Well put. It's interesting that we pivoted in my adult lifetime from:
1. Myspace's emphasis on sharing things on your own webpage, essentially a hosted blog 2. Facebook's evolution from "hosted blog" to "friend update aggregator" to "chat client" to "friend update & ad aggregator" 3. Instagram's callback to simple update sharing (with pictures) and a chronological ad-free news feed 4. Snap's emphemeral sharing 5. Facebook's slow agglomeration and bastardization of all of the features that made Instagram and Snap distinct. 6. TikTok's addictive advertising machine that barely includes any friend connections at all.
Initially I was concerned that this would mean the death of real social media, just like the article initially suggests. But I really like the conclusion the article ultimately comes to: we basically don't have social media right now, we have advertising engines masquerading as social media. Better that Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat show their true colors and become disgusting advertising machines just like TikTok.
If we're lucky, that means a federated, open, mostly-ad-and-suggestion-free open source social media experience can fill the power vacuum for intimate, interpersonal, high-latency communication over the internet. microblog seems promising, but I think even mastodon could provide the experience I'm looking for.
The whole "broadcast yourself to the world" part of social networks just moved to Tiktok, Twitter, Instagram etc.. I think.
Notice I didn't use the word "algorithm" or "social"? These takes are tired and naive, TikTok isn't addictive in any operationally useful sense of the word, people just like it and use it. You may as well write a blog post saying "TV is addictive and it's dying because of commercials". It's just not an accurate conceptualization if the landscape.
It’s only market lag between the revenue source, media source agencies, and the realization that better markets for their business. When that occurs the death spiral hyper accelerates to rapid finality.
Like all death spirals this could have been avoided had they treated their users as a potential revenue source instead of a product. I was watching a history video yesterday about the Aztecs who completely alienated the tribes in their empire in their own death spiral. The empire was already dead before the Spanish arrived, but the Aztecs just didn’t see it yet.
Around 2012-2014, the newsfeed mostly was just updates from your friends with some ads sprinkled in. Everyone was on Facebook, so if you were hosting a social event, you could just invite everyone on Facebook and they’d hear about it. Birthdays were great because everyone would wish you happy birthday and you would do the same for them. There was a location-based search feature, where you could travel to basically any city and search your friends list to see who was there.
I felt closer to a lot of old friends from growing up than almost any other time, because suddenly everyone was on Facebook and it was super easy to catch up with someone I hadn’t talked to in years.
That’s all vanished these days, sadly. Social events are organized by email again (which is fine but less convenient). I’ve lost touch with old high school friends again because nobody uses Facebook anymore except for a few die hard holdouts.
I really remember thinking “Man, Facebook is just so dominant, I don’t see how they could blow it.”
Turns out, if you keep feeding the growth monster in search of more and more “engagement” (enragement?), eventually the growth monster destroys you.
Social Media strongly encourages Hot Takes, because those get clicks. I found myself examining how I comment on reddit, and what people call "The Hivemind".
You can't have nuanced discussions on social media, someone will infer what kind of asshole you exactly are, and that's the end of the discussion.
Some poisoned phrases:
Be Reasonable - "why can't you just be reasonable"
Both Sides - "there are good people on both sides"
Some Responsibility - "she bears some responsibility"
Nuanced Discussion - "you can't have a nuanced discussion on social media"
I'm sure there are some poisoned phrases you react instinctively to.
I think weak arguments are good, actually. You don't need to move someone from the swamp to the mountain, you just need them to get on dry land.
Now I'm sure someone has inferred exactly what kind of asshole I am, and they are correct. This is the kind of asshole I am. The kind that wants reasonable arguments to exist in the real world, even if I have to make them up.
Just imagine a social network that combines all of the good things invented in the past 25 years: the customizability of MySpace, the visible social graph of Facebook, the easy sharing of Twitter, the speed of propagation of Friendster, the transparency of Web of Trust, the security and user empowerment of PKI, the distributed and decentralized model of Usenet, the lack of spam of a private tracker, the long-term discussion threads of a forum, the solidity of BitTorrent, the ease of access of AOL, and the compatibility and accessibility of Any Browser Web...
Wouldn't you want something like that for yourself and your communities?
So of course, the single problem of anything geoloc is safety and privacy, which is not the strong aspect of any social network right now. Tinder and others work hard to make their users safe, and it's difficult because users are not aware of it.
Social networks always should have been used to meet people OUTSIDE of screens, for discovering other people and things.
