Danah Boyd has some points to chew on during a lazy weekend: Will people tire of social networking sites?
“(…)seriously, the concept of “social network fatigue” boggles my mind. I realize that the prediction is really “Users will tire of large-scale, portal-style social network sites like MySpace and Facebook in 2007” but the framing of it as “social network fatigue” reveals the inherent problem in this prediction. Users aren’t going to tire of their friends but they will tire of problematic social spaces that make hanging out with friends difficult.
Danah proposes that social networking sites as we know last, due to commercial overkill, spamming and privacy issues, and that the ecological niche of those sites will be filled by mobile services instead. Not sure if the transition to mobile will solve the issues, but it sure is the next logical step, and it also just feels right. (Although I’d guess the development depends a lot on the pricing of mobile providers: At least in Germany, data plans still aren’t as cheap as you’d need for real mainstream.)
The whole issue of privacy, and of controlling your privacy, should definitively be on top of our minds during this next year: If we don’t find a way for all users to feel comfortable with their level of open-ness and transparency, i.e. if users get contacted by people they don’t want to be contacted by; if they can’t decide who sees their online status and who doesn’t; if social networking sites/services don’t offer protection for your contact details from being harvested for spam and aggressive ads: then those sites will just go down and out. Hopefully we’ll see the next generation of social networking sites/services that care for this kind of demand.