View Full Version : Where do all these things come from?!

Emperor Ing
2009-04-25, 04:08 PM
We're all familiar with Facebook, Twitter, and that stuff? But one thing's really been bothering me about them. (Before you ask no I dont have an account)

<censored by the Inquisition>

I remember when Myspace first came out, the what I assume to be successor to the online meeting place Friendster. However, it caught me completely unawares. One day there was nothing...and then, half the planet's population has a Myspace account, seemingly overnight. I hear people talking about myspace, 'hey dude whats your Myspace account?' on the news, perverts are using Myspace to find teenagers to...well...you know. And this all happens within a day

Facebook comes out, and we have the same exact situation. Half the planet's population has a Facebook account, while their Myspaces seem to be left in the closet gathering dust now. Suddenly everyone has a 'Facebook' as they call it.
I did a bit of research and apparently Facebook's been around for quite some time, which puzzles me even more. Why now, why, suddenly, out of the blue, literally overnight, this failed site comes out and erases Myspace from the map.

And now we have Twitter. This also came out of nothing. I know almost nothing about it, but its a text-message thingy apparently that, like Myspace and Facebook, got huge overnight.

So now, I just want one quick question answered, where the heck are all these things coming from?

2009-04-25, 04:26 PM
None of them actually came from nowhere or sprung up overnight. I don't know why you think this. :smallconfused:

I know that Facebook was originally intended solely for use by college students, and didn't allow anyone else to join. Then it eventually opened its doors to the public, quickly leading to the massive Facebook of today.

They all start out small and then steadily grow in popularity, often with a large boom some ways along.

What makes these sites so much more popular than other social networking sites, though? That, I do not know. Although Twitter is fairly unique.

2009-04-25, 04:34 PM
You think that's wild, I still remember when cell phones weren't that common. Then, all of a sudden, BAM, everyone had one. I mean, it wasn't really a sudden thing, but it kind of seems that way in hindsight.

2009-04-25, 06:09 PM
Same thing with computers, yeah? Come '96, and BAM! 10% of the world has one. I think that percent is now at 30, but I haven't checked...

Anyway, what Sneak said is true. They've all been around for some time, but certain advertisements, or new features, can cause a boom in membership and usage.

I've never actually used any of these except Facebook, but even then I only made it so my friends would stop bugging me to make an account. It's been abandoned for three years now. :smalltongue:

2009-04-25, 06:20 PM
The time scale in question seems to be about two or three years. I suspect there's some kind of deep human psychology thing involved. We evolved for an environment that usually didn't change its basic nature in any amount of time less than that. Sure, there were seasons and stuff, but that was cyclic and predictable.

As I see it, a thing "coming from nowhere" means "I have well formed long term memories of the time before X, and I have well formed long term memories of the time after X, but I don't have a long term memory of what it was like during the transition." Usually, that just means you weren't personally conscious of the transition. You remember back in the '90s when cell phones were a well known item that most people didn't have; you remember today when cell phones are so common that most people do have them. You don't specifically remember a time when cell phones were 'somewhere in between', because there really wasn't one.

The transition from "rare" to "common" was smooth enough to go under the radar of anyone who wasn't specifically watching for it.

2009-04-25, 06:20 PM
As for facebook, it even started out exclusive to a very small number of colleges, though by 4 years ago when I was a freshmen it was pretty much all of them. I can still remember when it went public. That's about when I stopped paying much attention to facebook.

2009-04-26, 07:29 AM
Dervag. Good job. That is probably exactly right.

Also, MySpace started out as a site for small bands to self-promote over the internet, and there are still tons of band pages on there.

Hey you forgot LiveJournal :smallamused:

Fifty-Eyed Fred
2009-04-26, 11:27 AM
Man, I remember cheese. Once it was something that I didn't eat because I was a baby, then BAM! I loved cheese and ate it all the time. Weird innit.

Seriously though, you just didn't notice Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc until you heard someone talk about it, by which stage loads of people were talking about it. Generally, unless your friends are in the business, by the time they've heard of it and you get the information from them everyone's heard of it.

2009-04-26, 12:44 PM
That's the way it is with memetic stuff like MySpace--you've never heard of them one minute, advocates and fans spread the word like wildfire, and the next thing you know--instant, absolute, overpowering dominance.

Kind of like Chocolate Hammer!


(choking sobs)

2009-04-26, 04:29 PM
That's the way it is with memetic stuff like MySpace--you've never heard of them one minute, advocates and fans spread the word like wildfire, and the next thing you know--instant, absolute, overpowering dominance.

Kind of like Chocolate Hammer!


(choking sobs)

*pats Rutskarn*

Your time will come my friend. I mean, you've been namechecked by Shamus Young FFS! All we need is for Randall Monroe to do an xkcd about you, Yahtzee to be snide about you, and then suddenly Rutskarn will be on everyone's lips (like an especially opinionated outbreak of herpes simplex). Then you'll be popular.

Unfortunately popularity leads to mainstream (*sneer*). It is a regrettable inevitability that you will become infested with emos, weeaboos and teen girls who think they're crazeeee, and you will thus suck. :smalltongue:

Don't worry though. I'm quite happy to raze you to the ground and salt the earth when it all goes wrong and you finally become infested with sparkly cursors, pointless quizzes and facile status updates. Hey, what are friends for? :smallwink:


As for the "Huh, where did that come from factor?" of these annoying social networky things. Watch what the techie types are doing. There are people out there working on solutions to problems most of us haven't recognised as problems yet.

As for why they crop up every two years or so. Well, it takes them that long to percolate down from the tech heads and 'netizen' early adopters to the... let's just call them "the sort of people the internet was originally supposed to be free of" (link unnecessary. You know the type I'm talking about :smallannoyed: ).

More mundanes => lower signal/noise ratio => the decent people move on.