some thoughts on 2007 (advertising, bullying, and mobile)

I love the idea of “social network fatigue.” I can see the Prozac ad now:

Are you tired of your friends? Does reciprocity get you down? Do you dream of blockmodels? Are you afraid of the big bad structural holes? Don’t worry… we can help!

OK… i admit, that was far more for my own entertainment than for yours. But seriously, the concept of “social network fatigue” boggles my mind. I realize that the prediction is really “Users will tire of large-scale, portal-style social network sites like MySpace and Facebook in 2007” but the framing of it as “social network fatigue” reveals the inherent problem in this prediction. Users aren’t going to tire of their friends but they will tire of problematic social spaces that make hanging out with friends difficult.

Now, i’m not one to enjoy spouting predictions (notice discomfort in recent press interview) but i have to say that i agree with 80% of Fred Stutzman’s predictions. Social network sites as we know it are not the end-all-be-all. They will fade and other services will recognize the value in adding social features to their site. Social network structures will become as ubiquitous as search or profiles. They will be a given, either explicitly (“are you my friend?”) or implicitly (your phone contact list). That said, i think there are going to be some blood baths next year and i’m not looking forward to them.

For me, the question is: “are teenagers tiring of the highly-visible social network sites?” and the answer is both yes and no. The level of emotional enthusiasm i hear has dramatically faded over the last six months. It’s taken for granted that it’s the way to reach people, but folks have seen the pros and cons and are no longer slurping it up without thinking. The perceived presence of people who hold power over teens (parents, teachers, etc.) and those who want to prey on them (marketers, pedophiles, etc.) has done unbelievable damage in general teen perception. I’m astounded by how many teens i’m running into who are “scared” to go on MySpace because they’ve been told horror stories by everyone. It doesn’t matter that the stories they repeat back to me are inaccurate – it’s clear that mainstream news coverage had a huge role in shaping social network sites in 2006. I want to scream every time a teen tells me the story of the two alexes or about how Dateline “proved” that predators are going to stalk them. (Instead, i listen patiently and politely.)

More significantly, MySpace has turned into a massive zit full of marketing puss. Most teens don’t mind advertising but when things look more like spam than advertising, you’re in deep shit. Every PR organization and marketing arm is leeching onto MySpace like a blood thirsty vampire. Problem is that vampires kill their prey. Teens who wanna hang with friends are mostly protecting themselves by privatizing their profile (more cuz of the marketing predators than the sexual ones) but this quickly loses the luster, particularly when it’s fundamentally hard to do what you want to communicate with your friends. (Simple things like friend management and better messaging tools would go a long way.) I’m very worried about how, unregulated, spamming and over-advertising will kill even the coolest social hangouts. I keep wondering what the regulation solution will have to be. (Is it law or code cuz it ain’t gonna be market or social norms?)

I believe that teenagers are the reason that mobile will happen sooner than we think. I don’t believe that the first explosion will be US-based. I am very hopeful about Blyk because i think that they stand a very decent chance of getting cluster effects working. (Note: the anti-corporate voice in me screams in horror at the idea of a free mobile service built on ads but there’s no one i trust more in mobile than Marko Ahtisaari. I have much respect for the whole team and i think that a free phone will be extremely popular so long as they get a few things right.) I think that mobile social network-driven systems will look very different than web-based ones but the fundamentals of “friends” and “messages” and some form of presence-conveying “profile” will be core to the system.

What worries me most is that my gut says that 2007 will involve far too many hyper-visible examples of bad-teen-behavior. You think Nicole and Paris’ fight is public? Wait until every teen in America videotapes their cat-scratching, hair-pulling, nut-kicking, all-out brawls and uploads them to YouTube. Those who hold power over teens are primed to obsessively stalk their behaviors and i don’t think it’s gonna be pretty. Forget dirty laundry, we’re talking a full inversion of the house. (Personally, i can’t wait until kids start videotaping their parents’ fights or otherwise disrupting the power dynamics – that’s going to make things super messy. ::shudder::)

I think 2007 is going to be spent working through issues of public life and privacy mixed together complicated power dynamics between generations and between producers and consumers. We’re going to see legal battles, big corporate power plays (a.k.a. “bullying”), and media panic coverage meant to distract us from Iraq. We’re going to see a disgusting increase in consumer advertising that will aim to saturate everything possible. (This is what you get for getting “old media” and “old business” online finally.) Personally, when i turn up the futurism dial, i wanna hide under a rock in 2007. Of course, it shall be interesting and i won’t be able to resist peeking.

