So I Can Get Back To My Book

So I can get on with my incredibly interesting book on Existentialism (boy are you all gong to regret my reading that!), I need to get this out quickly.

This brilliant cartoon describes the death of Twitter, and I suspect Facebook and LinkedIn which suffer from different mixes of much the same malaise. LinkedIn is particularly cretinous these days.

The Comic Long Slow Death of Twitter

It is at once funny and insightful.

It describes the symptoms but not the causes.

There are roughly three (I bet there are loads more but I really want to get back to my book):

The business model,  which is advertising.  This is the killer.  My guess though is that we’d pay $1 per month for a service free of ads and sponsored posts, especially if it were bundled into our mobile or broadband bills. It is not complicated.

The bad behaviour, which flows from a lack of accountability generally fuelled by anonymity.  Accountability flows from authenticated identity and reputation. They are things we need to solve in the internet as a whole for all sorts of other reasons, not least that it has value and might end up being the currency we use to pay for all this.

The fact that even if we still post we have largely stopped listening to each other.  Digital media dilute empathy to zero. That is why many companies insert personal steps into digital experiences, it is the bit you remember. The larger the group, the more quickly and completely that dilution happens.  Is the magic number 150?  No idea, I don’t really care. I suspect it varies from conversation to conversation.

So,  to get the joy back we will have to:

  • Pay a little, a very little, really it is such a small sum we’d barely notice.
  • Only get to join in if we declare and can authenticate (now there is a word…) who we are.
  • Tweak the platforms to more easily support smaller conversations.

I suspect what will really happen is that the second item on my list, once solved will spawn services that will blow away the tired old prototypes that are FB, Twitter and LinkedIn so the platforms won’t get tweaked but evaporate in a puff of irrelevance

Rant over, now where is my book.. (At The Existentialist Cafe by Sarah Bakewell and unrelated to this post, except perhaps it is really).

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7 thoughts on “So I Can Get Back To My Book

  1. Firstly, I have to admit that the cartoon you link to is extremely pertinent and funny, even if those two words are rarely, if ever, associated with the word “Guardian”. I’ve been a long-time love-hater of Twitter. I dip in and out, but for at least a couple of years have rarely posted anything of note. There came a point that I just didn’t see the point of it, and anything it did I could do elsewhere, probably much better. True, there are the egotists (anyone with the word Kardashian vaguely close to them mainly) who, I think, post on there without any care or concern about who actually reads any of it. And there are those that post such benign nonsense that I think we’ve all become extremely bored about their dog Dave and his face that looks like Esther Rantzen (yah, get yer own back).

    And then, as you rightly point out, there’s money. I suppose it’s no surprise that Twitter have gone through a handful of CEOs, all hell bent on trying to work out how to make some money from a platform that, after all, reaches some ridiculous proportion of the entire English-speaking internet population of the world. But then, apparently, 37% of all users who sign up never come back. As shop fronts go, I think they should sack their window-dresser. Also worth having a read of this:

    http://techcircle.vccircle.com/2013/11/01/facebooks-ad-warning-sounds-a-note-of-caution-for-twitter/

    It’s Reuters blog from 2013 that basically says “don’t bother with an advertising model because your product is crap”. Or something.

    Anyway, back to the point in hand. Would I pay $1 for Twitter ? Nope. Even if it meant I could post the colour of my saucepans, totally ad-free, I wouldn’t. But then I wouldn’t pay for Facebook either. LinkedIn you can already pay for, although I’m pretty sure the only people who actually do are headhunters and people who can’t work the internet. (BTW, I actually still get a lot of value from LinkedIn, so not quite ready to consign it to Room 101 just yet.)

    So all in all, I think we’re just seeing market economics come into play, same as we did back in 2000 when people finally realised that a ‘dot com’ what not some weird bloke from Asia, and that their gazillion dollars pumped into a website that sold dehydrated water – even if it did have a virtual reality Meg Ryan (remember her ?) showing you how to rehydrate it – was basically worth the square root of zip.

    All this being said, I actually DO think there is a social network out there that fills all your criteria. But I think the only website that you stand even the remotest chance of finding it on, doesn’t want you to find it. And I’m sure their Mountain View is well worth it.

    • I am back where I was a few years ago on this. Use it on purpose, for a purpose and try to break the dependence on dopamine this stuff gives us.

      In turn, smaller is often (not always) better both in terms of groups we interact with, though that flows when you know why, what is motivating any post.

      Would I pay? Not much. Not directly. I am also though back to the idea that the platforms are badly designed for purposeful use and the whole thing boils down to drug dealing.

      Once I had posted this, as ever a note to self, I realised I had learned little since I last posted on the topic a while ago but found the refresher useful.

  2. Loved the cartoon. Twitter is an irrelevance for me, as is Facebook. So what if people think I am antisocial / behind the times? At least I maintain my privacy, meet my friends in cafes and bars or invite them to my house. How rebellious is that?

    • I am gradually forming the view that I simply prefer real life and will use those places when I have some specific reason to rather than as “something to do”.

      In fact, I have fully formed those views. The challenges is breaking habits that are at best neutral.

      I am also not sure it is behind the times or an age / generational thing as is often simplistically stated.

      The trick I think, is to learn (or relearn) to be alone and to quote the great Sherry Turkle, not to treat boredom as a problem to be solved but enjoy time thinking and talking (not out loud) to yourself.

      Sometimes when I am very bored, I look at the motivations behind people’s online posts (including this one???) and question them. The most benign are often characterised simply by missed opportunities to do something more valuable, interesting, purposeful and worthwhile.

      • Are the two mutually exclusive ? I also like to be alone (hence hours on a bike on my own), and don’t really have an issue with boredom either. I like personal interaction (a lot !), am extremely sociable and like a good old natter over a pint, as you know all too well. But then I also thoroughly enjoy a lot of the information I glean from the various social platforms I participate in too, in all their various areas. In fact I’d go as far as to say that I am better informed because of how I use those platforms, and about the things that matter to me (not Kim Kardashian since you ask), than I would otherwise be in an offline world. And, frankly, I like being informed since while I am OK with boredom, I am not OK with ignorance. The “Social” side of these platforms is a side-show in many respects for me. I don’t much care that someone I know has a purple dog, but I do quite like being up to date.

      • Which brings me back to how badly designed it all is. Not least in that quite often various conversations or flows are mixed together and unless I take clunky steps to avoid it, most conversations are the equivalent of my standing on a table in the bar with a megaphone.

        I also just get a bit rankled at having my body chemistry deliberately played by marketing machines. I have this annoying desire to be in control of myself and my life. That brings me back to paying for things…

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