I had a persistent Matty Groves earworm on the way to work.
There are worse possibilities, and it reminded me of this poll.
It’s funny how social networks (as they’re now called) come and
never quite go, isn’t it? Usenet hasn’t died as such but as a
discussion medium it’s hugely declined: cam.ac.uk measurements of
their (text-only) feed peaked at 20GB/month in 1999 and fell to about
6GB/month in 2009 when they gave up. My own
measurements only start a while after that and cover a smaller set
of groups (I think - I don’t know exactly what cam.ac.uk were
carrying) but also show decline from 70Mbyte/day (about 2GB/month) to
about half that a couple of years later.
(Binaries groups are still going strong, as far as I know; but they
are a bulk copyright violation medium, not a discussion medium; they
just happen to share some infrastructure.)
Similarly Livejournal seems to be much quieter than it used to be
(although they seem to have stopped collecting posts-per-day stats in
2003, so it’s harder to quantify this).
In the case of Usenet’s decline there’s a lot of argument about its
visibility (i.e. it’s not web-based), its limited feature set and its
surly user base. Some of the claims are more convincing than others;
for instance Google Groups may be a bit rubbish but it does provide
Usenet access to anyone with a web browser.
It’s harder to identify anything about Livejournal that
could explain its apparent decline. (I count Dreamwidth as part of
Livejournal for these purposes; while it’s doubtless drawn some
traffic from it, it’s not enough to make up for the decline.) People
seem to have just drifted away to the (now more widely known)
And what lot there are. As well as here and Usenet, I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Flickr and Tumblr (twice), and that’s only
counting the ones that I look at more than once a year (identi.ca, I’m (not) looking at you.)
I’m currently finding it unreasonably time-consuming to keep up,
and I think this is likely to be an important factor in the decline of
the older systems; most people are simply not very willing to try to
keep up with half a dozen of these things (even if each is relatively
low-traffic in its own right), and therefore pick just one or two.
- Some people crosspost their Twitter into Facebook (etc). This
doesn’t really help with the keeping up - indeed if anything the
duplication can make it marginally worse, since there’s sometimes a
parallel set of comments to read. (Or to ignore…)
- Amusingly, “tumblr” is now
as popular a Google search term as “blog”.
- Google+ wins the prize for most opaque profile URL. I guess the
idea is for every individual for the next few generations to be able
to have billions of distinct identities?