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20.11.08

Getting down to being sensible 

That was one of the more entertaining Vista Group gatherings for a while, with the entire ‘A’ Team there (minus our equivalent of B. A. Baracus).
   In summary, about the US , the views were the following:

Jim: Chapter 7;
Mark: Chapter 11;
Natalie: the good thing is that the Hummer will die;
Jack: loan guarantees but with harsh conditions.

   As usual, some of the more interesting things came up off the agenda. An important one, which no doubt affects most readers, is the value of social networking and similar services.
   Natalie cannot see much merit in certain sites such as Digg, Twitter and Facebook beyond their core raisons d’être, and , in particular, was good to keep in touch with old friends, for instance for a get-together. Jim and Mark felt that sites such as LinkedIn did their task far better.
   I have to agree in most respects. Last night, Campbell Live interviewed my friend Helen Baxter, who commented about Facebook. In its quest to find the most connected New Zealander, it noted that John Key had 5,000—the programme neglected to mention that 5,000 is the upper friend limit on the service—while Helen Clark remained in the high 2,000s. DJ Pauline Gillespie had between 3,000 and 4,000.
   If have Facebook pages—as they have had for some time—then we can say that the cool factor has worn off. If a prime-time TV programme does a segment on friend numbers on Facebook, then we can definitely say the cool factor has worn off (albeit Campbell Live is still cooler than Close up).
   Before you say that there is no way that these sites will lose patronage, remember that no one said that of or AltaVista as the last decade ended. Yahoo! stock has been heading south (to the point where Reuter and others no longer put the exclamation mark at the end of the name), while most people under a certain age have not even heard of AltaVista. Once upon a time, both sites behaved as though they would be around forever: the thought of Yahoo! being acquired was about as likely as that new upstart singer announcing she had lost her virginity.
   Their downfall began happening around 1998 when they began adding non-search services and moved away from what they did best: maintaining a directory and search services respectively. Then some new site called Google started up. The rest is history.
   I personally loved AltaVista and thought the site did the portal thing better than most. The AltaVista Entertainment Zone was a good place to get more in-depth, well written content in the early 2000s. But the model was not sustainable: Entertainment Zone was killed off, and there was one less reason to go to AV. Especially as those folks at that Google site began growing the index.
   So we know that success as a dot com can be fleeting. Facebook has shown itself to be one of the most arrogant sites out there. Statistics show that we still get a bit of traffic through the service on our sites, but I wonder if Natalie is right when she predicts that people will move away from such networks in favour of specific content sites once more.
   While I am around 18 friends away from the 1,000 mark—with around one in seven not known to me, who are most likely my customers—I no longer go in to Facebook regularly. I have the feeds from this blog plugged in, and it keeps my contacts in touch with what I have Dugg or posted. About a year ago I would say I was a daily or twice-daily visitor. Or worse: some of my team say they remember my having one laptop open just on Facebook. (Hey, that counted as one visit. Just a really long visit.)
   For many of the less well known out there, I say they need to be profession- or interest-specific in order to survive.
   I’d rather concentrate on developing our own then, write the occasional blog post so Mark can link to my experiences about ‘Asian banking’, and do what I did at the beginning of the century when it came to the ’net: increase our search engine visibility with solid articles.
   As to , I wonder if its heyday has passed, too. However, it has survived all these newer and it has remained a viable business one. Never mind that it has a few things to answer for with its corporate behaviour, we might be in an era when people want to take away some of their lives’ complexities, focus a bit more on the real things (real-life friendships are more fun than Facebook-only ones), and see what we can do to give our existence some meaning.
   Fun time with Facebook, just as with AltaVista, might be over.
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Entries from 2006 to the end of 2009 were done on the Blogger service. As of January 1, 2010, this blog has shifted to a Wordpress installation, with the latest posts here.
   With Blogger ceasing to support FTP publishing on May 1, I have decided to turn these older pages in to an archive, so you will no longer be able to enter comments. However, you can comment on entries posted after January 1, 2010.


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