Is social media a fad? Social media in 2009 = Multimedia in 1993

Cynics will roll their eyes, but there are some really interesting stats in this video.

Is Social media in 2009 = Multimedia in 1993? CD-ROM's were big and new then. Siliwood, or multimedia gulch, they called San Francisco. People were going nuts about interactive video. There was real tech behind it. There were cool new user scenarios and experiences unlocked before our eyes. Interact with a movie? Tell stories in a whole new way? It was a veritable boom.

We don't talk about multimedia anymore -- but maybe that's because the boom fulfilled its promise. Here's hoping social media can overcome its hype curve as well. And we're on the front lines. Damn, it's an exciting time to be alive.

Kodak Gallery breaks the cardinal UGC rule: Let users own their stuff

I recently had a problem with Kodak Gallery. I made the mistake of using them for some photos about six or seven years ago, when I didn't know any better. Someone at Kodak has decided to make a buck off of this mistake, and the mistake of hundreds of thousands of other poor souls who also became Kodak Gallery users. They said they would delete our photos if we didn't buy a bunch of stuff.

I spent a couple hours writing a simple ruby script that let people download their full Kodak galleries without resorting to paying exorbitant fees to get an Archive CD. Or in the case of one user, NINETY archive CD's.

Here's the comment I received earlier from a Kodak Gallery user named Deepak Jain this evening that blew me away:
I've been using Kodakgallery since 2003 (when there weren't many options and I figured Kodak was a good enough name to stay around). I didn't even mind buying stuff form them until photographs became passe.

I even tried to buy their Archive CD except their system can't process > 40,000 images via Archive CD.

They keep canceling my order without comment. [ed: emphasis mine]

(Current photo storage: 62.532 GB Used,
219 galleries,
Your Archive CD Pricing:
Number of Photos: 42666
Cost of your CD: $667.85 FYI).

Works like a champ. Send me an address and I'll send you some beer or money or something.

It's one thing to charge, and it's another thing to charge a user $700. But to not even be able to process that order is incompetent and absurd. To be honest, I made the same mistake. I thought Kodak was a good enough brand. Evidently good enough to eat 70 gigabytes of cherished photos and require an open source ruby script to extricate it.

Deepak, I'm glad the script ended up being useful for you. User generated content sites of any kind should heed this rule: Let users download their data. Making a buck is fine, and in fact necessary. But when you're dealing with people's memories, do not hold them hostage.

In an era of re-tweets and re-blogs, what happens to truth?

Following the crowd is best strategy for an individual until too many people follow the crowd, and then it’s a terrible strategy.  The irony.
--Mike Speiser via

In his blog post today, "Are social networks destroying knowledge?" Mike Speiser explores whether our new online medium is actually leading us astray in some way.

I'd go further and wonder -- do we become more disconnected in that we have greater variety and choice in media? American political discourse has become more rabidly partisan than ever. Farhad Manjoo of Salon posits we are in a post-fact society where it's difficult to know what is true and not.

I'd argue that social networks don't really make this post-fact society any better or worse. It's nothing new compared to the initial shock of the new that was Web 1.0. The only difference is now we can be misled a lot faster.

The power of twitter search: A rice cooker just added you.

via Twitter

Earlier that day, div_conspiracy tweeted something related to Posterous and it appeared on my tweetdeck: "tumblr or posterous? I don't have room for both. I see that tumblr just rev'd today." Moments later, I fired a quip back, " revs every day." He then tweeted offhandedly about rice cookers, and Eugene suddenly got added by a twitter ricecooker. All within the span of a few minutes. People are definitely listening.

I wonder if people will tweet less often if they know people are watching. Perhaps some will. But I doubt it. At the risk of pontificating about twitter vs facebook (that most egregious and trite of Web 2.0 blog offenses), I'd say that's the what makes twitter significant. Facebook is all about communicating with your friends and people I already know, but Twitter lets you talk about anything publicly. And that's the point.

Someone told me once that online action is all about appealing to baser instincts -- greed, lust, thirst for fame, and the like. That's where Twitter fits in. Every time you tweet, you have a chance to expand your circle of influence. It's compelling because it is public. Psychologically, this results in a hedonic ramp of wanting to get more followers. People won't admit it, but subconsciously people want to become Internet famo (aka Web 2.0 famous, or almost not really famous). Hell, there's even a class at Parsons New School for Design called Internet Famous, on how to spread your work to the widest possible audience online through the 'online attention economy' of blogs, social media, etc.

The same famo principle is at work with MySpace as well. Much has been made of the socioeconomic class divisions of social networks. But maybe those poor huddled masses of MySpace users are more likely to admit they want to be famous. Heck, it worked for Tila Tequila. How many services out there have made people famo? Twitter and MySpace. Others?

To paraphrase the Hacker Manifesto: I am a twit, enter my world. The world of the electron and the tweet, the beauty of the blog.

What does it profit a social media service to gain the whole world but lose its own soul?

Social media invites make me laugh. Here's one I got just this morning from

You will like it.Click to find out whyPlease accept or reject this invitation by clicking below:[[bebo link]]

When I asked my friend if she actually sent it, she was embarrassed as heck. No, she said. She did not write "You will like it." Of course the phrase "Click to find out why" really tipped me off to how fake these invite messages actually are. Are you kidding? I know nobody except a engineer would write something so incredibly lame. Call to actions are great, but if you're going to impersonate someone with text (the from line was sent from my friend's email address, not from, at least make it a plausible lie.

Was hanging out with my friend Dave Zohrob yesterday and he was mentioning how the most successful social media takes its cues essentially from two places: 1) video games (which is awesome) and 2) spammers (which is just straight up evil).

I think the moral question for these sites is: At what cost viral?