Sunday, October 19, 2008

Image representing FriendFeed as depicted in C...

Uncertain times lay ahead for the next wave of websites that tried to strike it big. For a while there, from what I heard and based on the invites I received in my inbox, it seemed like Friendster had it made. I had no idea what it offered but meanwhile, I began reading of another network that was growing in popularity in the US - Myspace. A while later, I began to overhear friends discussing the addictiveness of Facebook. The cautionary tales of the prior two contenders saw me hold off until it became clear that Facebook was the winner - and the critical mass of my friends was established. My restraint was fortunate, as consequently I entered completely oblivious to the unhappiness the introduction of the mini-feed had caused but a mere half-year ago, with the brand new concept of a constant stream of activity immediately normalised (after all, no one else was kicking up a fuss).

Something else had happened to the web while I had been away. Perhaps it was because the types of sites that I visited were different, but those cluttered layouts with flash-based splash pages were gone. Blog-rolls were still around, sure, but were no longer as prevalent and prestigious as before. Did anyone even register for fanlistings any more? After all, it was possible to make perfectly evident to most of your contacts who or what you were a 'fan' of from within your social network.

Clean, streamlined pages now seemed to be the order of the day. Most of them were aligned with foreign-looking widgets that prompted you to 'share this'. The presence of the familiar 'F' Facebook logo piqued my curiosity but, wary from previous experiences with transient internet rituals, I pooh-poohed the other services, convinced that I wouldn't have a use for them. A cursory look at their homepages seemed to confirm my diagnosis; there didn't seem to be anything to differentiate a reddit from a digg from a mixx from a stumbleupon, and delicious, magnolia, furl etc. were simply different iterations of the bookmarking function right? Little did I know that my appetite had been whet by Facebook and new ways of looking at the web had been sown.

Eventually I made my way to the ultimate (for now) news feed - Friendfeed, which in a way epitomises the present paradigm with its consolidation, openness and smart sharing, filtering, rating and conversational capabilities.

Today, in taking a trip down memory lane, I paid a visit to fanfiction.net. The rectangular 'share/save' button at the upper righthand corner of the home page first caught my eye. Stories also have dedicated rss feeds. It would seem that even in the land of fanfiction, social media has made for an entirely different experience for present and future writers/readers. Fanfiction in google reader, alongside mainstream media and blog posts? Who would have thought.
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