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Social Network Fatigue Coming? 196

mrspin offers the opinion of ZDNet blogger Steve O'Hear that users may soon tire of social networks — if they don't open up and embrace standards allowing greater interoperability among the different networks. O'Hear writes: "Unless the time required to sign-in, post to, and maintain profiles across each network is reduced, it will be impossible for most users to participate in multiple sites for very long." In an earlier post he went into more detail on the same subject, with extensive opinions from four creators of social networks. A contrary data point comes from the Apophenia blog, in a post noting the tendency among young users to create ephemeral profiles, and not to mind at all if they have to re-enter data. "Teens are not looking for universal anything; that's far too much of a burden if losing track of things is the norm." What does Slashdot think — is data portability among social networking sites a big deal or not?
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Social Network Fatigue Coming?

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  • Old News (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @10:53PM (#17439042)
    Facebook and other sites already support importing, exporting, and synching data through RSS feeds and SOAP/XML APIs. They also support importing contacts from other accounts.
  • Relevancy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @10:53PM (#17439044)
    Other than the 20 crowd on MySpace, what's the relevancy of these sites?, where you can find the email address of the douche who sat behind you in History class? Yahoo groups, where you can look at a lot of bad, amateur porn?
    Is there fatigue over these sites, or just ennui, due to their fundamental lack of any content, other than being circle-jerks?
  • Re:No, it's not (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hahafaha ( 844574 ) * <> on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @11:29PM (#17439356)
    MySpace arguably has some of the worse tech and a hideous interface


    But seriously, people will keep switching, no doubt about it. What will change is what they switch. Instead of changing small, dedicated services, they will switch larger ones.

  • IT'S ALL TRUE! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Philip K Dickhead ( 906971 ) <> on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @11:40PM (#17439440) Journal
    I'm even sick of posting journal entries!

  • Re:Relevancy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dystopian Rebel ( 714995 ) * on Tuesday January 02, 2007 @11:44PM (#17439472) Journal
    Is there fatigue over these sites, or just ennui, due to their fundamental lack of any content

    It's the fundamental lack of ~intelligent~ content that makes me not care about any of it. Any intelligent comment on Digg or Youtube is like a tree falling in a forest somewhere. The Usenet was exclusive at one time and still has interesting specialty discussions. The WWW has proven that millions of people who can afford Internet access have nothing to say and has become worse than Tee-Vee. The latter is an amoral corporate economic force exploiting willing sponges, but at least the writing is sometimes good.
  • Re:Relevancy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theStorminMormon ( 883615 ) <.theStorminMormon. .at.> on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @01:16AM (#17440206) Homepage Journal
    Because you need to have a life to get social networking sites.

    I don't mean to be harsh, and I'm not looking to get modded a troll, but most people who enjoy using social sites over the long-term (in my opinion) have a lot of friends they actually care to keep in contact with. I'm a big Facebook user. It helps me keep up with my two sisters away at college as well as a lot of old friends of mine from high school and from college that I actually care to keep up with.

    This is very different from internet-based relationships. (And that's where "have a life" may be harsh.) If you're into EVE Online or whatever, that's great. But your relationship with those people is, fundamentally, based in a digital medium. Sometimes MMO players get together in real life, sometimes really tight messageboard communities do the same thing. But that's the exception rather than the norm. The norm is for users brought together by a common interest to have little interest in maintaining relationships with those people in the absence of the common interest.

    I played Planetside for a while. Not really an MMORPG, but certainly an MMO back in its day. I had an outfit (Guild, if you will) and several people that I considered friends in my Planetside world. Not only were they in my outfit, but we worked well together, laughed at each others jokes, and generally enjoyed playing together. That was the extent of it, however. I'm not saying I would not have cared to know how their day was outside of Planetside, or how their relationship was going. I may have cared, but that would have been a different kind of relationship. It would have been, for lack of a less-harsh term, caring about their real life and not just the game life.

    American culture is more mobile than ever. It's normal go to high school in one city, go to college in another city, and get a job in a third city. And even if you don't move around that much, some of your friends certainly will. It's precisely these 18 - 25 year olds who use these sites. They are trying to find a kind of stability in their ever-changing world. If your entire circle of friends is cycled at least every 4 years, you may want to find a way to combat that social churn and get a more stable set of friends. A sense of permenance and community.

    As far as the original question about portability goes, I don't think it's that much of an issue. I chose Facebook precisely because it's not MySpace. I have no desire to be a part of the MySpace community, or any other community. If I do want to join another community, then I think re-entering my data would be a minimal issue. Some data portability would be nice, but hardly required. And in any case, functional data portability (e.g. not just my personal stats, but my friends) is really difficult without creating semi-official digital selves or using a lot of personally-identifiable data. Either of these options result in serious privacy concerns, so I'll trade a little re-keying for a new social cite to keep my data relatively anonymous.

  • I doubt any "standard" will develop among different social network sites.