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32 thoughts on “some thoughts on 2007 (advertising, bullying, and mobile)

  1. Deirdre Straughan

    Re. teens uploading the ugly, a case came up in Italy a few months ago: cellphone footage of a classful of kids taunting and beating a classmate with Downs Syndrome surfaced on Google videos. It came to the attention of the Italian blogosphere, and then the Italian press. Eventually police investigators tracked down the school, and the four kids directly involved were suspended for the year (an extremely unusual step in Italy). The teacher who stood looking on was up for disciplinary action last I heard, and the principal was considering what to do with the rest of the class who looked on and laughed.

    Perhaps this kind of swift and severe response will help deter the worst.

  2. Fred

    Great post. 2007 is going to be the year of shocking transparency, though I do sort of think the “teens expose everything on SNS” news story is getting a little played out. Perhaps in 2007 the culture of SNS evolves to the point where young people develop obfuscation/hiding techniques so they can have their expression and also stay off the radar of adults. I tried to track (on Myspace) down a specific subgroup of teens outside my area after I followed a news story and found it incredibly difficult to do so…so people are already “hiding in public’.

    Like I’ve said…I think mobile is coming, esp with rich handsets+location awareness – but I think mass market in the US is a ways off. My data plan is still crazy expensive…w/o cheap data plans mobile social is a ways off.

    Looking forward to an interesting 2007 😉

  3. Graham

    “Sousveillance” is all the rage now, from the recent footage of Saddam being released/leaked (however you like to see it…), to what we call “happy slapping” here in the UK (or, at least, used to call – it hasn’t hit the news in a few months). The film of the student being tasered in the school library provides the third axis for this trend, I think.

    Surveillance is already capitalised on – police footage down to “reality TV”: the trend is to turn such footage into entertainment, and usually enterainment that involves laughing *at* people (no, no, it’s “making an example”, say the programme makers).

    To be cynical, I think this may go the same way that all user-generated content looks to be going: cash in on the above, combined with the desire for “users” to be famous. In that sense, I think you’re right when you talk about “hosue inversion”. But at the other end of the scale, expect to see more control over the content as a whole. Illegal and immoral content will be filtered out more than ever in 2007 as the various authorities adjust to the digital behemoth.

    Expect Big Brother branded phones (and I don’t mean the TV series).

  4. Joshua Porter

    The term “social network fatigue” is a great one…I wonder how this is modeled in face-to-face social groups.

    For example, meeting new people is always exciting…for a time. Then, you kind of get a feel for them, and you quickly tire of some more than others.

    Another factor is that people are getting used to having an indefinitely large availability of online friends (whether they are actual friends or not). This is something that quickly loses its initial value (although some people I know continue to pile on “friends” as if it were their job).

    There are several ways to go with this term (and that’s why I like it): do we tire of our social networks (people), or do we tire of software that fails to model the sophistication of our social lives? Or both?

  5. PJ

    “Social network sites as we know it are not the end-all-be-all. They will fade and other services will recognize the value in adding social features to their site. Social network structures will become as ubiquitous as search or profiles. They will be a given, either explicitly (“are you my friend?”) or implicitly (your phone contact list).”

    Small social networks aren’t as useful. I log into my school alumni network maybe twice a year–my friends from college are easier to reach by email, Myspace, or by phone. I’m too old for Facebook, but I use it to stay in touch with my cousins. I’ve tried Ryze, Xing, and many others, but only Myspace is universal enough to be useful.

