The Guardian’s Predictions For 2008

Facebook is so last year. It’s official – it was in the Guardian. It was back in May (2007) when John Kirriemuir picked up on the buzz which Facebook was generating, with his post Facebook: Social Networking grows up? describing how

there is now a social networking site that: (1) is based around people and their real social networks’ (2) looks quite good’ (3) isn’t full of inane people spouting inane conversation’ (4) is very easy to use and configure’ (5) has a growing number of add-ons, some with potential educational uses and (6) is expanding in terms of who is using it“.

Well with the possible exception of (3) I feel John’s predictions for Facebook were true. But Facebook is now suffering from over-exposure – there are now tutorials on use of Facebook in a library context, which illustrates how mainstream Facebook has become. The cool guys are becoming excited by a number of emerging technologies. But what are they?

The Cool New Services For 2008

The Guardian suggests Twitter will be big in 2008. I recently echoed this sentiment and I’ve also noticed that JISC are making use of Twitter and intend to use it to support the JISC 2008 conference (but note that other micro-blogging tools such as Jaiku have their fans).

Dopplr, which is also mentioned in the Guardian article, is another service I’ve been using for some time, to record details of my trips and to share this information with my contacts.

Excluding Web sites aimed at kids, the other service mentioned in the Guardian article is I’ve not yet got an account for this service, but a Techcrunch article describes how this video-like Twitter service service: “Users can upload video directly from their webcam and post it to a personal generic topamax 100mg page like with Twitter. They can also grab content from other sites such as YouTube by copying a video’s url and placing it in their stream. Additionally, videos that users create can be automatically linked to in twitter (potentially other platforms) and uploaded to YouTube.

Whither Facebook?

So there are several new services to excite the early adopters. But what does this mean for Facebook? Will it face a gradual, or even sudden, demise? I would suggest that this will not be the case. Rather, like Microsoft’s operating system, office suite and Web browser, it will be a part of the infrastructure, widely used by many and having a significant role to play within organisations. But it will not be sexy. And, just like Microsoft products, it will have flaws (the annoying email messages which some Facebook apps send out seems to have parallels with Microsoft’s little-lamented dancing paper clip)  – such flaws do not necessarily lead to a downturn in a product’s usage.

So the early adopters will be excited by the new generation of micro-blogging and multi-media blogging tools. But when people start to question Twitter’s financial viability and the mass media start to speculate on how it can be misused (being used by paedophiles, perhaps) or the services which make it easy to share travel information are  used by burglars to target their house-breaking activities, it will be time for the early adopters to move on to the next generation of tools.

Or to put it another way, when the early adopters begin to distance themselves from a tool, this may be when it has progressed on the Gartner curve from the early adopters to mainstream usage.   And, for me, the mainstream usage of services is something to be welcome.