Mike Masnick from Techdirt has an interesting post today about social networking sites generally, and Facebook specifically. He talks about the pattern a lot of these sites follow, with surging growth, a pleateau, a dawning realization among users that it’s really not that fun anymore, and then demise. The question, of course, is whether Facebook will follow this pattern, or whether they will evolve and advance to maintain relevance.
Facebook’s disastrous Beacon offering would certainly seem set to accelerate their demise. But Facebook has also become so ubuiquitous that it has the capability to shift from being an exciting, standalone product to a fundamental connectivity tool. Take, for example, the situation Brad W at The Lamppost talks about when he attended the funeral of a neighbourhood friend, and overheard two other people there discussing whether or not it’s appropriate to use Facebook to notify others of someone’s passing. They aren’t discussing who’s on Facebook, or what Facebook can do; it’s just assumed that it’s part of everyone’s internet toolkit, like IM and email.
Personally, I’ve been backing off my Facebook use lately, in almost exactly the trajectory that Mike described: the excitement of signing up, the flurry of postings which gradually settles into the occasional update, and now virutally no activity. In part it’s because I’m leery of what Facebook may do to my privacy, but I’m also just bored of it. I don’t really see what it does for me anymore.