto MySpace. As we all know people started flocking to Facebook and several of us actually deleted our MySpace accounts (myself included).

Facebook seemed to be the one that held us the longest, or at least we did a lot more on Facebook than MySpace. The applications kept us connected quite well, and the more private nature of Facebook seemed more appealing, as was the clean user interface.

The peak of our Facebook use seemed to be this winter. I mean, if I could use Dipity to show all of my Facebook activity during December, January and February, it would look absolutely ridiculous. Now I have to wonder if our Facebook activity is in a slump just because it's summer. I mean we're all working, enjoying the weather, etc and I'm probably the only one with the incentive to use the mobile solutions.

In the wintertime it tends to be a different story. Most of us are stuck inside sitting on our computers anyway, so why not spend that time connected on Facebook? Plus my friend Leigh and I tend to procrastinate a lot, so we could be found wasting a lot of time goofing around instead of her doing her homework or me doing my old editing job (damn you Bumper Stickers!).

But what if it's not a seasonal thing? I look at the iPhone or my BlackBerry and RIM's new marketing strategy toward youths, and I start to imagine these type of sites becoming much more focused and mobile. Example? Twitter.

I'm a Twitter addict. And I don't want help. What I love about it that takes it beyond iChat or MSN status updates is the SMS aspect of it. Anyone of my friends, smartphone or not, can enable their phones on Twitter and update simply by sending a text, something we all do a ton already. In addition to that, other peoples' updates can be delivered to your phone via text. No fancy tools, no profiles to manage and keep up to date. We focus on the simple question of "what are you doing?" and can use it all through the technology we already take advantage of.

I admit I've yet to get my local friends on Twitter, but when I explained that it works through simple SMS messaging to one of them, he suddenly found it much more appealing and may finally join. The simplicity of a 140 character status update is remarkably appealing, and I can't help but be reminded of where we all started when we were 13 or 14: MSN. IM status updates, without the need to even chat half the time. That's pretty much what fucking Twitter is now!

Why then, are we going back to this basic form of socializing after all this fancy MySpace/Facebook/Virb crap? I think it comes down to what people really care about. Does anyone care about looking at your profile? No. No one cares. I realized this when I went to fill out my Virb profile and maybe try to wane my friends from Facebook to that. But I stopped and thought "this is the same crap all over again, and no one ever gives a shit in the end."

All I care about is what my friends have to say, what they're doing, where they're at. Sure a profile will always be there for the most basic contact info, but beyond that I don't think I care, and I don't think anyone else really cares either. Twitter is based entirely on what people are saying and doing. Pownce is based entirely on what people are looking at and wanting to share (as is Tumblr). It's totally personal, and without actually using it, it's absolutely nothing.

That is the valuable social network in my opinion. Anyone can create a MySpace page and have it completely ignored. But when you get a group of people on something like Twitter or Pownce and they all start using it together, it's insane. There's now something to actually read, and there's incentive to actually post. It's a bit of a snowball effect that is quite interesting to watch first-hand.

The simplicity of something like Twitter is fascinating to me when you take it to a mobile platform. Everyone has a cell phone these days, and these sites know that. So I look at my BlackBerry and it's much more than a phone (duh). It's more than email too. It's this central device that has the power to connect me to all these social networking sites...yes, even Facebook.

Cameras on phones are getting better and better and everyplace out there has mobile uploading, so we're putting up photos in realtime from anywhere. I'll be uploading photos directly to Facebook during my drive and flight to L.A. on Friday, and any neat thing I happen to be doing while there.

You start being able to get notifications (like the Facebook app on the BlackBerry) of those things and suddenly it's a bit like Twitter. You do something from your phone (like a photo upload), and it hits the site and goes out to all your friends' phones. Now one of those friends at the restaurant down the street realizes you're up to something fun and may want to drop by instead of getting home two hours later and finding the picture online and realizing they were close by. But of course you can turn all this stuff off easily, or schedule it to turn off during certain hours everyday, just like Twitter ;)

The possibilities are pretty crazy, and I feel like this is just the tip of the iceberg. Exactly what lies below the water, I don't know. If I did I'd be creating it myself ;)

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