Social notworking

Sun, 18 Sep 2011 21:36:00 +0000

After a bit over a month using Google Plus (with admittedly decreasing enthusiasm over the course of that time) I have no firm conclusions about what it’s good for, except that it’s incredibly good at reminding me how much I miss Usenet.

I could compare it with the other networks that people consider it “competition” for: it doesn’t replace Facebook – for me anyway - because the whole world isn’t on it, and that means I can’t use it to stay in touch with friends and family. It doesn’t replace Twitter as the the lack of a message length limit means it’s useless for epigrams (which I like) and not much cop for status updates either (which I can live without) – though it does work as “source of interesting links” which in my opinion is the third arm of Twitter utility. And Google will, probably, be disappointed to learn that it doesn’t replace LinkedIn because despite the best efforts of the Real Names policy enforcers, it still isn’t quite boring enough. Yet, anyway.

But that’s enough about Google+, what about Usenet?

The reasons it’s dead are well-rehearsed, and boil down to this: it couldn’t cope with universal access. It was built back in the days when people had access through their institutions or employers, and for the most part knew they could lose it by acting like jerks - or at least by acting like jerks consistently enough and outrageously enough. Come the personal internet revolution – the Endless September - it had no protection against or meaningful sanctions for spammers and trolls, and so blogs/web forums sucked away most of the people who wanted to just talk, leaving behind people who were by and large too much concerned with the minutiae of meta and much less enthused about the actual posting of content.

But it did do stuff that nobody else has replicated since.

Other people: