I finally got around to Nick Carr’s Social Software in Perspective post; he’s always good for a couple of nuggets:
“Social software,” writes Phil Edwards today, “looks like very big news indeed from some perspectives, but when it’s held to the standard of actually helping people get stuff done, it fades into insignificance.[…] [S]ocial software begins to look like a Tardis in reverse: much, much bigger on the outside than it is on the inside.”
The crowd may enjoy the product of other people’s inputs, but for the rather small group of individuals actually doing the work, it demands the investment of a lot of time for very little personal gain. It’s a fun diversion for a while – and then it turns into drudgery.
Greg Linden, who should know, adds that
People are lazy, appropriately so. If you ask them to do work, most of them won’t do it. From their point of view, you’re only of value to them if you save them time.
Ryan is right, most folks outside the teenage demographic don’t have time to spend actively seeking out new social networking tools. Instead, if we did hear about it we would probably find out by someone else telling us or by somehow inviting us to participate…If we look at the history of software, we see that it trends toward modeling human behavior (as I’ve mentioned before)…I quoted Wil Wright recently, and I think he’s (pardon the pun) right on. First thought of as super calculators, computers are now part of the social fabric of our lives. They are becoming integral to how we communicate with our family, friends, and colleagues. They’re still doing calculations of course, but the software that we’ve designed for them is all about human-to-human contact. Social contact. And since we’re social animals in the end, the trend of modeling this in software won’t be reversing any time soon.
I’m reminded of Eszter Hargittai’s research showing a low degree of awareness of web 2.0 tools by college students. (She presented some of her findings the Beyond Broadcast conference earlier this year.)