Ghost Sites of the Web

Web 1.0 history, forgotten web celebrities, old web sites, commentary, and news by Steve Baldwin. Published erratically since 1996.

July 14, 2006 The Bastard Son of theGlobe?

Everybody's tongues are wagging about Major advertising agencies are throwing millions of dollars at it, and other sites such as Last week, Hitwise rated a more popular destination site than Yahoo. All seem to agree that the future of the Web is in Social Networking.

Who was that crazy philosopher who said that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it?" Well, old Santayana wouldn't have been able to cut it as a well-paid Internet pundit today -- I can just see them dragging him out from some Web 2.0 conference. Unfortunately, folks, we've seen this all before. Remember That long-gone Web company with the highest-flying IPO in history? What was but a social networking site, where friends could post silly comments, upload silly stuff, and cross-post even sillier comments and sillier stuff on their own pages? What was Geocities but a social networking site? How about Friendster? Where are these sites today?

I'm not going to say that is going to implode, but the fact that people by the millions are pumping files into it today says absolutely squat about where they'll be pumping their files tomorrow. Social Networking is an old, old meme (remember Howard Rhinegold?) and the fact is that the whole damn Internet is about social networking. As long as people can get from place to place with a single hyperlink, that's going to be true. The fact that a sizeable share of this audience happens to be alighting on a particular site this month or this year is of zero value in terms of predicting the future. Yes, having "critical mass" is worth something but critical mass is necessarily ephemeral in a medium where behavior is ruled by memes, fads, and crazes. Betting billions on social networking sites makes as much sense as building a high-rise building on a sandy, unstable shore.

Which doesn't mean that there aren't people who will build it anyway.

Think will be on top of the heap in 2007? If you do, then All Your Base Are Belong to Us.

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