How do you gauge the lifespan of new social networking tools – does it even matter how long they last?
It matters how long they last when,
like Facebook, the owners keep a copy of data and clearly the longer that lasts, the fatter the Holy Grail repository of millions of individuals’ personal details.
I got thinking about this after a [government] contact on LinkedIn left me a post in repsonse to my ‘is Twitter valuable for journalists?’ poll. saying:
“I am yet to be convinced. It generally appears ‘personal’, ‘short-term’ and ‘ephemeral.’
Facebook wasn’t designed to be a global phenomenon and who forsaw the popularity of email? Whether our grandkids will be using Twitter or not remains to be seen, as something better might come along or people might just get bored of it. New social networking tools spring up so often because of their collaborative, DIY nature and the acceptance of the geek that it is highly probably something better will come along or people will tire of Twitter, for example.
Are there any reasons left in the world to design yet more social networking tools for new purposes or have all bases been covered? We have social or collaborative tools for reporting local problems such as: graffiti (FixMyStreet) and encouraging democratic engagement (all of the MySociety projects); for staying in touch for fun (Facebook); for quickly sending messages and tracking people (Twitter); and so on.
There must be plenty more reasons to develop yet another web tool for us to play with but in future, like many new products with a PR team behind them, it may be that we will continue to be sold ‘must have’ web tools that we are convinced we need in our lives.