    It may not have to. Imagine some software that would come pre-installed with most web hosting accounts or easily installed via c-panel a la wordpress or movabletype and people will no longer need a centralized site in order to connect in the way they seem to want to.

    I don't think it has anything to do with software or the interface; I think it has everything to do with the users.

    Participants will probably settle into communities where they feel most at home, and most comfortable, where they are surrounded by the most like-minded people. For some this will be Fark, for others it will be Digg, Reddit, or Netscape. This is where the wisdom of the masses and the tyranny of the mob will really conflict, I think, and the sites and communities that thrive the most will be the ones where there is some sort of accountability, and some form of moderation.

    Of course, I say this as a 34 year-old who's completely fed up with people being unaccountable shitcocks online. The 24 year-old version of me probably would have had a different opinion (and spent the bulk of his time at a different website.)

  • by loganrapp ( 975327 ) <loganrapp@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @03:36AM (#17441128)
    Well, as with all things, there will be a new generation of social networking. The buzzword may be new(er), but the act of using the Internet to connect with other people (locally or globally) is, well, pretty much what people do on the Internet. (Porn is still a connection, just one-way and occasionally painful.) There was Usenet, the short-lived Geocities era, e-mail, IRC/Webchat, and then we've moved on to LiveJournal and all its permutations, then to Myspace, Facebook, RSS feeds. People will recognize the successes and failures of the current era and move on. It's how it works. Or maybe Myspace won't become a dinosaur and do a massive 2.0 update that wipes away all those horrid profiles and deal with spam better than it has. The problem with Myspace is that its solution for the clogging of its tubes is by... yeah, you guessed it, adding more shit.
  • Re:IT'S ALL TRUE! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jdray ( 645332 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @11:50AM (#17444900) Homepage Journal
    Exactly. I've been struggling to figure out what the draw is to any one of these sites. MySpace evidently started out as a way to promote unsigned bands, which is cool, but, while it still seems to happen, the most important feature of that site looks to be the counter for the number of "friends" you have. I checked out Orkut, thinking that, being part of Google, it would be cool and I would like it. Nope, no luck there. StumbleUpon has a cool hook with its basic feature of URL tracking and sharing, but you can't enter metadata about URLs the way you can on, and the "social" aspects of it seem to be limited to exchanging private messages (yet another e-mail box) and posting to forums linked to some categories of groups, but not others (wtf?). Of course, then there's Slashdot that has lots of news and discussion, but who really uses the Bookmarks system? Did you even know it was there?

    All these sites seem to be approaching some sort of end state where they have all the right features, stability and usability. About that time, Microsoft will take notice and put a billion dollars into the coolest looking, feature-rich system that will only work well with IE. It will be based on SharePoint. People will flock to it, except for the hundred thousand or so Slashdot members who will decry it (correctly) for requiring a DNA signature for signing in, and a usage agreement that says anything you post there, including your award-winning photographs, soon-to-be-published books, etc. are the sole property of The Empire. Most teens won't care, because they'll be able to check their latest "friends" counts from their fully-integrated Windows Mobile phone.
  • Re:Relevancy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by theStorminMormon ( 883615 ) <.theStorminMormon. .at.> on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @06:41PM (#17451516) Homepage Journal
    So you are limited to a physical medium when you "have a life"?

    Let me respond to this with a question: do you really think that you can have as fulfilling a relationship online as you can in real life? Now you personally might be able to, but I'd say that's a sad commentary on your interpersonal relationship skills. And I don't mean this as a burn. Let's just look at it in terms of data. How much information can you convey with just text? How much with text and photos? How much with text, photos, and video? How about adding audio?

    I'm not trying to say that meatspace is the only thing that matters. There is genuine content to relationships even when they are restricted to nothing more than plain text IMs and a few emoticons. But if you're trying to tell me that you can get as much social interaction in a chatroom as at a party, then I just don't buy it. Not even a little bit.

    We're still physical beings, and I don't think that's a draw back. From the subtleties of facial expression and body language that no amount of pixels can replicate to the sound of a voice to the smell of perfume to the sheer physical presence of another human being, meatspace offers more potential for human interaction than cyberspace.

    Your reduction to "only mising touch, smell and taste" is infantile. Are you trying to tell me that watching football on TV - even in high def - is the *same experience* as watching it in person? Personally, I'd rather watch it on TV. Better viewing angle. But the point is it's different. This is one of those things that's so blindingly obvious it's hard to prove. I'll try just one more small example.

    It's pretty much well known that, if you are going to break up with a girl, there's an inherent ranking in how you should do it. From worst to best:

    1. post it
    2. email
    3. letter
    3. phone message
    4. phone call
    5. face to face

    Sure the exact ordering is up for grabs, and you can always concoct some exceptional hypothetical, but it comes down to the fact that we are social animals and you simple can't convey the data through your cable modem that you can from actually being with someone. Even when you're not saying anything at all, just sitting next to a good friend can be extremely meaningful.

    Have we forgotten this?


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