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The social networks are like TV shows. They have a limited run. This is because it's entertainment, rather than tech.

Hollywood knows how this works, and they do not incorporate or IPO each individual TV show: instead they incorporate studios, that produce many different shows. Facebook is forced into this model too by reality, thus they bought Instagram, and tried to buy Snapchat. Those shows will also have a limited lifetime. Facebook will fail, because they do not recognize that they are in the entertainment business and they will cling to their one single show.

Someone needs to create a non-gaming software studio, that is tooled to make or to buy Instagrams for less than $1bn, knowing that they constantly need to retire the old shows and come up with the new ones.

You haven't provided any evidence that social networks in fact behave like TV shows.

The fact that one effect of social networks is to entertain people, and the fact that TV shows also have the effect of entertaining people, does not imply social networks are therefore bound to the rules/generalizations of TV shows.

That's pretty lame, argonaut. OP made an interesting analogy which I haven't seen before. He is setting the stage for further discussion. It's not like he ended his post with "QED."

Why is my point lame? The funny thing is that I responded precisely because I thought the OP's analogy was lame. I think it's only slightly removed from the usual "X social network is a fad" comment. Saying "Facebook will fail [because of the above]" is closer to QED than it is to setting the stage for further discussion.

This is not a trial or Wikipedia, one doesn't have to display evidence to share thoughts.

Please retort, provide counter-arguments or share your point.

The fact that one effect of social networks is to entertain people, and the fact that TV shows also have the effect of entertaining people, does not imply social networks are therefore bound to the rules/generalizations of TV shows.

You are arguing over the logic of an analogy, but what about sharing your point of view?

The OP made a statement but didn't provide any reasons as to why the statement is true. If you want to get technical about it, it's not my burden to retort something unsubstantiated.

>You haven't provided any evidence that social networks in fact behave like TV shows.

No, but he made an argument. You have to judge it. Not everything in life is settled with "evidence".

I didn't assert that he or she didn't make an argument. I'm just saying the argument has no evidence or logical reasoning for it. Otherwise it's just speculation.

Yes, the best kind of argument, where you get to think for yourself if it holds.

^This doesn't make any sense.

It seems like you're implying entertainment : limited run :: tech : not limited run. But that can't be right, because plenty of bits of tech have had limited runs, and there are bits of entertainment that are centuries old and still going. So could you clarify what you meant in your first paragraph?

I think that it would be more correct to say the social networks that have failed have not had the kind of classical design that could make them long-term parts of society, unlike, say, Shakespeare. But then, that is a fairly trivial observation too. Of course social networks that have failed have lacked the qualities that could make them not fail.

some tech has short run; and some entertainment has long runs (like ER TV show), but these are exceptions to the rule. Your search engine, Google has enjoyed a 14 year run, and is going strong. Windows OS has enjoyed a nearly 30 years run so far. Kardashians on the other hand, enjoyed only a couple of years of popularity. This is what I mean.

Facebook has to evolve from being entertainment, to being technology. For example, look at Steam. It's a platform for distributing games. It's not going away any time soon. They work to improve the platform. They're going to open the platform up, so everyone can publish games. They're not simply a website that tries to sell you games.

Facebook needs to do the same if they want to survive. They need to stop being a social networking site, and be a social networking platform, that others build from. Facebook the site, should be one site of many using that platform. I should be able to develop a social networking site built from the Facebook platform, to compete with the Facebook site. Then when my site gets old, or the Facebook site gets old, new sites emerge, and build off the data from the existing platform. This way, it lives on. However, this will never happen, and Facebook will die.

Facebook is already a hugely popular social networking platform. Facebook login is the most immediately visible aspect of this platform.

That's an interesting analogy. However, I don't think that Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, etc are as easy to replicate as a TV show. Empirically, social products are exceptionally difficult to 'manufacture' and are usually the result of side projects and early stage startups.

Big hit TV shows are extraordinarily rare. Most fail; most fail quickly.

You can just about list on one hand every decade, the number of shows that last more than five years and bring in big ratings (audience / users). Shows like Friends, Seinfeld, The Simpsons, Roseanne, Mash, etc.

Hit TV shows are extraordinarily difficult to 'manufacture.' Out of thousands proposed and scripted by writers, one or two per year are hits if you're lucky. Out of those, a few survive five or seven years.

And that's all true even with the huge built-in audiences that companies such as NBC, ABC, CBS have that show up every night waiting to watch content. There aren't 100,000 other apps to compete with, just a few major deliverers of TV shows / networks; and the failure rate is still that high.

How do you think of Reddit in that framework? Reddit itself is explicitly a tool for creating, basically, community sites. How closely does it fit with your vision of a tool for crafting social networks? When do you predict it will fail?

Facebook revolves around making people interesting and providing people-based content to consume.

Reddit revolves around people finding interesting content and providing it to others to be consumed with some commentary on the side.

I'm not sure how they're comparable. Sure, reddit has a community aspect, but it's really just a side dish compared to the content (links).

This simply isn't true.

Many of the subreddits (e.g. the ones dedicated to cities or schools) are far more about the community than the content.

> Sure, reddit has a community aspect, but it's really just a side dish compared to the content (links).

Maybe if you stick to the default subreddits that are composed entirely of memes.

The main reason that I use Reddit is for the discussion; I highly, highly doubt that you're going to find /r/askscience-calibre conversations on Facebook.

OTOH, subreddits like IAMA, AskScience and ELI5 are fairly significant parts of reddit. In fact, most of the top items in /all are memes that refer back to things that happen within Reddit, so I'm not sure the links to external websites are nearly as important as the community these days.

I worked for one of those "non-gaming software studio" and I am doubtful that this approach is the right one.

My experience is unfortunately anecdotal, but I'd say the energy you have in an early stage startup that is focused on building a good product is difficult to replicate, and without this, I believe competing against the Instagrams and the Facebooks is no easy task.

I would argue the social networks as a whole operate more like a network than a tv show. The features are the shows, the users provide the episodes.

The challenge is to get the right features sho that the users provide the content that keeps their friends and connections coming back.

A better analogy might be an entertainment venue, like a bar or theatre.

Those with the broadest appeal last longer, some never get off the ground, others shine brightly and then fade.

isn't that what Obvious is?


In its emergent form, yes. They need to start branding it: Medium [brought to you by Obvious]. More importantly, the key is to reduce the cost of purchasing or coding the next Instagram, as the commenter above noted.

Does this mean I'm going to have to rescue my data every time a software/network is "retired"?

Rather than rescuing your data, start publishing to your own platform and syndicating content out to whichever silos become popular.

This is the idea behind 'Indie Web' [1] and even though it is harder at first it is the simplest long-term solution. Domain names are cheap, hosting is cheap, and publishing isn't very difficult.


'Rescue' might be the wrong word here. A simple transfer, or updated 'address' form would seem more likely. Like when you want to delete a WP blog, it gives you several options for your content/blog (though most imply not owning it anymore).

That assumes the services you're moving between are based on any kind of standard. Try moving your Facebook data to Google+ and see how far you get.

I suppose this highlights the problem with a third-party owned and run system - you don't own your data! You are at the mercy of the third party for data that you put there and believe are owed.

Of course. Or rather, that you'll learn that the more important data, you publish on your own, and everything else is transient.

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