    Really, we only have so much time. Myspace, email, IM/texting, blogging, and phone calls cover it for me. As much as we would all like to see Myspace replaced by something else, that’s about as likely as YPN replacing AdSense.

  6. J.D. Falk

    Welcome to the spam fight. Spam killed usenet…e-mail, open IM and IRC networks, chat rooms, and even domain names are barely holding on…blogs and social networks are clearly under attack.

    It’s going to get worse before it gets better…but newer systems could learn from the mistakes of the past. It often seems like you’re the only researcher who can remember that there even WAS an internet before 2001.

  7. Brian O' Hanlon

    I may have mentioned before, my admiration for a book by Henri Lefebvre called ‘The Production of Space’. He devotes an entire section of this book to the very subject of social space. I haven’t fully absorbed his philosophy and ideas as yet. Levebvre was involved in politics etc in France around the time of student revolutions in the 60s. Indeed he was no stranger at all to large gatherings and weight in numbers.

    The reason I found Lefebvre at all, was I have read similar discussion here in my little country of Ireland about policy for spatial development and inhabitation for the next century. A lot dealing with equality and freedom or curtailment of movement etc. A lot of things to do with spatial-ness of the physical environment become political issues, and are dealt with by debate at politcal level.

    I have noticed David Weinberger often speak and blog about politics and web applications. What I am interested in, is Tim Berners Lee’s and Lessig’s observation that commerce is the only player in the early web. That political discussion has yet to take place on web issues. That is why I feel Lefebvre is such an important reference, because he weaves together ideas about space, about politics and about people in his one philosophy book.

  8. zephoria

    JD – i agree with you and i don’t. I totally agree with you that spam has killed every major medium on the internet. I also agree that it’s killing blogs and that social network sites are at risk. But what i’m struggling with is the fact that most of the “spam” that teens are faced with would be deemed “legitimate” advertising by a third party. We’re not talking about pills to increase your penis size. We’re talking about mom and pop shops writing to people they think would be interested in their product. We’re talking about bands digitally flyering people to death. We’re talking about things that individually would be seen as ads (and even directed ads) but in aggregate feel like spam. Of course, we can call this spam because it’s uninvited, but so is the direct mail advertising that i get when i go to my mailbox. There are definitely scripters out there but there’s a lot of folks sitting down and writing to each and every MySpace user individually (eek!). When every local businessperson in the world can reach out to every consumer in the world with ease, the scale screws up everything. (Kinda like how our fear function gets off kilter when we hear about every murder/rape/kidnapping in the entire world on nightly news.)

    So i’m wondering… is this round of spam different than previous rounds? Perhaps i shouldn’t talk about it as spam… cuz it’s more that we’re seeing the consequences of the ease with which people can advertise.

    (I’m always trying to figure out what is historically grounded and what is “new.” 9/10 there’s nothing new but it’s crucial to ask yourself if there’s anything new there and to prove yourself wrong.)

  9. Joshua Porter

    JD – How can you be sure that it was SPAM that killed email and IM?

    I think they’re also evidence that social networks and/or text messaging killed SPAM for teenagers. Many MySpacers and Facebookers now simply message over their blogs/walls/etc there instead of emailing or IMing.

    It’s a lot easier to text someone or call them than it used to be…

    In other words, another reason for moving away from some of the technologies you mention are usefulness related…it’s simply easier or more contextual to message elsewhere.

    I’m not ready to blame it all on SPAM quite yet…although there is definitely a war going on.

  10. Steve

    The dirty little secret of the Internet is that *every* new Internet capability is subject to fatigue. I first noticed this when I realized after a year or two, that it wasn’t a lot of fun to be on usenet any more. Things in my offline life began to take precedence. I mean, at first this is all new, and in the first flush of enthusiasm we invest a lot of dicretionary time in it (and of course, teenagers have more discretionary time than almost anybody). But after a while, the new wears off and usenet or Youtube go back in the corner with the other discarded Christmas gifts and your Mom’s old Hula Hoop (TM). And all because the human bandwith (i.e. available time to communicate) is finite.

