Alright, I have a confession to make. I recently traded an online poker hobby (an addiction according to my wife) for a quest for the perfect social media experience. This is my story.
My first “taste” of social media started innocently enough about seven years ago when I signed up for Plaxo. You remember Plaxo – that simple website that allowed you to sync your Outlook contacts online. It was a godsend when I changed jobs that year and didn’t want to get caught in Outlook/spreadsheet formatting/exporting/importing hell. After I solved that problem, I promptly forgot about them. I know there’s PlaxoPulse but it looks like its going end up a bridesmaid.
About 18 months later, I started to see my first connection requests for LinkedIn. They came from some quality people so I had to join. Fast forward five years and a couple of hundred LinkedIn contacts later, I have a pretty nice virtual Rolodex complete with downloadable Vcards. Feeling pretty good about this, the MIT InfiniteConnection and sundry email accounts, I didn’t feel the need to go shopping for any new tools to “manage” my friends.
Boom. Enter the Web 2.0 explosion. “You have to be on Facebook” says one friend. “No, it’s Twitter where the really important people hang out”, says another. “You need FriendFeed to make sense of it all”, the Twitterati scream.
In this process, I have discovered that 2008 in the Web 2.0 world (do people still use this term?) is analogous to 1900 in the auto industry. We are witnessing an era of incredible innovation with social media companies forming for every imaginable niche interest group. As a student of technology evolution, it will be fascinating to see that magic moment when the dominant design emerges (or maybe it already has?) and we see the obvious winners and losers.
Until then, I am going to keep on signing up for new sites and staking claim to my online persona (who is this @tangyslice guy anyways?) in as many channels as possible. Who knows, the next winner is likely to be the one with a funny sounding 5 letter name who figures out that I just want an easy way to connect with the people important to me and colleagues interested in following my path in life. Sounds simple right? We’ll see…