January 24, 2008

Taking Technologies for Granted, and the Resulting Quiet

Yesterday, while browsing updates on Twitter, Frederic Lardinois of The Last Podcast asked an interesting question saying, "I noticed that the Facebook hype seems to have died down quickly. What's going to be the next big 'it' thing online?"

While I can't speak for everyone, I see the lowered discussion around Facebook as part of the cycle which occurs when a technology transitions from being new, and therefore exciting, to instead, being accepted and absorbed into daily use. Oddly enough, in this phase, you're more likely to see news about these accepted technologies when they surprisingly stop working, or go down (in the case of Web applications).

That's why it's not too uncommon to see bloggers, from A-Listers like Robert Scoble and Steve Rubel, all the way to B-Listers and below, like me, seemingly change their tune - gravitating like moths to one technology, and then buzzing on to the next and the next and the next. One day it will be Twitter. The next day it will be Facebook. Then TechMeme. Or Google Reader. Then Joost. Then Seesmic, Pownce and so on.

For me, I was doing some thinking about how you've seen that here - and there's no doubt it's happened. I used to talk a lot about how I use iTunes. During my off-work hours, there is very little time when on the laptop and iTunes isn't running. I also don't talk much about my TiVo, where I used to. I don't mention FriendFeed as much as I once did, nor LinkedIn, Facebook, or standard Mac apps. Why? Simply because they work, and they are part of my every day technology intake.

Does this mean these services are less valuable than today's flavor of the month?

No, of course not. But they are not as shiny as they once were. They don't have the newness factor and intrigue they did when they were first discovered, and by the time you've been using a product for months or even years, it can seem that everything that needs to be said has been said. Is Facebook still inhabited by zombies and are people SuperPoking too much? Yes. That didn't change. Do my iTunes updates still automatically populate Last.fm? Yes, of course. Am I still using Google Reader at a rapid pace? Yes. But I won't mention it unless I set some new record, they add a new feature, go down or lose all my feeds.

So while Scoble and others are occasionally lambasted for having something approaching attention deficit disorder, it's not necessarily a medical issue. And that doesn't mean those developers working hard on the next generation of iTunes, Google, and Facebook have the option to slow down. It just means they're entering a new, more mature, quieter phase. As bloggers, we're not necessarily always looking for the "next big 'it' thing" online, but if we find it, there's no doubt we'll tell you.