Social media turns into boring old media

Warren Ellis, always a shrewd observer of online media, supposes that we've reached peak social media, the point at which exciting new communications forms ossify into dull media titans:

Twitter alters its terms of access to its information, thereby harming the services that built themselves on that information. Which was stupid, because Twitter gets fewer and fewer material benefits from allowing people to use its water. And why would you build a service that relies on a private company’s assets anyway? Facebook changes its terms of access regularly. It’s broken its own Pages system and steadily grows more invasive and desperate. Instagram, now owned by Facebook, just went through its first major change in terms of service. Which went as badly as anyone who’s interacted with Facebook would expect. As Twitter disconnected itself from sharing services like IFTTT, so Instagram disconnected itself from Twitter. Flickr’s experiencing what will probably be a brief renaissance due to having finally built a decent iOS app, but its owners, Yahoo!, are expert in stealing defeat from the jaws of victory. Tumblr seems to me to be spiking in popularity, which coincides neatly with their hiring an advertising sales director away from Groupon, a company described by Techcrunch last year as basically loansharking by any other name.

This may be the end of the cycle that began with Friendster and Livejournal. Not the end of social media, by any means, obviously. But it feels like this is the point at where the current systems seize up for a bit. Perhaps not even in ways that most people will notice. But social media seems now to be clearly calcifying into Big Media, with Big Media problems like cable-style carriage disputes. Frame the Twitter-Instagram spat in terms of Virginmedia not being able to carry Sky Atlantic in the UK, say (I know there are many more US examples).

His closing remark is "I wonder if anyone’s been thinking twice about giving up their personal websites." Good question.

The Social Web: End Of The First Cycle


  1.  The title is nonsensical; social media hasn’t turned into “boring old media”, its founders have simply been bribed into attempting something evil to get them even more money than they’ve already got. And, as per usual, contra Gordon Gekko, greed isn’t good because it makes people stupid, in this case leading these social media moguls to forget that their users can use the social media itself to protest being screwed over, or to plan moving to a slightly less evil alternative. Simply being or attempting to be evil doesn’t make a corporation “old media”, as the likes of television networks and newspapers hardly had a monopoly on it.

  2. I’ve worked hard to create original content for my site(s) since 1998. It’s always been hard to attract traffic and the lazy facebook disease only made it harder, but I’ll keep it up. It’s about all I know how to do at this point.I just hope people somehow regain the strength to click that mouse away from aggregates and help support the “little guy”.

  3. In many ways this is an opportunity for some ISP or ISP service packager and reseller to build an app based service that lets people create their own websites and link to their friends. If they are interconnected by Facebook like “posting” and Twitter like “notifications”, and easy enough to use, this could be a growth area. Judging from existing ISP pricing, this service could start around $1/month, but that there are enough people growing weary of Facebook and Twitter to feel that it is worth a few dollars to have more control.

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