I suppose that I am a dedicated follower of fashion. But with a lag!
My daughters started with Bebo. Then they migrated to MySpace. I watched this with curiosity but without any action. Then they moved to Facebook.
In this case, I actually joined Facebook to have a look but with no intention of doing anything. Within five minutes I received an invitation from eldest daughter to become friends. Now which father could resist this? Then youngest did likewise. So now I am experimenting.
During the week there was a newspaper story talking about the growth of Facebook and the progressive aging of MySpace, aging in the sense that older people are making increasing use of MySpace while the younger migrated to Facebook.
This got me wondering about social networking tools and, more specifically, what made them rise and fall.
In part for work reasons, in part personal interest, I suppose that I have experiemented with most of the networking tools from wikis to Google and Yahoo groups to LinkedIn to blogs to Plaxo and now Facebook. Among other things, this has left a sort of electronic profile litter splashed across the web, something that I have to do something about at some point.
Some things have not really worked at all, some have worked to a point, some have worked but then stopped working.
The obvious key is the time/value trade-off. All these things take time. Time is short, so people will participate only so long as they feel that they are getting value for their time.
I know that this seems self-evident, but it does explain why things rise and fall. Certainly among the young I think that it explains the rise in popularity of Facebook.
Facebook has clean lines, so its easy to read and use. It's highly interactive, something that is important to our tribal young - and to some of their elders! It also has lots of gimmicks, although here I think that there is a potential problem because of the rise of clutter.
On the other hand, it is not as good for longer communication. This may well explain why MySpace has become popular among some adults - it is good, for example, in keeping families in touch over distance.
Fashion will always be important in attracting people. But once we extract the fashion element, we come back to the use of these things as tools. Now this is where I stand at present.
As a dedicated if lagged follower of fashion, what do I want to keep across my now very substantial electronic footprint? What is of real value given my very constrained time? How do I manage it all?