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Dean Whitbread 2013

Dean Whitbread 2020

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Written on May 7, 2009, and categorized as Flip side.
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This excellent Business Week article contains input from three people I “follow”, Brad Fidler, Tom Sparks and Loic Le Meur. Here’s the comment I would like to have left had they allowed me the space…

Very interesting. I think your analysis is accurate – as far as it goes, but you focus on technology and ignore a very large part of the picture, which is the people who populate and use the technology.

I got to know Tom, Brad, Loic, Kosso and a couple of dozen other people from Seesmic.

These platforms are like clubs. For a brief period, they become the place to be for a certain crowd, and exclusivity adds to that allure. When Seesmic opened in closed alpha, it had that je ne sais quoi which made it a draw for early adopters who stuck around and explored the nascent medium. If the company had been a different kind of place, it would have attracted a very different crowd and doubtless, I and others would have gone elsewhere.

Seesmic did very well by building a sense of community early on by editing user videos together in weekly “best of” shows, and when they replaced this with more conventional scripted videos, the vibrant community howled with disappointment and drifted away. Without the experimenters, the place seemed more like every other venue.

Ditto Phreadz, which initially succeeded as an alt.Seesmic – the private club for ex-Seesmic users, but then lost out to newer platforms in activity terms. Kosso is right to open it up via intelligent API usage and allow other platform’s content into Phreadz.

Post-golden age, they need to refresh their appeal and this requires management not of technology, but community.

However good TinyChat is – and like Tom, I’d be interested to try it – it will if it’s any good, rise and then fall. It’s that peculiar aspect of humanity which decides en masse that one band, brand or website is cool while another similar one sucks. No accounting for taste..

Just because you use something for a while, doesn’t mean you will always use it. Just because some people can use video effectively, doesn’t mean everyone will use it. Why don’t more people use video calling on their mobiles? It’s not just cost – audio and video are very different.

Perhaps the biggest mistake of all these sites is to over-estimate the power of video.

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This thing has 2 Comments

  1. Posted 7 May, 2009 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    I think eventually we'll all stop using Twitter too and move on to the next thing.

    I wonder what we'll be enticed in to doing (and building) next? 🙂

  2. Posted 8 May, 2009 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Nicely put Dean.

    Humans are such complex creatures, and they come in such a wide variety of flavors. Community sites are very tricky, balancing all the different beings inputs and actions, I think strong leadership and vision are important elements needed for success. Phreadz and Seesmic have a different combination of both those elements. I hope all these nascent communities continue to evolve and succeed.

    Video as a form of personal communication is going to be part of our life as we stumble into the future I am sure of that.

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