Tuesday, July 25, 2006

History of Social Networking Sites and History of Operating Systems - An Analogy

Desktop OS history, starting point: many different systems, all distinct, not interoperable, none particularly standing out as the One and Only.

Social Networking History analogy: blogging goes mainstream. Blogspot, TypePad, Livejournal, all with their own style, none particularly dominant.

Desktop OS history: somehow a technically loathsome OS becomes not just the dominant player, but soon transforms itself into the only game in town even as people who think an OS shouldn't, you know, absolutely suck try to wrap their heads around the fact of its dominance. Microsoft Windows entrenches itself as a monopoly.

Social Networking History analogy: Myspace. Enough said.

I would have to say that , to carry the OS analogy, Vox currently reminds me a lot of OS X. It's designed for ease of use and has a technical superiority that Myspace lacks. I hope it doesn't close itself off the way Apple tends to do with its software and hardware.

What I think Social Networking actually needs is a kind of Open Source movement. There needs to be some sort of development of an alternative to the closed alternatives like Myspace - an alternative which allows different Social Networking hubs' users to interact with one another, or even change hubs if they like. Unfortunately, the current social networking companies' approach looks to me like they're working on the assumption that users need to be put in a kind of proprietary lockdown, getting their social fix from their company's site and their company's site alone. I hope that way of thinking changes, or Myspace looks poised to become the Microsoft of the social networking world.

On the other hand, if that means Myspace's new owner, News Limited, becomes as hated in future as Microsoft is hated today, I might actually go in for that - no fan of Rupert Murdoch, me. But the cost would probably be too great.

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