Jevon has a great post up today on how the new trend towards social aggregators is missing the point.
I’ve called these things underpants business models. Collecting a lot of people’s seemingly-useless personal stuff in one place, but then, through some magical step 2, everyone profits. I, like Jevon, and everyone else, are still waiting for anyone to come anywhere close to step 2. Yet the aggregator startup fad just keeps coming. Everyone seems to be wearing them these days… Jaiku, plaxo, friendfeed, socialthing etc.
But, as Google has proved since 1998, there’s little value in aggregating the whole internet, but a lot of value to be created in synthesizing it. Aggregating random data easy. Relevant, human-interesting synthesis hard, but the only place where value is created.
What exacerbates the synthesis problem is that, often with these apps, even the underpants suck. Most of these sites aggregate feeds based on any/all of what feeds your friends have available rather than what’s meaningful. No thanks, I don’t need an unfiltered list of every single track you listened to in iTunes yesterday.
I think only facebook -in it’s heyday, before the application spam took over, and drowned out all semblance of meaningful social interaction- ever had it close to right. (The original) facebook filtered heavily and focused only a few relatively high-social-value feeds of information. Even this has been debated.
As Bruce Sterling put it a year ago following a lot of blogs/twitter/social-presence can be like watching someone getting beaten to death with croutons.
Or to keep with the cruder underpants metaphor: Nobody wants an experience that feels like drinking from the firehose social diarrhea.
Anyway, thanks to Jevon for pushing me towards getting down the real post I’ve meaning to write…
Coming up on ThomasPurves.com : Why the Social media is still absolutely important, and why it don’t matter at all. (a.k.a. How socialness is just one of many vital prerequisites, but not the point, of the future of software)