    (Of course, spam pretty much has made Usenet unusable by now anyway, but I suspect a lot of people scaled back their involvement well before that point)

    I think this principle is behind a lot of the Internet boom/bust business cycles. People invent business plans predicated on the initial flush of enthusiasm as though that would be there for the long term. Doesn’t happen. But thank you for playing and better luck next time. 🙂


    P.S. Although, to rethink slightly, for teenagers, everything is new, just because they themselves are new. So teen culture could possibly retain an interest in activities longer than any single group of invididuals, because teendom is NOT a group of individuals, it is a life stage that individuals enter and leave. So no one group of people may stay on MySpace for 30 years, but “teenagers” potentially might.

    Probably not though. Experiences of the past appear to show that what is “cool” or “in” for the current crop of teenagers can change dramatically in a few short years, and usually does.

    Just a thought.

  11. Mike McGrath

    “Social network structures will become as ubiquitous as search or profiles.”

    Yes, a standard set of services will evolve and expectations will be set.

    “Teens who wanna hang with friends are mostly protecting themselves by privatizing their profile (more cuz of the marketing predators than the sexual ones) but this quickly loses the luster, particularly when it’s fundamentally hard to do what you want to communicate with your friends.”

    At the teen stage, friends and social groups evolve rapidly. I’m not sure the megasocialsites like MySpace are equipped to handle the ever shifting personas of a teenager. Canter’s right in this regard. The future is about thousands of smaller networks.

  12. Brian O' Hanlon

    – – – Apologises for length, but there is a lot of useful background I had written on these matters you may find of interest – – –


    It isn’t just murders and violence people watch the news for these days. I heard Glenn Murcutt,
    the sustainable architect from Australia talk here in Dublin just before xmas.

    He described how people live in air conditioned homes, drive air conditioned cars and work
    in air conditioned buildings. They get up each morning and go through the whole process of
    moving between these spaces, and at the end of the day they sit down and turn on the TV set
    to find out what the weather was like! I mean, what is the point in that?

    As we speak I am looking using the web to find out what is on TV tonight. Nicholas Negroponte was
    correct when he said the TV is the dumbest piece of technology you are likely to find in the whole
    house – even the microwave oven puts it to shame. What John Battelle has also talked of lately,
    in his book on Search is the combination of search, TV and purchasing/advertising.

    It seems to me like a lot of technologies are combining together in strange ways – where no one
    technological devices offers the whole package. That was a feature of platforms in the old days.
    Like the personal computer, was always trying to give you everything out of the box – but didn’t.

    I think the kids nowadays, don’t want a solution in a box – like us old folks expect. The solution
    in a box is a commodity made in Asia these days anyhow. The imported stuff is very good, yet very
    cheap. If you want to gain an edge, you end up weaving these cheap devices together in some new way.
    Professor Iansiti raises some good points on this in his Keystone Advantage article in the HBR.

    The products must be a part of a greater ecosystem. I guess it goes back to Kevin Kelly’s point too, that machine things are becoming more biological. PARC Labs were thinking about this a lot when Gershenfeld, Negroponte and Kelly were doing some
    of their best writing.
    At Sun too of course, James Gosling’s vision of Java he got when watching the lights at a rock concert. I have posted a short history on java below, which I think is well worth reading in the context of the present discussion.

    I mean, when you consider what they wanted in a network: reliability. Yeah, reliability, but also
    the ability to spam and advertise to everyone any time, any place.

    I have considered these ideas, of jadgets talking to each other, and extended my concepts even a little bit further in the post below, about how long the platform lasts. In a way, I believe that each generation of human beings create their own vision of computing which fits their times and their culture.
    Each one is unique to each generation – archaeologists like Christine Finn in the UK, have used this notion to get across ideas about archaeology to young kids in schools.

    Because the kids develop a very keen awareness to the subtle changes in technology and platforms as time goes by. Some of these changes can happen in a matter of months, in contrast to archaeology where you are talking in terms of centuries and millenia.

