Slow Steam

So after my last post I did a ton of research and it turns out lots of people feel that there is great potential in an open social web. It is true that "social" is on a fearsome trending streak. But when you think about it, the web has always been social (email, AIM) so what's really changed?

I would say two things are responsible for the uptick over the last decade. First is that as people learn the language of social computing, they gain more power through the language. Somebody tweeting has a greater social advantage than somebody not tweeting. The tipping point happens when it becomes a disadvantage *not* to be tweeting.

The second reason is that technology is getting exponentially easier to understand. Good design practices and tech advances mean that the learning curve is dropping - people are adapting faster to keep up and at the same time demand more. Moore's law has crept from hardware to software, and now into our social lives.

Of course nobody can predict what technologies will trend and what won't, or even how long they'll last. Humans are complex social creatures. But I do feel that as social creatures our need to be social will break down barriers. The concept of Facebook or any one entity having a monopoly on social networking just doesn't make sense to me long term. Eventually all networks will have to open their doors and communicate with the wider web, and see each other as equally valuable. I'm not saying cliques and private networks won't exist - sure, but there will be an ongoing need for an open and standardized way to create an online identity as well as push and receive messages to and from friends, both through messages as well as real time.

I'm glad to see lots of people already working towards this vision of the future. Keep up the good fight! But from my own observations these types of changes involving mass adoption could take years or it could be a matter of months. It's just too hard to predict. But as long as people are learning and evolving, eventually there will be enough demand for an open, federated social web on a mass scale. At that point we can stop talking about Facebook all the time and get back to building real relationships with family and friends.