I want to meet people through activities (board games, running, walking), (loneliness is a huge problem in the west!) and except bumble BFF, which isn't popular, there is no popular app to do just that. Of course there is meetup and other things, but those are too narrow.
Neighbor apps are nice too, but nobody use them because they're focused on services, which isn't fun.
Don't you think it's a huge contradiction that current social networks don't let people meet?
I really liked the article but am perplexed by the naive ending.
Friends/family and the world are two very distinct use cases. Most people, young people included, are taking the friends/family part private, in chat apps. Then they may or may not engage in a "public square" social network, but probably with a burner account.
The public square part has failed in epic ways. The idea that you can just "build" something that unites people whilst dodging a laundry list of threats and toxic behavior seems optimistic, to say the least.
And yeah, let's not run ads. Ok, fine. But how will you monetize instead? These seem pretty important questions to me.
Examples of mission statements that don't produce revenue: Google, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, most news organizations.
Microsoft's missions in 1980 was "A computer on every desk and in every home". Their mission produced revenue. There are lots of examples of mission/revenue alignment.
As Huxley hinted, our soma is just technological narcotics. With each new medium of technology brings in a plethora of problems that cannot be reformed.
After reading this article, I am starting to wonder if people didn't simply migrate to LinkedIn because of the degradation of Facebook's quality as a Social Network and as they still feel the need to share their lives, started sharing those cringe posts.
If I were independently wealthy I’d spend my time building a newsfeed for musicians to share music things where it’s similarly impossible to post pictures of text or news articles. You’d need to be vigilant to prevent it from overstepping the way LinkedIn did.
The challenge is that if you can share photos or video or links at all, it becomes terrible.
Ahahahaha! As if the normal shareholder of FB, or almost any other company, would tolerate them making less money than they possibly could. There is plenty wrong with Facebook, but the two-class stock structure is not the cause, because a single-class stock structure leads to equally pathological behavior.
The feed of each of these platforms, if it existed at all, was usually a side feature you might interact with (eg: MySpace bulletins) after getting bored doing what you had gotten on to do in the first place: see if anyone had consciously, deliberately reached out to you specifically by commenting on your meticulously composed profile or pictures, or privately by sending you a direct message. And then reach out to someone yourself.
Short of spam, everything waiting for you when you signed on was signal. No noise. Don't like someone but feel obligated to accept her friend request? No biggie—just don't go to check out her profile. You'd never have to take on the indirect stress of learning your friend's roommate takes pride in being shitty to fast food cashiers. You'd probably harbor less resentment and be more optimistic about prospective social interactions with anyone you meet.
And, most importantly (to me, someone who made most of his best friends online in the '90s and '00s), the pull approach encouraged exploration and discovery of new people, communities, perspectives, hobbies, whatever. You couldn't rely on a feed to keep you busy—you had to seek out new interactions. New drama. Whatever. Find good things, find bad things. At least it was your choice to go find them, rather than having them shoved in your face.
I also think most people have lost track of the distinction between social networking and social media. Where the former is focused on socialization around networking (meeting new people, forming communities, etc.), the latter is focused on socialization around media (liking images, commenting on videos, etc.). It sounds obvious when stated, but I think the conflation of these terms has made it more difficult to discuss the differences between what I see as two fundamentally different social experiences, each with their strengths and weaknesses. In some respect, these must coexist, but platform design can favor either direction. Social networking, I feel, is conducive to conversation; dialogue. Social media, by contrast, is conducive to parallel monologues.
I suspect most people would agree that it's better to talk to each other than over each other.
Not to be pessimistic, but this missing the whole point. Just because social networking is gone doesn’t mean it’s somehow in the hands of the people. They will flock to the ML addiction machines and 20 years from now something even more horribly grotesque.
I care about Mastodon, ActivityPub, PeerTube, BlueSky and all these open standards. But these platforms Are sole dependent on users and at the moment, they all look like programmer/activist-centric wastelands.
If I meet an old friend in my city I would take them for a walk in a public park for a chat, or sit at a nice cafe. What I would not do is go to a place where I do not trust the people who listen to sell that information. And this is what social media has become.
It must not be like this, and maybe the solution is really aomething like the fediverse, but social media without the people you like is no use.
Tiktok is more like youtube. It’s a content platform first. Maybe the new generation uses tiktok to keep in touch, or maybe they use something I haven’t heard of, but social networks are bigger than ever.