    Indeed, one could argue, that kids nowadays learn about the concept of time, by observations of technology. I often wonder what it was like for my parents growing up seeing the first automobiles and TVs etc.

    Uplinking with an Alien Computer

    How could David’s laptop interface with an alien computer? As near as I can tell, they used that dildo shaped antenna they plugged onto the bottom of the craft to transmit to a satillite that the aliens were using and piggyback on their own signal back into it’s source on the mothership.

    The key insights into the software that would run such devices came to Gosling at a Doobie Brothers concert at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California. As he sat slouched in front-row seats letting the music wash over him, Gosling looked up at wiring and speakers and semirobotic lights that seemed to dance to the music. “I kept seeing imaginary packets flowing down the wires making everything happen,” he recalls. “I’d been thinking a lot about making behavior flow through networks in a fairly narrow way. During the concert, I broke through on a pile of technical issues. I got a deep feeling about how far this could all go: weaving networks and computers into even fine details of everyday life.”

    Gosling quickly concluded that existing languages weren’t up to the job. C++ had become a near-standard for programmers building specialized applications where speed is everything – computer-aided design for instance, where success is measured by the number of polygons generated per second. But C++ wasn’t reliable enough for what Gosling had in mind. It was fast, but its interfaces were inconsistent, and programs kept on breaking. However, in consumer electronics, reliability is more important than speed. Software interfaces had to be as dependable as a two-pronged plug fitting into an electrical wall socket. “I came to the conclusion that I needed a new programming language,” Gosling says.

    Which when translated into reality,… this grew to become a very robust industrial strength distributed and object oriented computer language…. At demos, Naughton (a young member on the Green project) would go to the white board to show the scope of Oak, (early 1990s implementation of Java technology) filling the blankness with lines crisscrossing from home computers, to cars, to TVs, to phones, to banks, to – well, to everything. Oak was to be the mother tongue of the network of all digital things.

    Initially, Sun tried to market this Oak Technology for TV, set top boxes, but it never took off,… But then,… along came the Internet and it was because of Bill Joy’s input, (a veteran of the older Unix environment) that Sun finally saw that the Internet could become Oak’s redemption. Joy’s support was critical in what became known as the Internet Play, the “profitless” approach to building market share – a ploy Netscape had made famous by giving away its browser. “There was a point at which I said, ‘Just screw it, let’s give it away. Let’s create a franchise,”’ Joy says.

    How long does a Platform really last?

    Do you just count the day a company stops making the part or developing the software? Is it much more than that? Is there something about a platform, that is very important but still left undocumented. A kind of dark and gloomy place, where few people wish to explore?

    Is there a hidden ‘subconscious’ in computing? Does computing await it’s own Sigmund Freud? Even though a platform dies, for how long does it linger in the minds of people? Does a memory get passed down through generations via person-to-person contact? When reading the Cuckoo’s Egg, by Cliff Stoll I read of a quirky thing that European Unix users do in typing code, which west coast hackers would never do. This alerted Cliff straight away to the probability of the hacker being from Europe.

    I was reading an older thread about security here at Aceshardware. I was listening with interest to posters mention people who came from win9x backgrounds not being used to the mindset of security. As distinct from people who have a Linux, a Unix background or even a mainframe background where security is not taken for granted. I have read some articles in the past year written on a Linux magazine by someone who learned in the DOS environment and later discovered what BASH scripting could do in Linux.

    One person I read about at Pixar, said the final straw came when Pixar discussed a change from IRIX to Windows NT. It was just too much like a step backwards. The BSOD was more than he could handle. That person went on to found his own business and do his own thing. Many hackers who were involved in the ITS operating system project, used it for a long time after DEC had discontinued making the computers it ran on. Some users managed to convert onto Unix, and many of those people may have later changed to Linux.

    I myself come from the Apple background. Or rather, when I was getting into computing for the first time, a lot of the guys I talked to and worked with had been using Apple stuff for years. I mean, when i started using computers in 1998/9 I wanted to do everything all at once, on the same computer. I expected the computer to do everything and anything. That is the indoctrination of the Apple ideal – where the personal computer can do everything. Even though I have not touched an Apple system for a couple of years, I still think in that way. I carry within me the legacy of another platform, when I work with windows each day.

