Does this sound familiar? There is suddenly a site about which absolutely "everyone" you know is suddenly talking. Suddenly, you have just got to join that site - but of course you must have an invitation and they are hard to get. You are, though, being asked by all sorts of people you know... who keep telling you how great it is and how this new site will completely revolutionize the Internet and fundamentally alter the way in which we communicate. Once you give in and join you suddenly find yourself deluged in requests to be added as a "friend" by some people you know and then also by many others you have no clue who they are. It's the "new" Internet. It's the end of everything old and the start of everything new. It's the best invention since sliced bread. You just gotta see it!
What site am I talking about?
Hmmm... how about Orkut in 2004?
That was certainly the view in those days.... everyone was madly adding Orkut friends, filling out their Orkut profiles... wildly creating "communities" within Orkut and finding new communities to join. Just like today's Facebook Groups, you could learn a great amount about someone by the communities they joined. Private messages were flying back and forth and it was just the place to be, even if many were uncomfortable with the focus of the site on dating.
But then somewhere along the way a good number of folks, myself included, were off to chase the next bright, shiny thing and we stopped checking in to Orkut all that often. Spam increased within the site, the Brazilians took over ... and the rest is history. There are obviously still a lot of folks using the site, and occasionally I get a message in email that reminds me I need to go visit (usually to remove the "scraps" that spammers leave).
The pattern repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats....
After Orkut, the place to be was LinkedIn... Friendster... Xing... LiveJournal... MySpace... today's darling seems to be Facebook.
Over the past months "presence services" have seemed to be the rage. First it was Twitter... then there was a "great migration" over to Jaiku.... then some folks started thinking Facebook status updates were the best... meanwhile all the IM addicts were wondering how these new services were all that different from the IM "advisory" or "mood" messages people had been changing for some time. (And fundamentally they really aren't different, except that you can get them via RSS or on a web page and thus have a history.)
Now, today, some of the Twitter-addicted seem to be convinced that Pownce is the next bright, shiny thing and it will solve all the problems with Twitter and bring us to communication nirvana. Naturally, being a professional chaser of bright, shiny things, I had to sign up for Pownce. First impression is that it's a lot like Twitter with better replies and a way to have both public posts and also ones only visible to your friends. (Which, of course, I've had from a blogging point of view with my LiveJournal account since back in 2004.) Okay, and it has its own desktop software.
Of course, to use it means that I have to rebuild a list of "friends" similar to the lists I already have in all the aforementioned presence, IM and social networking services. I will, naturally, because there is something in my mental makeup that compels me to try out new services like this.
Meanwhile, of course, someone else is telling me that Hictu.com is really the place to be... if I'll just go there and sign up, the mist will be lifted from my eyes and everything will be amazingly clear. Hmmmmm.....