I’ve been following social networks and social network news and analysis for a while (because of welshare), I’ve even written a couple of articles. But recently I stopped doing that. And not only because welshare became an “on hold” project. Social media is boring. Nothing interesting is happening there. Neither from a technical perspective, nor from an end-user perspective.
What is the situation in three sentences? Facebook and twitter have tons of users, Google+ tries to catch up and LinkedIn have occupied their niche. Neither of these make any meaningful innovations and simply refine their UI. Apart from that, tons of new startups (“a social network for X”) try to get off the ground, and either fail immediately, or appeal to a limited number of people and usually lack a sustainable business model.
And yes, I know facebook introduced the graph search. Reality might prove me wrong, but I think it’s a useless feature. I’m sure it has been great fun implementing and allowed engineers to dive into quite complex tasks, but the premise that you’d like to search like that is odd to me. The front-end of LinkedIn would probably be considered good back in 2006. Now sowing a big green “Your request was successful” when you click “Like” is just lame. Twitter is simple by definition and apart form a couple of bugs that stop you from tweeting and viewing replies quite too often, there’s nothing interesting in their development. Google+ is still a mystery for me – nothing appears to happen there, and they continue claiming their user base increases. I’ve stopped using foursquare for the total lack of point, and few other application makes actual sense – I’ve tried Path, Pinterest, Instagram, and they are boring.
Don’t get me wrong – all of these applications may appeal to some people. But what are they? CRUD (created/retrieve/update/delete – a technical term for simple data input and retrieval software component). People think of some scenario and make a beautiful CRUD for it. If it’s beautiful enough, lots of people that have nothing more interesting to do jump in. 2 years later there’s still no revenue and the service is still pointless. But I’ll not digress in the topic of the internet startup bubble.
Basically, nothing happens in social media. Marketers may tell otherwise, because they still find it interesting to understand how facebook page administration works (and it doesn’t work well – tons of bugs and seemingly incorrect statistics), but for most of the people social networks have become something like a street or a park – it’s just there for you to use, you don’t pay much attention to it and don’t expect anything interesting to happen with it. By that I don’t mean to devalue social networks. On the contrary – they have become a part of our lives. What I’m ranting against is the enormous interest that is still invested in them. Tech journalists, analysts, entrepreneurs, venture investors and business angels – all of these seem to have some odd obsession with “social media”.
I think no innovation can happen in that field. Let’s focus our efforts elsewhere. Creating more interesting software, reviewing more innovative applications, investing in more thoughtful startups.