    I wanted to get into digital video, and photo manipulation and music composition. I automatically felt as if that were possible. It is the kind of attitude that can serve you well if you work in an Apple environment. But it is not the kind of attitude that serves you best, if you work with Windows. Windows based workplaces and people have a different outlook, which is not familiar to people who grew up using Apple stuff. Windows people love marking out boundaries to your computing experience, areas where you are not supposed to venture. Apple people tend to hate boundaries and generally ignore them as much as possible.

    Many people have spoken about how easy it was on the Amiga platform. File formats were very clear and easy to understand. Software appeared to do what you expected it to do. It somehow managed to make sense. You could grow and learn within the Amiga environment. Many gamers speak about Atari and Commodore having wasted their opportunity to be a part of personal computing. I discovered that DOOM was ported onto many different devices and consoles, besides the PC itself. If you go back far enough, the Apple computer was the gaming platform of choice.

    Recently, I had a discussion about the demise of PC gaming. People clearly pointed out the benefits of communal gaming experience with consoles. The mobile phone, another contemporary technology shares the same idea of communal interaction of the game console. The PC is generally a private way to game and communicate. In spite of all the publicity and hype about ‘LAN Parties’. And hardware vendors attempts to modify the design of cases, fans, motherboards and what not, to appeal to the Lan party go-er’s taste.

    How far Microsoft have come from selling Windows Mellenium Edition! I mean, the world of computing and media is changing quite fast these days. High-definition digital video and LCD TVs are being promoted by Dell. It is all about large TV screens with Windows XP media edition accessible from a remote control. For an extra few euro, a Dell technician will arrive at your house, hook it all together and give you a tutorial. Dell understand the vunerability of the PC being too private. They are trying to bring it into your living room, and hopefully stop Playstation or XBOX from ‘owning’ that space outright.

    While Scott McNealy talks about the thin client, the Sun Ray per day and how much better the desktop could be if we moved onto the network and paid for our computing needs by subscription. All our devices could talk to each other, and your data would be safe and secure, like putting your money in a bank, rather than locking it in a safe in your home.

    I went to the horse races yesterday and the bookmakers had digital monitors instead of chalk boards. That really drives it home for me I think. Beside the bookmakers a 10 foot square flat panel screen showed close ups of the horses as they galloped. We are living in very strange hybrids of real and virtual nowadays, and people have to manage somewhere in between all the changes and shocks.

  13. Brian O' Hanlon

    BTW, the java piece above is about the scene in Independence day where Jeff Goldblum could interface with the alien ship.

    I guess Danah Boyle could fill in the huge gaps in my research – my observations and writing has been to do with hardware rather than software or applications that run on the web platform.

    The reason, I posted the above, is because I think that Danah should write a paper at some stage based around my template.

    A perspective, which takes in a much wider view of computing and platforms.

    Anything Christine Finn has published a book or two I think, or she was working on one, last time I heard.

  14. Fernando Ardenghi

    My bet is:

    * Age segmentation will trigger the “fun” social_networking market to merge with the fun_online_dating market, mainly for 13-25 years old persons (teenagers). Many sites are only cheap channels for deliver ads, i.e. infomercial-advertainment companies on the web!

    * the “quality” social_networking market will overlap with the quality_online_dating market: mainly for 26-and more years old persons. Clients will pay for quality contacts (compatible real persons) and to avoid being hurt in their feelings by other persons. They know the difference between real friends from casual acquaintances.

    * business_networking will peak and decay.

    Fernando Ardenghi.
    Buenos Aires.

  15. George Black

    Very interesting to read you post on social network fatigue, we are a UK startup who have been trying to address this with a new site called phuser we are Beta launching in a couple of weeks.

    phuser works around clean, easy communication with the people you actually know using private shared spaces called phuses. You can have as many phuses as you want with as many separate groups as you have in real life. You control your network and your privacy. It also integrates SMS and is spam and ad free. If you would like to have a look around the test site I would be delighted to invite you in as it is highly restricted at the moment.

