Over the past few years we’ve seen the world of social networking go through a number of iterations — Friendster, MySpace, Facebook. While each seems to improve upon the last, in some shape or another, the concept remains the same – an online place to connect with those who we know in some capacity from our daily lives. Typically, one would sign-up create a profile and connect with friends, beyond that the interaction has depended I suppose on how much spare time you had and what was offered on the particular site.
MySpace did a good job of becoming a venue for musical acts and comedians to easily have an online presence and interact with their fanbase, or to establish one. Then Facebook came along and offered users not only the ability to connect with entertainment based users, but to also form groups about them, or causes that they were interested in, as well as opening up its service as a platform for various applications, which enhanced the user experience and offered users a wide variety of reasons to keep returning.
In the midst of Facebook’s rise, which has evolved as a growing platform for its users, a small project called Twitter was developing and taking shape. Formed by Evan Williams, the same entrepreneur who earlier brought Blogging to the masses with Blogger (now owned by Google) the service simply asked users “What are you doing?” That question became the springboard of invention and in many ways and altered yet again the communications paradigm and the world of social networking. Now, instead of filling out a lengthly profile users could share with anyone that cared to listen what they were doing in 140 characters. (The same length as that last sentence, a nod to Inc for the idea see link below.)
After a failed bid to buy Twitter, in Facebook’s recent re-design, which garnered a lot of attention the social networking site poses the question to its users, “What’s on your mind?” Visually speaking, as a part of the re-design this question has taken on a central role to the Facebook platform and user experience. While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I think it begs the question has Facebook’s time now passed? Has our communications landscape been shifted and dwindled to 140 characters?
It seems to be working as Twitter has become mainstream in a sense garnering media attention from The Today Show, to athletes, and celebrities of all types. In the process, communications barriers have been broken down and the world has become a smaller place allowing anyone to join the conversation and interact and follow any other member. Often it is said that simple is better – and maybe that is exactly what Twitter is counting on.
Now, I’m just left wondering if the next social network will have us communicating in acronyms only…Let me know your thoughts on the Twitter and Facebook debate on Twitter @jasoncohen.