I keep hearing about how Facebook and Twitter are changing the way things are done. From drafting a constitution to fixing Summerfest, these “new” sites are making new things possible… sort of.
But really, this is nothing new as far as the web is concerned. A typical web site from 2002 could easily have solicited feedback on how to improve things within a country, or a festival, or your own home town. In fact, some did, but there were some crucial elements missing, including critical mass, and reputation.
Critical mass in that there’s more people online now, being more engaged, thanks to sites like Twitter and Facebook. For the typical non-nerdy type, Facebook is the simple way to be online and connect with friends, and family, and brands. Twitter is pretty similar nowadays, though maybe slight nerdier, and even that is debatable now.
When I talk about reputation, I’m talking about the fact that with Twitter, and Facebook, you very often have a well formulated idea of who someone is. It’s typically built by looking at what the person has to say, and to who, and who has things to say to them. Their reputation. Their identity.
In the olden days (1997-200?) reputation was often tied to your blog, where you did your talking and where people talked back to you. (I’m sure similar things could be said of forums, etc. but I’m not convinced it’s the same thing.) I know there have been anonymous bloggers, but if I look back at the people who were blogging at the same time I started, I knew those people, and I trusted those people. I read their blogs daily, and they read mine, and we commented on each others posts, and we had conversations. It may have been a fixed point in time which created this situation, and perhaps it is an illusion… I don’t know for sure.
But the point is, I think what Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora, and other sites have going for them nowadays is this element of trust and reputation they give to the users. These elements (should) allow a conversation to happen without the doubt that can often exist online, where you don’t know if a dog is a dog or a guy pretending to be a dog.
I’m still thinking through this whole idea… but would love some feedback on it.