Thursday, March 4, 2010

Blippy On The Social Media Landscape

This is still Year One of the Internet Age, and social media is an infant. We are in the midst of a great era of experimentation and unpredictability. At their first investor pitch meetings, the founders of Twitter – who seem like geniuses in hindsight – would have been lucky to reach 140 characters before they were shown the door.

In this brave new cyber-world, winners rise fast and others fall hard. People made fun of CNBC's Jim Cramer two years ago when he put the value of Facebook at $1 billion. No-one's laughing now, with Forbes.com estimating it could attract up to eleven times more than that if it lists on the stock exchange later this year. Reaching 400 million users recently – a network size big enough to be the world’s third largest country – Facebook, according to analysts, seems to have reached a critical mass" allowing its momentum to vault it continually higher."

No-one would challenge for the moment Facebook's supremacy, or the appeal of Twitter which turns out to be a great way to keep in touch with public sentiment (which is why politicians and celebrities can't stop Tweeting).

The web has become home to great intimacy. Ten years ago, spending a lot of time on computers was considered proof you didn't have many friends – now it is the opposite. When it comes to sharing and connecting, nothing is off-bounds: thoughts, hopes, dreams, loves, hates, love to hates; things that inspire, amuse or irritate; the seemingly trivial, the grandiose and everything in between.

Does Blippy.com test the limits of our social media endurance? This Twitter look-alike site invites users to upload their credit card details so that their purchases are displayed on Blippy for the edification of fellow members. (I can tell you, for example, that Ashvin, a co-founder of the site, spent $30.55 at a Shell gas station moments before I wrote this.) The site has attracted a fair amount of buzz; Stephen Colbert sent it up last week. There is likely to be some capital in play, and social media analysts are watching closely. The idea is to find out what your friends and your friends’ friends are buying these days.

Blippy.com is an example of the out-there innovation – or weirdness – that is flourishing in the social media space. Let’s see if it finally resolves the question, "how much is too much information?"

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