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July 10, 2007


I think the niche is real, even if the individuals and sites change; there's always going to be eighteen-year-olds. You can already see people 'graduating' from one social network to another (Myspace to Facebook is the obvious example; Facebook is aspirational for schoolkids - and it wouldn't surprise me if that's driving people *out* of Facebook at the other end of the age scale...).

The sites may change, but the social dynamics are the more interesting bit. Twitter works really well as a backchannel at conferences, when loads of people are in close proximity; I think ultralight presence services like that are, a bit, a solution in search of a problem right now, but they'll definitely find their uses.

Hi Richard
When you say "We should be very wary of projecting ... very recent developments far into the future" there are many examples that can illustrate this point, such as the prediction that London would be covered in horse shit due to the growth in horse-drawn traffic in the 19th century.
OTOH I can recall Gopher fans making similar points about the growth in popularity of the Web in 1993, who similarly suggested that it was just a fashion.
So while we can't guarantee that the popular new technologies will continue to grow, we also can't guarantee that we might not be underestimating their popularity in the future. And I have to admit that when I was promoting the Web in 1993-4 I was envisaging it as the vehicle to provide a Campus Wide Information System - I had no idea that it would become such a success outside the HE sector.

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