Colin Walker

on social media, tech, blogging and the internet.

Has the echo chamber had its day?

Echo chamberThere are many factors related to the issue of social media going mainstream but maybe we aren’t looking in the right place for answers.

Any new social service is being populated by the same early adopters – it is the usual suspects friending each other in multiple locations across the web (I’m just as guilty as the next guy) – the echo chamber walls are being reinforced. Are the tech elite entrenching themselves ever deeper in a social media ‘hole’? As Frederic says, the gap between the early adopter and the mainstream user appears to be growing.

Does this mean that the echo chamber is becoming irrelevant; the same people having the same conversations just in different places?

Ideas

If this is the case how then can we avoid making the same mistakes and rehashing the same old stuff again and again? The important ideas come not just from individuals but from those individuals asking the right questions. Can the same few evolve their ideas faster than the technology they create so that the direction it takes is controlled rather than have us as users have our direction dictated to us by the technology? Perhaps, the ideas are already there but technology and society will have to catch up with them.

Perhaps we should be asking if social media should indeed go mainstream, does everyone need it? Will it, as I mentioned before, create a need where one doesn’t currently exist and force everyone to jump on the bandwagon even though they had no reason to do so.

At what point does the user get to determine the way forward rather than dictate the success or failure of a service just by voting with their feet? Is the echo chamber necessarily the best place for these decisions or is the depth of opinion too limited?

Your thoughts?

Are the masses safe in the hands of the few or is it unrealistic to assume that the best decisons will be made by the elite?

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Image by Hugh Macleod.

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May 6, 2008 - Posted by | Social Media |

7 Comments »

  1. Nothing wrong in the early days of an app for a devoted set of fans to enthuse over it and make suggestions for improving it. I’m thinking of FriendFeed, which to my knowledge, no one has claimed mainstream status.

    Slowly, but surely, the early fans attract others to the app, if it has value.

    But if something has been out for years and still hasn’t gotten more mainstream, then you’re seeing a lack of general population interest.

    Too early to sweat social media and mainstream. The only ones that REALLY care about that are those who need to consult with companies. Companies want to know when something has reached the tipping point. They’ll budget and plan accordingly. Twitter and Facebook fall into this category of wondering about mainstream or not. Most other social media are doing just find with their enthusiastic fans at this point.

    Last blog post..Ten FriendFeed Visitors Beats 1,000 StumbleUpons Any Day

    Comment by bhc3 | May 6, 2008 | Reply

  2. I think there’s definitely going to be a developing split between niche social media and mainstream options. Something like Sphinn is a good example of this, where it’s not even looking to extend beyond social networking early adopters as an audience.

    The more mainstream a site gets I think the less attractive its going to be to early adopters. So I think we may also see a greater move towards social media that you can effectively target. Twitter is this kind of service – regardless of the overall usage it’s still easy to remain focused on people talking about the kind of things you’re interested in.

    Digg is the best example of a site that’s lost attractiveness to early adopters as it becomes more mainstream. It gets criticised for having too much “fluff” in terms of celeb gossip or YouTube videos, but that’s exactly what you’d expect from a more mainstream site being used more often for fun than just functionality.

    Last blog post..Three Great Twitter Sites

    Comment by Robin Cannon | May 7, 2008 | Reply

  3. Apple and the iPod created a need that didn’t exist beforehand – it went massively mainstream, as we all know. Simple and powerful technology. Maybe social media could learn a lesson. And Apple has always been a step apart from the rest of the technology world.

    Last blog post..Welcome to Twitter Club!

    Comment by Mark Dykeman | May 7, 2008 | Reply

  4. I wouldn’t say it’s becoming irrelevant. I think that early adopters are moving at a more rapid pace than mainstream. Mainstream seems to be getting slower and slower with catching on to new services imo. At the same time, they aren’t nearly as consumed with these things as early adopters are, which I think has a tremendous impact.

    Last blog post..Grand Effect: New Members To The Family

    Comment by Corvida | May 7, 2008 | Reply

  5. Thanks for your thoughts.

    Hutch, I don’t disagree about devoted fans enthusing about a service but the problem may be that the early adopters are moving on too quickly for any service to actually achieve a tipping point.

    Robin, good point about services evolving and perhaps doing so at the expense of their early users. May be worth exploring at a later date.

    Mark, was going to use this example myself. With the iPod, however, it wasn’t so much Apple creating a need (the need was always going to be there with the increase in digital entertainment) but it was more a case of them creating a ‘desire’ which then translated into them cornering the market.

    Corvida, if early adopters are moving faster then are they not further separating themselves from the mainstream and thus making themselves irrelevant to the general population by virtue in the gulf that appears?

    Comment by Colin | May 7, 2008 | Reply

  6. […] development is our cool little local bar. We like to hang out at Sphinn, or on FriendFeed. It means we hang out with the same friends talking about the same things. That’s our hangout, not Myspace or Facebook, they’re like that busy and unpleasant […]

    Pingback by Digg Was My Local Bar, Then They Ruined It | Fog of Eternity | Website design and discussion | May 7, 2008 | Reply

  7. […] “On FriendFeed, We’re All TV Channels.” Colin Walker is hovering his finger over different possibilities and trying to pinpoint exactly what all this means. Steven Hodson thinks bloggers […]

    Pingback by notes, thoughts, ideas and responses » The FriendFeed Sponge | May 20, 2008 | Reply


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