Overloaded With Gimme Gimme
I don’t really use the sites, so maybe I’m out of the loop here. If you are busy with work, the occasional college class, family, friends (real friends that you actually speak with every now and then), your time for relational sites is going to be strictly limited. Robert Scoble’s business depends upon him being connected to the pulse of interesting ventures that are launching or growing. If he misses the early stages and has to compete with MSM journalists for interviews, he loses. In other words, when Scoble is on Facebook or LinkedIn, he’s actually helping himself do what he gets paid to do.
Another big market for social media is full-time students. But even there, it is probably self-limiting. The student who has major loans and works sixty hours a week at Gree-C Burger to get through school is probably not going to have a lot of time for fiddling with lists of so-called friends who want to fill his messaging area with repetitive cut & pastes and quiz links (my impression of the few MySpace pages I’ve seen). In that sense, these networks appeal mostly to wealthier students (and high school students) who do not have to work and do not have much else to do.
This is similar to the current situation with e-mail. We all have one or more acquaintances that fills our inboxes with forwarded messages. Sometimes they are calls to action, sometimes hoaxes, sometimes cute images or flash sites, sometimes offensive slurs, and even occasionally a “Why don’t you ever respond to my messages” message. Then we have those <expletive deleted> that insist on sending out piles of get-rich-quick, pharmaceutical, and other scam messages (including the ones filled with malware infectors). It has reached the point where you dare not publicly publish your e-mail address without serious filtering in place.
My current employment does not have anything to do with connecting to the pulse of interesting new or growing ventures in Silicon Valley / Route 128 / Research Triangle. Nor has any of my previous employment. My college years were mostly filled with full-time and overtime work, rushing from class to work or from work to class. When I say I work too much and always have, I really mean it. (Not that I wouldn’t mind doing something where I was exposed to more new technologies.)
If it weren’t for Pidgin and Kopete, I would not use IMs (and even then, it isn’t frequent). If it weren’t for Akismet, I wouldn’t have comments. I have another blog that has had fewer than 700 views, but nearly 3,000 spam comments and trackbacks blocked by Akismet. Even moderating comments and trackbacks gets to be painful at that rate.
When a relative sent me an invitation to Friendster a few years ago, I turned it down. I had enough trouble trying to keep up with e-mails from people I didn’t know that wanted something from me. I didn’t want to join a service whose main purpose was to enable people to bug people they did not know with requests to do something for them.
On the other hand, a service that enables some kind of community and continued communication with people that I actually know (or at least know we have something in common) might be useful, if spam and contact management tasks were not overwhelming. I’d have to know that my data is my data, and be able to access much of that data from outside the service, including with competing services. I want the service to be part of the general Internet, not to lock me inside of their own little world.
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