The end of the semester seems like the perfect opportunity to look ahead and explore what might come next. We’ve examined the social networks that we’re familiar with, looked at sites that encourage user generated content, and imagined what the implications of dating and gaming sites might be for real world relationships. Now, we should take what we’ve learned and a tell a story about what the future has in store.

At this stage, I’d like to leave it fairly open ended. We could take a sci-fi approach and create something dystopian, extending and exaggerating some of our fears about surveillance, homogenization, and the demise of quality cultural production. Alternatively, we could keep our feet more firmly planted on the ground and explore companies that are being developed at tech start-up incubators like Y-Combinator, BetaWorks and TechStars. We would likely be able to interview mentors in those programs, as well as some of the budding entrepreneurs. We could use their insights to drive our analysis.

I cried when I had to switch to Facebook. Not really, but I was a diehard MySpace fan until the fall of 2008 when I moved towns and realized everyone there used Facebook. I couldn’t figure out why the generic Facebook layouts and lack of personalization beat out the many graphical and musical capabilities of MySpace. I am actually an avid proponent of minimalism, so the Facebook layout does have a certain appeal in that sense – it is simple and systematic to use. But for the average teenager who will fight to the grave for his freedom of self-expression, I found it an odd transition. Facebook executives say MySpace and Friendster failed because of poor management and the inability to control the amount of spam and irrelevant advertisements users received (see some of the failures here). MySpace also lacked a coherent organization system along with having chronic difficulties in sending messages (CAPTCHAS, links marked as spam, etc.) Facebook obviously had a better design which was more user-friendly and improved regularly. But what would make even Facebook better? What is the next generation of social media? Read the rest of this entry »