With Social Networks, it takes a village
Tuesday, February 9th, 2010
Social networks can make your life easier. In the past, you had to individually email each of your friends, or perhaps print out 30 pictures to mail to them all. Now, one update and everyone know's what's important to you right now. Social networks can also make your life harder. Who wants to join and update the 35 trillion networks there are today?
So why do you use the networks you do? Likely, because there's a village. Facebook may not be the best possible social network, but with over 400 million members, likely almost everyone you know is already on it. Facebook must have been very quiet when it started, but now it's buzzing with activity from people you know.
Switching social networks is almost just a click away, but why switch if you get no value from the new service? If no one's there, then you'd be simply talking to yourself. Google Wave has this problem; it's only a quasi-network, but still has little to no value if no one you know uses it.
Email doesn't have this problem, and that's why Gmail could grow from no users before 2004 to being the 3rd most popular email service today. But email is decentralized; you can still email all of your old contacts from your new address. The only problem is getting people to switch their address books to your new email address.
Today Google unveiled their new network - Google Buzz. It's built into Gmail, so it brings all of Gmail's users into Buzz automatically. So will Buzz automatically have a 37 million-member village, or will it still be starting from ground zero?
After all, to be successful, a network takes a village. No one wants to be talking to themselves.