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Why online interaction is about the people, not technology
Internet and Blogging by
Posted on Sun, Mar 17, 2013 at 18:18 IST (last updated: Sun, Mar 17, 2013 @ 18:18 IST)
I always knew this, but I realized today why the platform doesn't matter, it's the people who do.
Ultimately you can have any number of applications or social networking sites online, but unless there are enough people to interact with meaningfully it becomes merely a technology showpiece: interesting as a novelty but only temporarily.
And I also realized another thing: you can only have meaningful online interaction with people who actually get to know you on a more personal level. Over the years, I've been on more online forums than I can remember and yet, I have only a few online friends with whom I can interact as individuals, not as mere words on a computer screen. Online discussion forums are not optimized for this kind of interaction. They work well as support groups or even general communities, but they could not tap into the need for a deeper level of interaction.
FaceBook initially became a success because it tried to connect real-life friends using a common platform and a means of tracing them (e.g. old school, college, university or workplace). But where it becomes a stream of mere status updates or shares/likes of strangers, I'm not really interested. I guess that's why I don't even consider Twitter as a real social networking tool. Google+ doesn't work as well in spite of having technological merit because there simply aren't enough people on Google+ to make that concept work.
The other thing is, you need a creative platform to form friendships with people who have the same interests as you do. Mere discussion forums don't offer that, while, for instance, photo-sharing sites do. Flickr is a great example of a community driven photo-sharing site that actually works on this principle. Creativity creates positivity while mere discussion communities can quickly degenerate into negative and hostile environments.
Online communities which have nothing to share except the opinions of its members are extremely vulnerable to destructive interactions.
Those are two different ideas at work here: for social networking to succeed, you either need to bring together people who share common interests on a common platform to share their creative work or you need to bring together people who're friends or acquaintances in real life. Mere technological wizardry in a social networking application can only be a novelty - for a while. Ultimately it's the people who matter.
Get people to interact meaningfully and you've got a winner.