Daniel Scocco of Daily Blog Tips posed an interesting question today. Will Websites be the Social Networks of the Future? Daniel makes three assumptions. The first is that most people will need or want an online presence in the future. I believe this to be a no brainer. At some point, people will NEED to be on the web in order to move up in the world.
His second assumption is that people like to own their own stuff. Now this is an interesting point in and of itself because currently, we’re seeing a ton of people producing content and hanging out on sites/profiles they do not own. Most of which could be deleted from the net at any time the company seemed fit to do so. When will the revolution take place where people end up going back to doing things they can control and own versus giving the breadbasket away. Or is this not an issue?
Assumption number three is that technology will evolve, bringing social features to any website. Here is where I see WordPress and MovableType setting the stage for this to occur sooner rather than later. It wasn’t long ago before Six Apart purchased the social networking service Pownce. Now, the software is already starting to show up in recent versions of MT to allow the software to be more socially oriented. On the other side of the aisle, it has been confirmed that at some point in the near future, BuddyPress will contain a bundle of plugins for the stand alone version of the WordPress software essentially allowing people to easily self-host their own WordPress powered social network.
All in all, Daniel is on to something. One of his assumptions is already coming true and I think one and two are the ones we have to wait for. I also believe it’s a matter of when, not if, these things occur. How about you though? Do you think that websites will serve as the social networks of the future?
I question the idea that people will flock to WordPress & MT in order to own their own social network. That idea simply doesn’t solve the problem as stated. My comment here is content that I am giving away. If this site goes down the comment will go away. The same thing will happen if someone else builds their own facebook or myspace. Participants will post content that will still be vulnerable to a disappearing web site. In fact, because individual web sites come and go so often, the problem would actually be exacerbated.
Personally, I don’t think this is actually a problem. Most people don’t think of their comments or conversations as content that is owned. They simply think of their comments as comments. The big problem is that if everybody does a social network site, who will they network with? 🙂
Not sure I’m seeing any of this as predictive. As Twitter and FaceBook continue to go mainstream, people will get comfortable with using them. If they close down, then people will find somewhere else to go. The majority of people do not have the initiative to create and manage their own Social networks, they’d rather just participate. Which is why Twitter and Facebook have grown so fast.
Who will win?
I think assumption number three is what makes the most sense, I didn’t about BuddyPress was onto something, but since they are, it’s not long before the reference “Facebook and MySpace” becomes “WordPress and MT”, and as Jeff said, if it happens, people r gonna just turn their back on sites like FB and MS and move onto have something their own.
What happens if those sites that collect the info go down? I think if Facebook EVER or Twitter ever folds, it will remind us that the best thing to do is do it ourselves.
Sorry, but I see things going in the opposite direction. People see less and less value in “owning” online real estate. My twenty-something kids can’t imagine having their own blog or site, yet they have an active presence online. Google and Twitter will serve as the social networks of the future. Twitter collects it and Google gathers and delivers it.