Monday, April 15, 2013

The past and other detritus, part 2: Makeoutclub

Remember Makeoutclub? I didn't until I saw an article "today" (actually, probably late 2011) that mentioned it in passing.

The first social networking site. I only vaguely remember it now, and I definitely did not have an account. Remember MySpace? Not too long ago (let's say six or seven years ago, which is the equivalent of six or seven decades ago in Internet time), MySpace was the place to be. I find myself a bit incredulous to say this, but I sort of miss MySpace. Well, not MySpace per se, but the fact that at the time MySpace was ascendant, Facebook was actually a place where not everyone and their mom (or their boss, or their neighbor) was on; it was a place just for college students. And then high school students. And then nonstudents. And then moms, bosses, and neighbors. Nowadays, anybody and everybody has a Facebook account. Notwithstanding the exclusivity associated with a site that catered to a particular group, the more prosaic issue is that now that everyone is on Facebook, you can't say anything you want without offending somebody. You can't post embarrassing pictures without your mom, or your boss, or your neighbor finding out. (Not that I ever did or would do any of these things, but allow me to indulge in the possibilities.)

Lately, I've come across articles on what teenagers think about Facebook: In short, not highly. Yesterday, it was Facebook; today, it's Instagram (which is owned by Facebook, luckily for them) and Snapchat (which I hadn't even heard of until recently -- and yet some think it's already passé). Just a few days ago, I learned of Vine, which recently has become the most downloaded video app on iTunes. Some think that Tumblr has surpassed Facebook as teens' most often used social network, perhaps because Tumblr "just seems more intimate and it[']s not really a place of bragging, but more of a place of sharing".

What will tomorrow bring? Will Facebook be around in six years? Probably. MySpace is still around, in a technical sense. Makeoutclub is still around too. Will people be using Facebook? That's a more germane question, and harder to answer. Some Internet companies, believe it or not, are still around six years later. Google, for instance. But Google has never explicitly focused on being cool; it's focused on making good products. Cool is a side effect. Facebook has never given me that feeling. But perhaps through sheer numbers -- over 1 billion users -- Facebook will stick around. As essential and as cool as email.

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