I think the future of social networks is still not clear though: VR? Wechat-like app? Something else?
So far Social media has strived to be just consumption platform, not utility. Social media can drive every day activities from dating to finding jobs to finding summer camps to garage sale to purchasing gifts etc. There is a lot of untapped potential that FB unfortunately didn’t managed to build upon. The problem with consumption platforms is that they will fall out of fashion eventually. It is astonishing that large swaths of humanity suddenly don’t find FB newsfeed interesting any more. It almost happened to so many people and just over span of months. To me it looks like more of biological saturation rather than anything else.
Facebook sucks and I‘d hope that politicians in Germany would take action against it. Start with the algorithmic timelines. All content only your friends and interests. Nothing from outside to addict you further.
My message, though, is not that BeReal or anything new is going to be the future of sharing info on the net.
I think the future is looking a lot like the best of the past, with improvement.
Which is why I got this info on a newsletter, that directed me to a blog.
The missing pieces are "personal newsletter made easy" (for producing content), "newsletter discovery made non spammy", and "making all those services sustainable without ads".
Their utter inability to come up with consistent standards for policing their walled garden, upon having their hand forced to need to try, indicates that maybe that's not a good goal in the first place. Maybe it's okay if not everyone's on your social media engine.
P.S. I never used Vine too but then again I read and heard about it.
TikTok won because like other guy said; videos are the most immersive media and I claim that people having short attention span made them hungry for short form of entertainment like short videos.
From time to time I watch compilation of TikTok videos on YouTube and I think "compilation" as a media form is another interesting thing that somebody should experiment with.
Speaking of social networking; my understanding of social networking/media landscape is that Facebook sort of generalized social networking and social networking features and now apps like Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok are specializing in photos, ephemeral sharing and short videos respectively plus WhatsApp specialized in messaging but Zuck did a great job of making Facebook Messenger a standalone app and then specializing it according to demands of messaging crowd. And yea Zuck acquired Instagram and WhatsApp along the way so competing apps don't hurt Facebook and its family of apps.
Photos weren’t always so easy to share. Having places where media was only based on your friends or people you knew was incredibly novel and useful. A single website you could log in to in order to view photos (and eventually videos) related to you was novel when we all had flip phones and a “camera phone” was special.
Sharing media was tough. Photos - let alone, video - required tech, bandwidth, and a whole-ass computer.
I think that in addition to the social aspect dwindling, changing, or evolving, we must also account for the fact that media is so much easier to create, share, and consume. This is true with friends, relatives, and strangers; locally and afar.
We don’t “need” social media anymore because the media part is mostly solved. Fewer and fewer people don’t have a connected media viewer and creator in their pocket at all times anymore.
Being social with media is as simple as texting someone, or many people. And we do it in high definition all day, every day. No login. No ads. No algorithm.
For that reason I think that what we think of as social networks really are dead. It's not what people truly wanted in the first place.
Imagine what social networking could be!! The best days of social networking are still ahead. Now that the pretenders are leaving, we can actually start solving the problem. Social networking is dead. Long live what will emerge from the ashes. It might not be called social networking, but it will be, just better.
It'll be called "Community". I don't have to imagine. We've been building the Community Operating System for 10 years. And it's available now. No, it's not Mastodon. It's Qbix :)
Yes, it's open source and you can use it now. It's basically a Wordpress for Web 2.0 ... keep in mind that Wordpress powers 40% of the Web 1.0 web. We want to power 40% of the Web 2.0 social web.
Back in 2014 my cofounder and I met with Tim Berners-Lee and his SOLID team. There was a movement underway to decentralize the web. Today, Jack Dorsey is trying to build "Web5" along the same lines but with Microsoft ION / Sidetree protocol, rather than SPARQL (@timbl's obsession) semantic data and JSON-LD.
It's coming along. It's always been coming along. But it's open source so many people don't hear about it, until they do. MySQL took 8 years, NGiNX tooks 10 years but eventually they took over. Open source always does.
Watch the video and feel free to spend some time on the weekend playing with it. https://qbix.com/platform/guide :)
Give us a shot if you want to try to a new form of social networking: https://www.aspen.cloud/
I don't think this will happen. I don't think the failure of existing social networks to do this was a fluke, I think it's a systematic problem that will recur every single time you try it. Like a wagon traveling down a dirt road, any social networking platform will eventually wind up in the same ruts as its predecessors. It may be human nature, it may be economics, it may be the incidental factors related to our current technology and networking structure works. I admit I don't fully understand the mechanism, but I'll go out on a limb anyway.
