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Re: [Social-discuss] Adoption dynamics (and why your intuition fails)

From: Ted Smith
Subject: Re: [Social-discuss] Adoption dynamics (and why your intuition fails)
Date: Fri, 28 May 2010 17:34:03 -0400

On Fri, 2010-05-28 at 21:16 +0100, Nathan wrote:
> Miron Cuperman wrote:
> > Hi all,
> > 
> > We have a common goal.  We would like people to control their destiny by
> > moving from proprietary social networks to distributed ones (dsns).
> > 
> > However, social networks are like the Internet and the telephone, and
> > unlike, for example, Mailman or PHP.  Mailman and PHP are tools.  You
> > pick them up, use them, deploy them, then put them aside for awhile.  A
> > social network is only useful when used in collaboration with your
> > friends and under daily engagement.  A social network has very different
> > adoption dynamics from the tools that you used or helped develop.
> > 
> > For a new social network to succeed, its adoption cannot be
> > incremental.  It has to be a rapid exponential.  After you join, 10 of
> > your friends must join within 3 days, and 50 within 3 months.  Otherwise
> > it will fail, just like others have failed.  (I think the Diaspora guys
> > get the adoption part.  I don't know about their tech...)
> > 
> > Your intuition is that you can incrementally develop a system and that
> > it will be incrementally implemented and adopted.  This intuition is wrong.
> > 
> > The only way to succeed is to have a "big bang" release.  There must be
> > an adoption date chosen and a compelling message (like "quit FB day",
> > but with a positive alternative).  There has to be an easy to adopt dsn
> > that is not too fragmented or confusing.  Usability has to be
> > excellent.  There has to be virality built in.  You must be encouraged
> > to invite your friends and it is easy to do so.  The default message to
> > your friends must be compelling.  You must be able to find your friends
> > if they are already on.  The user experience must be on par with what
> > they are used to.
> If you've got an open decentralized social network.. then why would you 
> need to invite anybody? to where exactly? and why a 'big bang', I can 
> see why if you're 'just another silo' trying to play catch up with 
> twitter, facebook et al - but not for this - unless of course, I 
> completely misunderstand what everybodies thinking & talking about.
To get them out of the silos. There is no way to interoperate with
Facebook. There is evil there that does not sleep.

> Regardless though, virality (?sp), is completely built in - make good, 
> useful tools, where the user controls their own destiny+data, and you're 
> done - build it well and the masses will come, build it badly and.. well 
> no loss in the scheme of things because other will build good things :)
> AFAICT, this isn't really a flash in the pan thing, a miss it and you've 
> messed up scenario - this is the ground work for the next generation of 
> the web - pretty much an unstoppable movement.

I completely disagree. I think it's dangerous to assume that just
because things are "right", they're unstoppable - it's perfectly
possible for the silos to take over and for Facebook to reign forever.
Picture a boot datamining a human social graph, controlling all the
world's data, over and over, forever.

Diaspora does understand virality. They managed to get almost 200k by
capitalizing on Facebook users' dissent. What I think they missed,
though, was the fact that nobody will care about what Facebook did in
May in September. For that reason, I think Diaspora will have a fizzle
launch, and maybe pick up the next time Facebook does something if
nothing better has replaced them.

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