Excursions by Amit Gawande

Social Networks won't fade away

Irrespective of what the popular belief is, the need for social networks is not going away — more so amongst those who are not technology oriented. Sure, some particular services that exist today may die down. But the medium won’t.

Just look at the history of the social media structures on the Internet. There has always existed a network of some form where every person that was connected could hang out. The initial users that adopted the digital life were techies, so their solutions were comparatively tech-savvy. I remember I have spent hours discussing and debating with my friends on IRC channels and on email groups and on XMPP-based IM clients.

I believe even in the world where not everybody and everything was connected, there existed mediums to communicate, to interact, to share. They might have been analog, or of forms that needed one to be in the presence of others. But they existed nonetheless.

In today’s age of smartphones, it’s become a lot simpler to get online and be connected” with others. As a result, there are more people, more common non-techies, who are always on the look out for simpler ways to share their thoughts once they get online and stay in touch with others. They will sign-up with any service that promises them that. And they did.

Sure, the proponents of the open internet, myself included, dislike the current social networking behemoths - Facebook, and Twitter. But I think it is important to not let the disdain for these specific platforms turn into a complete rejection of the medium itself. There will always exist some structure that can facilitate communication in the form of text, images and other share-worthy stuff. The state became dire when we let a set of private entities wall this structure in their silos.

No doubt, Facebook and Twitter are in decline today. But the terrible scenario can recur if the common, but rising set of connected users is not provided with more open, more interoperable alternatives that are equally engaging and simple to use. And do so before other silos take over the medium again.

I know of the services that already meet the open and interoperable” characteristic. But the majority contenders reek of by-the-techies-for-the-techies” fervour. So there’s still a long way to go to meet the engaging and simple” part — the one closest is Micro.blog. I believe there exists a group of brilliant minds that understands the importance of addressing this. It is incumbent upon this group to work towards that.

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