Since the Internet proved it could attract a mass audience, companies have been looking for ways to lasso its unlimited potential. However, during the short history of the Internet, no company’s lasso has proven big enough. AOL tried to reign in the potential by sending out trillions of CDs promising hours of free dial-up access. The strategy worked for a while, but in the end, free choice and competition burst AOL’s lasso by proving people had mail elsewhere.
More recently, social networks have been hiring the smartest minds, coders and magicians they could find to construct intelligent lassos. MySpace burned out fast and bright in a twinkling animated GIF of glory, but the system it presented promised a new, possibly sustainable model.
Facebook entered the game and learned from MySpace’s mistakes. They kept more control of their visual identity and provided a more neutral way for people to claim their online presences. They extended their product beyond the walls of their garden by passing out ‘Like’ buttons that we can install at will on every bit of content on our blogs and personal sites. The ‘Like’ button became the political yard signs in Facebook’s campaign to win the Internet.
Google took note of Facebook’s intelligent lasso, and put an army of Googlers on a crusade to build a bigger, more Googley lasso. Google has already conquered the Internet’s search game, turning itself into a non-ironic verb in the process. ‘Google me, dude.’
But Google’s success at building the world’s best search lasso didn’t quell their ambition to build an ever better lasso. With the Internet now segmented, total control and gatekeeping of it’s information, memes and all the cats is proving to be an intense battle.
Startups emerge overnight that win legions of dedicated users, and threaten to offset the delicate balance of corporate Internet ownership. Instagram gains millions of followers in a matter of months and becomes a billion dollar asset.
Facebook swallows the photo-sharing asset, and must not find a way to incorporate the intelligence of Instagram (and whatever intelligence they buy) onto a working part of their new Internet lasso.
Meanwhile Google is scheming to not be out +1ed at their own game. They are quickly iterating their own product Google+.
While Facebook and Google see each other as mortal, virtual e-enemies, I see them, as a consumer of their products, as serving two vastly different needs. Facebook is the tool that organizes my inward facing life, friends and family. Its Timeline marks the roller coaster of my personal life. Google+ is proving to be about connecting with EVERY ONE ELSE. Google+ represents the outward facing world, the people I haven’t met yet. Potential audience members. Potential employers. Potential partners.
For now it makes sense to keep my accounts with both Facebook and Google+ active. They serve two distinct needs for me. However I think in the future, that connecting with the larger world, and the people you don’t know yet, but perhaps need to to accelerate your personal arc, will prove to be the more valuable service.
So for now I will keep all social media lassos twirling. And I’ll judge their effectiveness as this crazy rodeo called the Internet evolves into a bull.Tweet
Followers of this blog know that I like to try out all new platforms that come out. I signed up for Google+ as soon as it became available. However I didn’t move much beyond the basic setting up of my profile. Starting in April, I’m going to focus on using Google+ as my ‘social media point guard.’ I will run all of my digital offense through Google+. I’ve got a lot of digital properties that I am active with, but outside of my personal website, there is not one location that serves as a hub for my online activity. I will attempt to turn Google+ into the hub of my online activities. Maybe it can be THE thing that unites my various blogs, products, projects, platforms, etc.
You can follow me on Google+ here.Tweet