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upFront.eZine #1,009: Status as a Service

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Commentary by Ralph Grabowski on Eugene Wei.

Social media was first known as Web 2.0. Whereas the original Web connected us directly to corporations (recall the “No intermediaries!” rallying cry of 2000), the second generation would directly connect people to people. And it did.

And by doing do, we ate the apple.

At least corporations had to maintain a veneer of civility to keep customers attracted, and so living under Web 1.0 we all got along pretty well with one another. Other than the justified snarking that the Wild West of the Internet had been corporatized by intrusive advertising, how angry can you get in having pet food delivered free to your front door?

With Web 2.0, we are in a new micro-era in which even government is woke enough to worry about the impact of social media -- not only in how damaging the impact could be to the populace, but how it might keep politicians and hangers-on from getting into government and staying in power.

Now that we’ve had Web 2.0 under our belts for enough years, the questions of interest become:

  • How do people become addicted to a social media outlet?
  • What causes them to leave an addictive service,?

That we assume social media is addictive is now a given, supported by papers in the last year revealing the extent to which the facebooks of the world go to lure users psychologically into visiting repeatedly. To those who run social media sites, there is no virtue higher than finding newer and more insidious ways of locking users in their dungeons. (I feel that ‘dungeon’ is a better term than the less-innocuous-sounding ‘walled garden’; dungeons are indoors, gardens outdoors.)

People need to be addicted to return frequently during the day, instead of just occasionally, so that they are confronted by as many advertisements as possible, the lifeblood of the Internet.