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Social networking enters the dreaded “It’s Complicated” stage — Tech News and Analysis

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What do Bill Belichick defensive schemes, Tom Clancy novels, Google+ and Facebook have in common? The answer is that all are so byzantine that they leave many people scratching their heads to figure them out.

For NFL playbooks and spy novels, such intricacies are the norm. Social networking should not be that way. The trouble is the latter is rapidly descending into a black hole of complexity that you now really do need one of those Missing Manuals to figure out the basics.

With all of the news coming out of Google and Facebook this week, our relationship with social networking sites has entered the dreaded ”it’s complicated” stage. That’s a shame, since it’s simplicity that attracted us in the first place.

Google’s minimalist interface and ability to execute a search exceptionally well is what catapulted it to the forefront. It made us quickly see just how bloated other services like Yahoo had become as they aimed to become portals. Now Google is a complex portal.

Facebook, much the same, rose to prominence because it was just so simple compared to others. Back in 2007, author/pundit Jeff Jarvis praised its “elegant organization” as the nucleus of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s genius.  Now, however, the interface has grown a lot more complicated. It too is a portal.

Somewhere along the way both Google and Facebook lost sight of keeping things simple

Today Google+ and Facebook are locked in a features arms race the likes of which we haven’t seen since Microsoft Word defeated Wordperfect back in the early 1990s. Both are rapidly adding buttons and gizmos to keep a fickle public in their grasp.

On the one hand, some might see this as a smart move. History has shown us that no single community or social platform has had staying power more than a few years. Users get bored, new platforms emerge and there’s churn. Features encourage tighter connections, more sharing and increase the emotional switching “costs.” It can keep users in their fold – even the disgruntled.

But there’s a balance, and both are starting to go too far

via Social networking enters the dreaded “It’s Complicated” stage — Tech News and Analysis.


Written by Kees Winkel

September 25, 2011 at 19:51

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