This excerpt from a story about the 25th anniversary of the world-wide web with Kevin Kelly, one of the founders of Wired, makes me more optimistic about the future of online communication and collaboration:
[The early online message board called] The Well allowed the users great freedom to start their own topics, to write whatever they wanted to write and had a lot of interesting people, and so it become sort of an online salon or virtual community very, very quickly because we kind of, again, let the users direct everything. And from that experience very early I saw that this was, one thing, a sharing economy. People were just going overboard to help each other in a way that we hadn’t seen in a long time.
And the second thing is, is that almost immediately the virtual citizens demanded to meet face to face. We did monthly Well meetings. This was technology that wasn’t kind of like industrial or steam engine-like and mechanical and alien. This was more organic. This was more human-like. This was more like an Amish barn raising, and that was a big thing for us in shifting our idea of what technology could be itself. […]
Right now I think it’s a little bit of a phase, like an adolescent phase. I think young people tend to do things with obsessions and I think we’re kind of – the Internet was in its teenage adolescent phase and we became obsessed with some of this and I think as this generation gets older, I think they’ll be less obsessed with this and they’ll even out and round out and have actually more face to face interaction than they are right now.
What do you think? Will social media go away? Or morph into something different?
I think that will only happen when the costs (time, privacy, profile maintenance) outweigh the benefits (easy contact with friends and interests).