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Why App.net Is A Threat To The Free Social Media Landscape

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I’ve been on App.net for a few days now. Its Alpha iteration is basically a clutter-free Micro-blogging site that works very nicely. Nothing special to report so far, except that it’s kind of paying to have the privilege of being on Twitter in 2006.

But that may be the point.

People have written off App.net before it’s even begun. But even if it fails – and I don’t think it will – the service will still have proved a major point. The message is this; social media is virtually without financial value to consumers. Nobody wants to pay for it. They want it for free or don’t give a shit about it at all. In other words, if the fact that “we are the product” becomes too clear, we’ll know we’ve been stiffed and we’ll move on to another technology.

Ning was supposed to be – and frankly should have been – the answer to a serious problem in social media. It’s too damn public. Google + came along and enabled circling which, with management, definitely makes your feed your own, but that pesky organizational thing is an issue. And the elephant in the room, Facebook, has been busy mimicking G+ in order to keep its billion users happy.

Social media is a double time-suck for the most part. There’s the obsessive over-featuring on the one hand, along with the organization burden that comes with it. And on the other, there’s the constant and frankly pathetic human need for narcissistic validation that’s like a lead weight of insecurity following you around, like a slave’s ball and chain. We’re wasting our time with this stuff, and we know it. But it’s a drug. A social ME-dia drug. My guess is it will – ultimately – give way. And services like App.net will help fill a growing need for something more – or more accurately, something less.

Facebook is rapidly turning into a money machine, feeding on your content to satisfy its shareholders and big advertisers. Well done them. They’re bringing us the ability to buy more crap, and get into more debt, which we’ll be passing on to our kids. My guess is that over time it will get out of the Social Network game, and turn itself into a vast corporate bank, the Berkshire Hathaway of the future. And because money begats money in this grand old world, its future looks rosy indeed. The same is probably true of Google, which is diversifying into real world industries pretty fast.

And where will that leave the Social layer? Over time it’s likely to become transactional. If you value it, if the service is good enough, you will pay for it.

App.net is built on the same model as HBO. You pay for it, so you don’t have to dvr the ads out of the way. In other words your stream isn’t cluttered. It’s clean. You don’t pay much. Thirty-six bucks a year. But it’s money well spent if you like feeling emancipated from the frenzied, over-colonized, ad-obsessed world that social media has become.

So far the HBO model has failed to penetrate the world of social media and for that matter journalism to any meaningful degree, but if it does, and it could, then normal service could be resumed. Life and culture could be restored beyond a viral lurch this way or another according to the latest boring, repetitive meme.

And who pays the price if App.net and other paywalls work?

The celebrities and their microceleb cousins, the marketers, the publicity whores, the social media experts.

Seems like a good trade to put them out of business.

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Written by coolrebel

March 10, 2013 at 10:21 am

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