Wed, 02 May 2007
Yesterday I suddenly remembered Friends Reunited. 5 or so years ago that would have been a foolish statement to write. The website was everywhere and seemed to constantly be in the papers. Now, you hear nothing about it and instead the news is all about myspace, bebo, facebook and so on.
Two things strike me about this. The obvious one is that the interwebs are fickle and things come and go.
The second is that Friends Reunited has largely disappeared as it was about reaching back into the past to reconnect and that this is something that isn't useful to the people leaving school and university now. They have no need for a service to reconnect them with their peers. This means that Friends Reunited relies on people who went to school or university before the current rush of social networking sites sprang up and this is a problem.
If you want to get in contact with people you used to know then this is largely a one time operation. Once you're back in contact with them then the tool you used to get back in contact is redundant. And this is the problem that Friends Reunited has -- built in redundancy.
However, in this there is also a hint of the problems likely to beset the current crop of social networks, that of only being relevant while their underlying technology is relevant. In a number of ways all of these sites are fairly conventional in structure. As a user you have a page where you can put stuff and people can look to see information about you. It's all fairly static. Compare this to twitter which is about now and is all about change. Or to dopplr or upcoming which are about the future. In this respect these three sites seem to me to be more in tune with how the web can be used to help people stay in contact and how it will be used by people. And also why while ITV was a bit foolish to blow 120 million GBP on Friends Reunited, News Corp was a lot more ill advised to pay more than twice that for MySpace. In five years the first was obsolete and in less than that it's as likely as not that the latter will be too.
posted at: 22:03 #