Social Networking, Mang. It’s Like the Internet All Over Again.

Brief but intense “holy shit” moments have been hitting me quite a bit in the last couple weeks. For the last 5 years, my social networking experience has largely consisted of Facebook, and I took it for granted as an application that was just really good at what it did.

Maybe that’s even what Zuck thought. (Hey Zuckerberg, comment on my blog whydontcha. I’m having convulsions here.)

I have often wished I was twenty-something in 1995, prime for the internet boom. But in 1995, would I have recognized what was taking place? Would I have realized the extensive impact the internet would have on my life and on human history? I don’t know.

But I’m twenty something now, and I think it’s happening again. Something incredibly profound is happening, and it will affect us forever. It won’t just affect your life online. People will inevitably be 100% connected to this vast social grid, because they want to be.

I am guilty of drinking way too much soda + coffee and getting delusional later in the day, but I don’t think I’m blowing this out of proportion. I’m almost dizzy from thinking about it.

Some questions that are cropping up in my mind include:

  1. How will Facebook and other social networks become even more real-time?
  2. How will desktop-based social browsers like RockMelt fair? Don’t RockMelt’s social extensions essentially do what Facebook’s more portable Apps can already do if they wanted to? If desktop social browsers prevail, why did they?
  3. How many investors invest in social apps because they think anything social will make money, and not because they understand the insanity of it all?
  4. What is sum of it all? Where is all this stuff leading us? Social networking is surely not the terminus. There’s a crazy future ahead of us.

That’s all for now. Comment if you think I’m all wrong, or you have some answers for those questions. @seejohnrun? @johnbellone?

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  • twentysomething

    I have often wished I was twenty-something in 1995, prime for the internet boom. But in 1995, would I have recognized what was taking place? Would I have realized the extensive impact the internet would have on my life and on human history? I don’t know.

    As someone who was “twenty-something in 1995″, and I happened to be a part of and help build the first “state-wide ISP”, I can tell you what it was like. Or at least offer “my opinion”, which may or may not be yours or anyone elses. :)

    Do I share you opinion that “Something incredibly profound is happening, and it will affect us forever” with regard to, what I assume is “social networking”? Nope. Again, this is my opinion, and my opinion only, but the current “social networking” phenomena would rank as “So what? *yawn*” compared to what those early days were like.

    Let me tell you: I can remember as if it was yesterday the day I was parking my car, heading in to the ‘office’ that was the ISP, and the first time I saw ‘www.ups.com’ on the side of a UPS truck… it hit me like a ton of bricks that “this is really huge, change the world big”, and in a very real sense that for anyone who saw that truck that wanted to go to “www.ups.com”, there was probably a 30-40% chance they were going through the stuff I built. This was the first time I had seen a DNS / website address on something intended solely for “non-geeks”, and at the time, I’m sure most of the population who saw it said “WTF is http://www.ups.com?” Seriously, there was a time, right around ’95, when 90-95% of the population had no idea what “www.ups.com” was.

    For those that were there, the experience of seeing NCSA Mosaic fire up for the first time, and that first web page… In two minutes you knew that nothing would ever be the same again. There was no “I wonder if this whacky browser thing is going to take off.” Nope. Two minutes FLAT and you knew everything had changed.

    Honestly. Just try to imagine what it would be like to see a web browser for the very first time, when nothing like it had ever existed before. Now try to imagine the same thing for “social networking”. Which would you be more exited about? :) So, my answer to “Would I have realized the extensive impact the internet would have on my life and on human history?” is “Yes”. In fact everything that has happened since then, at least for me, registers as “insignificant” compared to those early days- you could almost see what was coming, you just had to spend the time and effort to go and do it, and everyone else saw it too, and they were busy trying to get there before someone else did- that was “the Internet bubble” that burst ten years ago.

  • Kenny Katzgrau

    @twentysomething

    First of all, thank you for the most thoughtful comment on my blog, ever.

    Secondly, I think your answer makes me want to live back then even more. As for social networking, I still think it’s something major, but it’s definitely an aftershock from the dawn of the internet.

    Facebook has truly shown the world what “social” is: nearly real-time conversations, exchanging of personal items (pictures, notes, etc), and what seems like full reach to anyone you know.

    A few years ago, applications were calling themselves “social” because you could link up with some people on the app and call them “friends”. Now many apps are really starting to get the idea of what that word means. We have Zynga, GitHub, Twitter, etc. These things are becoming ingrained in our lives, just like the internet in general.

    I think that’s where the big wave lies. We thought the internet itself made the world smaller — social networking is the actual vehicle behind it all, and people are embracing it in all forms, bringing it deeper and deeper into their lives.

  • Ingrid Lima

    Hi Kenny. I’m asking myself same of the same questions too. I was googleing for answers and I found this post. I’m dying to know what is going to be the next phenomenon and how can I use it as fashion digital media. Fashion is my field and I would love the possibility to make it more search+ share with consistent content built by anyone. Like a dynamic second life real-time experience mixing up with the first-life. I’m thinking a lot about 4D.
    Social networks are the moment phenomenon obviously, but I can’t believe 5 years forward people will still use it. Just like another club in town. Things change so quickly. I’m also 20-something and I was a kid when I had my first white big desktop. Then, some black desktops and now just a laptop that I almost don’t use it. I access the internet more form devices like ipad, mobile or tv.
    We don’t need any more to stay in a room to be connected. Internet is already with us 24/7, wherever we go. The bound between digital and real life doesn’t exist how it used to be. The question is… how we can accelerate this new future that is just beginning.