  16. Brian O' Hanlon

    I re-read the discussion here this morning. Joshua Porter has summarised it quite well I reckon. We are too quick to blame it exclusively on spam. There are other factors involved. There were shifts in computing and technology long before the web became an application that people spent a great deal of their time on.

    Lets just remember that. I mean, think of the days when games were sold on floppy disks in zip lock bags. If you read Martin Campbell Kelly’s chapter on the gaming industry in America, it all collasped in one really bad recession circa 1983 if memory serves me correct. Then the Japanesse had the playing field all to themselves and Ninetendo brought in strict regulations over the quality and standardisation of software games sold for their platform. Back in the old floppy disk days, when Apple, Atari etc were standards in gaming, they failed to impose this quality control – and every week a whole new batch of low quality imitation games arrived out on the shelves in floppies.

    I was thinking about this a lot yesterday and today. I know of a book by Daniel Goleman called the New Leader, and a chapter where he discusses the repetoire of leadership style. It is interesting to note, how Goleman says most people only know one kind of leadership style. They spend most of their lives looking for suitable situations in which to apply this style. While the great leaders all managed to combine multiple styles of leadership.

    It is similar in advertising I guess. Anyhow, it is worth looking at that chapter by Daniel Goleman to understand the subtle way in which combinations are better, than banging away at the same drum all the time.

  17. Brian O' Hanlon

    BTW, that chapter on the collapse of the American gaming industry is in Kelly’s book, From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog.

  18. Brian O' Hanlon

    BTW, that chapter on the collapse of the American gaming industry is in Kelly’s book, From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog.

  19. Brian O' Hanlon

    So I guess social network fatigue, is no more original than the idea of floppy disk fatigue from the early 1980s American gaming industry.

    This is why I think it is crucial that Danah would search through the history of computing, for references outside the application that is the web altogether.

    Just because a phenomena was observed on a mini-computer, or a vacuum tube behemoth in the 1940s, doesn’t necessarily make it different from whats going on now.

  20. Brian O' Hanlon

    My friend showed me Dylan Moran’s stand up comedy DVD last night. Make sure you check it out some time. This is a description I got from wikipedia:

    A live DVD of the Monster II tour, filmed May 28th at Dublin’s Vicar Street, is on general release. This is Moran’s first live stand-up DVD.

    But, when you talk about kids ‘power’ over their parents and messiness – I think you might enjoy checking out Dylan Moran’s description of the parent – kids relation dynamic. Moran talks about the kids control over the light switch – but what he says, could be expanded onto camcorders and you tube for sure.

    Regards all,


  21. Brian O' Hanlon

    An obvious reference for my writing above is,

    David B. Brownlee
    David G. De Long

    co-authored a book about the architect Louis Kahn,
    published by Thames and Hudson.

    The ideas I got for exploring hardware and its history in computing, derive a lot from Brownlee and De Long’s discussion in that book, about Kahn.

    Kahn would try to understand what a school started out as – a space underneath a tree in a village, where all the young kids would collect to listen to an older knowledgeable person speak. It was only later, that things become more forumalised and regulated in a schooling system per se.

    As in the discussion of Alvin Toffler, about the ‘industrialisation’ of schooling system.

    Kahn felt it was important for the architect to understand the early essence, the origins of building spaces – if the modern interpretation was to be of any success.

    For instance, with kids, you tube and parents fighting – you have to go back to the origins – like the light switch, where there were only two bits! The light is either on or off, and see how kids manipulated that to their advantage, and controlled the environment in which adults were trying to occupy.

    This is what I mean about the adobe acrobat platform too – sure it Professor Iansiti dealt with the ecological network effects employed by MBAs at adobe to create the franchise as it were.

    It is a way of looking at business, similar to the ideas in Mark Buchanan’s book, on Small Worlds and the ground breaking theory of networks.

    PDF has been a fantastic success as a business strategy – a role model even.

