My impression is that I’m not the only person to have found that Web 2.0 is proving less interesting these days than it was five or six years ago. I don’t think this is simply because for my social (networking) circle the novelty has worn off. It has more to do with the fact that the web is less chaotic than it was and corporations have learnt how to better use and control social networking. Friendster fell out of favour because it kicked out fakesters (those that refused to use their ‘real’ identities) and it was continually crashing due to lack of server capacity. MySpace allowed people to adopt any online identity they felt like taking – so it appealed to the fakesters, among others. One of the things I liked about MySpace was its willingness to jump on any and every online fad going, which made it more of a culture clash than most other parts of the web – and I particularly dug the blogging features. I’ve detailed my use of MySpace in an article on the main part of this website – http://www.stewarthomesociety.org/praxis/myspace.htm.
MySpace had lots of faults but it was fun for a while. The platform being bought out by Murdoch’s News Corp (via the Fox subsidiary) led to MySpace suffering a slow death, since its old media purchasers had no understanding of what they’d acquired. That didn’t stop the fools at News Corp from messing around with their new toy. Facebook took up the slack, after initially appealing to over-privileged college kids and other conservatives who couldn’t stand the anarchic nature of MySpace; and partly because one of the central features (alongside photo sharing when that was introduced) was the status update – which required less effort than writing a blog. Twitter took the status update and transformed it into pretty much the only feature on its site. Facebook quickly became a place to do little more than post links when the company made attempts to claim ownership of any original content distributed directly from its severs. No one in their right mind would want to give FB CEO Mark Zuckerberg anything too interesting to claim as his ‘copyright’. Facebook’s current revamp looks a lot like a tail-ending of the failed MySpace. Facebook is now being promoted as a place for sharing media. Zuckerberg’s site for college squares and their post-degree clones has always been uptight and preppy, but in recent months the boredom factor there has definitely increased.
I know I’m not the only person in my social networking circles to try out other sites in recent years. I’ve found the take up at Identi.Ca too low for it to work very well for me – although I’m still posting: http://identi.ca/stewarthome. VK might have turned out better for me if there hadn’t already been a number of Stewart Home fakester sites on their servers prior to my arriving there: many users assumed that I couldn’t possibly be running my own profile on ‘their’ site (a corporate Facebook clone but with more than a few toes dipped into the darkweb). VK is most popular in Russia and since my books sold very well in Russian translation, I’m well known there. So I’m plodding on with VK too: http://vk.com/id121464913. I’ve been working with Diaspora alpha but initially went to a pod that didn’t suit me. I’ve just switched to another pod that seems much better: https://diasp.org/people/36032. Fingers crossed that Diaspora takes off once it goes fully public, the potential for something really good is definitely there. I’m at many other places – including of course Google+ – but to take just one example, I can’t even remember the last time I logged in to my LastFM account: http://www.last.fm/music/Stewart+Home. I have managed to post new material at YouTube quite recently (a public reading from one of my books which I give standing on my head): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z70hEvWbaWg. I hope to update my Vimeo profile at some point in the future: http://vimeo.com/stewarthome. The same goes for my site on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stewarthome/.
Instead of waiting for a social networking platform that I find viable to either appear or reach its potential, I figured I’d return to blogging here – albeit on a more sporadic basis than in the past. This is in part because I’ve found the current Guardian newspaper series on “How to build a profitable blog” by Andrea Wren completely vile. Rather than opening up the possibilities of blogging, Wren’s series is all about closing them down and reducing web 2.0 to a narrow focus. Viz, her desire to turn ‘creativity’ into money. Wren and her mentor Craig McGinty may or may not make a fortune from their blogs, with some added help from the Guardian series that is boosting them – but most of their foolish followers won’t get a pot to piss in from setting up online sites. It is only by moving away from an obsession with monetisation and hits that blogging can become in any way exciting. Search engine optimisation is so last decade, and I’m still of the opinion that content counts, alongside the quality of interaction between a site and its visitors. I’ve never focused on a single subject to the exclusion of all others either here or when I blogged on MySpace. Unvarying subject matter may or may not deliver a target audience to advertisers, but it is also the road to unadulterated tedium.
Finally – and just in case you’re interested – the revolution in plumbing (and many other areas of design and engineering) is allegedly coming to us all very soon via 3D printing rather than web 2.0. And in recent days as I went through a slew of old social networking sites I’d joined, I found that some had wiped my profiles, but many others remained just as I’d left them when I’d last logged in two or more years ago. That said, the entire Twine platform had disappeared and when I typed their url into my browser I was redirected to the Evri site (who I understand have both bought out Twine and wiped my account from the site they’ve merged into their own). Meanwhile, I was excited to discover my Tumbler profile could be be updated from my new Diaspora account. Other places I’ll start updating again – mostly with links to here – include Stumble Upon, Digg and Delicious (the latter two had both ‘lost’ my old profiles but I set up new ones). As for my WordPress site blog, Live Journal, Blog Spot and Bebo profiles (among many others), I’m curious to see how long they’ll stay up if I never log in again, let alone update them…..
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!