This is like the crack epidemic when I was growing up. China is hitting the west back hard for the Opium wars. First fentanyl and now TicTok addiction algorithms. We are doomed.
I get that tik tok definitely creates another paradigm shift, likely for the worse, but it's not like social networking is not without issues ina very similar capacity.
As far as I remember that was the first social media website.
We chose to not make our user's album public by default, where most competitors are doing so and benefit from the SEO involved, but we want to focus on sharing with family and friends, not the whole world.
Now the elephant in the room is monetisation and getting people to pay for their usage, this is not easy but we firmly believe it can be done but probably not with a trajectory allowing you to raise VC money.
It's basically a private timeline, written in Markdown and with optional pictures. Also provides a RSS feed.
Not affiliated, but was in touch with the author this week to help him with his Docker setup and hosting: https://havenweb.org/2022/08/10/pikapods.html
There must still be plenty of room and potential value in more focused social interaction that is more highly aligned with user interests other than viral videos.
Friendster was interesting, myspace was weird, but facebook just became a boring manicured lawn. Eventually it turned to astroturf; fake green to make it look beautiful.
Perhaps snapchat is the evolution of the social network; a closer "social" live snapshot of people we are close to.
Or perhaps its something else.
Most social sites have stayed in the UI paradigm of 2003/2004. Just have a look at how much wasted space there is at LinkedIn.
Sites like Lunchclub, Clubhouse, and Finclout are sites where the tools are expanded through social networks (i.e, come for the tool stay for the community)
↑ it's a long list
https://makeawebsitehub.com/social-media-sites/ ← "101 social networking sites you 'need to know about' (ugh) in 2022"
Like Facebook hasn't been that and tried to be even more so since their very first day.
The string of articles with threatening undertones about Tiktok should really lead people from the US to question their tendency to give a pass to the most egregious behaviour from tech companies as long as they are US.
Social networking has pretty much replaced TV & traditional press - now it too must morph.
the biggest obstacles though I think to the social network are the app stores - not necessarily their own decisions but what politics of the day may impose on the store.
But what is next? Long tail social networks?
Whose rollout of what now? I updated my app to be sure, even though it only showed fixes and perf in the update. I loaded it in my browser and it looks the same as it has since I last looked months ago. Is this overzealous hypothesizing about being A/B tested or something?
If we keep inventing the same things over and over again my bet is that the next big thing will be connecting people in small groups based on geographical location or sub-culture like in the long long ago in the times of IRC.
I can see Telegram broadcast channels (or Signal/Matrix groups with only sending permissions for admin) filling the void for people who'd like to "microblog" short updates like a blog, but just for friends.
The push into short form is just another way to get users to stay in app longer. Come for your friend's posts/stories (or marketplace, groups, etc), stay for the Reels.
Not the end. Just the beginning.
We just need a better way to filter/trollkill.
What more do we need?
Unpunished? To continue committing their moral (at least) crimes?
Like it was when I started using internet and IRC
TikTok is similar to TV. People would sit around the TV for hours per day, TikTok is usually in the magnitude of minutes. The algortyhm also does not feel politically or culturally motivated, unlike Reddit.
For a brief period of time, the internet genuinely subverted the corporate beetle-men and the gatekeepers who've always owned the "official" or real world. You could send an email to a well-known, accomplished person and there was a 75 percent you'd hear back. There really was a culture of punk equality... of course, we were quite harsh to people who used the platform to say stupid things (and, since I was young, I said stupid things a lot), because that's requisite if you want to stay relatively meritocratic. The internet was smaller in the 1990s and there were far fewer ways to make money from it, but it was legitimately subversive.
We've lost that, though. Twitter used to be a way for nobodies to gain a degree of influence. Now it's the opposite--instead, it measures and ratifies our lack of influence, because every time you apply for a job, the bosses know that you're no threat if mistreated--the fact that you only have 3,000 followers, as opposed to 100,000, proves that.
The internet and the web didn't fix capitalism; instead, to the detriment of all of us, it ended up looking like capitalism. The technology grew up too fast; our moribund economic system hadn't died yet (and still hasn't). This was bad enough, but if capitalism is still around when we see AGI (granted, I don't think that'll actually happen for at least a hundred years) we are properly and irreversibly facefucked.