    But the ‘translation’ from physical book to digital book isn’t wonderful imo. The origin of the PDF was the book. But the PDF embodies very little of the original essence of that older platform I feel.

    Ted Nelson talks about this, in the copy and paste translation of software engineers, which was a very poor imitation of what he remembers while working for a newspaper in NYC.

    Negroponte discusses technology in a similar way in his book ‘Being Digital’. About the former lives of tools we find in the digital environment – and how sucessfully or poorly in some cases, their translation has been.

    I would greatly anticipate Danah Boyd writing something along those lines. Where we see examples in her writing of other progressions in technology, to allow us to get a handle on the same notion of progression in web applications.

    Or this sense of history, the layers of archaeology that Christine Finn has explored in her work. Where she talks about the compression of time, into momentary flickers which appear for a second and then seem to disappear again, almost as if they never existed.

    That is the nature of digital platforms sometimes – they don’t have a life inherent in themselves – but they only live afterwards as ghostly shadows and flickers on the cave walls, as echos in later code.

    “If changes in one small area are too quickly communicated across a system as a whole, they would tend to be dampened out. New and dissenting ideas need time to accumulate evidence and argument.”

    Ilya Prigogine, winner of a nobel prize for chemistry.

    Boyd has mentioned this before no doubt, as in hacking on live servers – patching code until 4 in the morning – the Ruby, PHP phenomenon of SNS.

    We have to find another way to respond to the coming and passing of various platforms. To deal with this ‘loss’ of platforms.

    I think that my piece about, about ‘How long does a platform really last’, offers at least a small philosophical route forward in our thinking about it. The notion that even though a company dies, or a product is no more, a part of it still stays alive – somewhat like Dawkins and Susan Blackmore’s idea of the meme.

    But we have to get past this notion of the god given right of American software companies to exist and last for ever. When history proves that not to be the case. We have to find a different way to deal with their passing – rather than the usual ‘black and white’ way we deal with the issue. The company is either alive or dead.

    I guess the network and ecological analogies do help there also, and give us another route to develop our thinking. We can no longer see this huge brand names purely in isolation, but to be alive they have to form a large organism with only creatures and environments.

  22. Brian O' Hanlon

    I guess the most obvious one of all to web applications comes when you read Alan Deutschman’s, The Second Coming of Steve Jobs.

    And compare the ‘loss’ of that platform of the Next box, with the creation of a new platform – the web itself, remembered by Tim Berners Lee, in his book, Weaving the Web.

    Love what you burn, burn what you love.

    You will also find evidence of the birth of the PC gaming industry, in Masters of Doom by David Kushner.

    Where the young John Carmack spends a winter in a northern state using his black next cube, while the ground outside was white with snow.

  23. Sam Jackson

    If Helio had a little more savvy, (ok, maybe a lot) and worked harder to push all the merits of smarter phones and sold more than just their hip MySpace models, and the SNS sites developed better mobile platforms, it would be a no-brainer; kids with money to burn would pour enormous amounts of cash in. I was talking with someone who had a Sidekick and was jealous of my Q, and yet I was shocked to hear just how much he paid for his basic features when my phone did so much more. The technology and the networks exist (infrastructure wise for the data, not so much for the software) but it would not be very hard -at all- to set it up. I’m still shocked it hasn’t happened yet.

  24. Brian O' Hanlon

    Some other useful references to support my ‘How long does the platform last’, piece up above. Clay Shirky had linked this interesting comparison between the MIT and the Berkeley philosophy. It contains an account of a conversation between an ITS and a Berkeley Unix programmer. Nicholas Carr linked this blog rant about web 2.0, and a print journalist using a legal pad to write. When I think about it, Nick Carr’s blog site is an extremely rich treasure trove of discussion about old and new world technologies. How they are meeting together at one period in history, commentators have chosen to label ‘web 2.0’.

  25. pipa

    Something from the European rumor mill: Nintendo is going to set a conversion rate of 4:1 for Star points to Wii points according to German mag:
    go now

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