The Evolution of Social Networking
When social networking started to become a part of our daily vernacular (around 2006?), the options to choose from were a far cry from the complex, niche-market buffet of networks we have today. We’ve come a long way in a short time, culminating in today having general social networks like Facebook and Google+ and literally thousands of niche and specialty purpose sites such as Twitter, Meetup, Chatroulette, Pinterest, and so on and so on. This isn’t news to anyone, so I’m not going to waste space naming them all.
The point is that the number of social networks has grown—evolved—at a rapid pace and surprisingly this trend has only gotten faster recently. True to the principles of evolution, each new network adds a new twist, flavor, or improvement. Facebook brought with it a better way to organize content and make connections. Twitter brought a simpler way to broadcast a status. New sharing networks like Pinterest are showing that there’s value to be found within each individual’s interests.
On top of this, each network has its strengths, its weaknesses, and its defining constituents. Facebook is for friends. LinkedIn is for professional connection. Instagram is for pictures. We are seeing not only purposeful niche sites emerge (like JuggaloBook, my new favorite), but also niche users staking their claim in every network. As one example, did you know that Google+ has become a veritable haven for photographers? But I digress, what’s important is that as networks mature, they begin to develop their own dedicated addicts (Interestingly, Facebook seems to be the most successful social network to have remained its mass-appeal, but that’s another article). Unfortunately, this means that the ‘social networks’ are filling up, and it’s becoming harder and harder to find a niche that isn’t already represented online in a suitable way already.
If there is something to be learned from the evolution of social networking, it’s that no network lasts forever. Lucky for us, our lifespan is longer than a social network’s—until the robots take over at least—so we can do more than witness a plateau in their lifespan. We get to watch them be born, grow, and die. We’ve seen MySpace become one of the most popular sites and then shrivel as Facebook emerged as the next iteration of online connection. We’ve witnessed new sites continually introduce unique benefits and features and impressively, Facebook has stayed intact and is still The Social Network for connection. But as is the case with any species that changes, it can only survive so long before it needs to do more than change. It needs to evolve.
The question that comes to mind here is, can Facebook adapt enough to address the new direction of interest and community-based optimization and still be Facebook? Taking into account how much worse on-site engagement has become after the invasion of apps and ads to that system, not to mention the commonplace FB bashing, my inclination is to learn towards ‘no.’ Obviously there are still millions of users and Facebook remains the big fish in the big pond, but the numbers are declining, and the market is realizing this. Its not a coincidence that Google+ came out last year and UNTHINK launched a brash barrage against Facebook’s ‘unfair’ privacy policies. The lesser-beings of the Internet are finding little wrinkles, tiny chinks in The Social Network’s armor, and are taking little bites.
What I’m saying is that social networks as a whole are evolving into something greater, something more real than over-simplified connections. And while smaller sites are coming out and pursuing this by the hundreds, Facebook, the unquestionable apex predator of networking, might just be pushing the pedal to the floor and pigeon-holing itself someplace that is not where we need to go to evolve the Internet.
What I’m saying is that It’s time for social networks to evolve again. I want a site that will allow me to grow my relationships both online and offline without imposing an awkward social side-effect (we are all guilty of Facebook creeping).
What we’re saying is that OurPangea is the evolution of community. Our Pangea is the social network of collaboration. OurPangea can unite us all.