Yesterday, I did something that suggested to me that we are at an important tipping point in the psychology of Web 2.0 adoption. Within an hour of hearing the news of Facebook acquiring Friendfeed, I signed up for the latter, using my Facebook login info. I'd known for a year that Friendfeed is a great dashboard service that integrates your social media presence, but I had not joined. Apparently I wasn't alone. Friendfeed was at one point described by TechCrunch (I think) as 'a great service nobody will ever use.' So how do you interpret actions like mine?The New Adoption ThresholdMy actions (which I suspect were pretty common for yesterday) show that the biggest barriers to adoption these days arise from two questions we ask:
a) Whether the marginal value of a service is greater than the startup-costs of registering and integrating it into your routine and...
b) Whether you think the thing will survive long enough to be worth learning.Keep in mind that for a), supporting open registration models (OpenID, Facebook, Google, Twitter) is not enough: the startup costs of using a service go beyond merely creating and remembering new login info. You must additionally do something nobody can automate for you: integrate the new beast into your routine.The Friendfeed acquisition and my response to it suggests that a lot of people will react like me: only believing in a site's survivability (even if it is VERY good), if it integrates into a larger, more stable ecosystem. In a similar piece of news yesterday, the URL shortener tr.im announced that it was going out of business. Twitter, which accounts for most shortened URL use, picked bit.ly as their official shortener a while back, and after that it was only a matter of time before the mass extinction event began. Another victim of the era of standardization.What both these incidents show is that "social networking in the wild" (SNITW) is finally starting to take off. You could interpret it equally as "domestication of the Web 2.0 wilderness."Acronym of the Day: SNITWWhat is SNITW? It means your identity following you around wherever you go, as opposed to just inside a silo site like Facebook. Think of it as single-logon on steroids, and spanning your entire life as opposed to just your work life.For example, if you go to popular techie blog ReadWriteWeb and try to post a comment, you will see options to post via Twitter and Facebook, 2 of the bigger "in the wild" identity suppliers. Your in-the-wild activity can also feed right back into your in-the-sandbox activity via services like Friendfeed which pick up and re-domesticate all your wild wanderings.Other contenders: your Google ID (which is part of Google's open social model), Gravatar by Automattic (the folks behind WordPress.com), OpenID (a distributed model where you can be your own identity provider, centralizing your life around your blog for instance) and Disqus (which centralizes your commenting life). It's been a long journey. Remember Microsoft Passport?So here's what your social-virtual life will look like in the coming years:
- Source: You will establish 2-3 "base camp" identities via services like Facebook and Google (on average, we consumers are not very trusting, and the B2B world naturally resists monopolists, so it isn't going to be just one)
- Process: Using these 2-3 base-camp identities, you will use services all over the Web (mostly social, non-financial). Many sites will support all major base-camp identity suppliers, but a few will have gaps, which is a technical reason you'll need more than one base-camp. Sort of like those places that don't accept American Express, so you will always need a Visa.
- Sink: Using re-integration services like FriendFeed, you will put your Humpty-Dumpty life together again. If you want to. If the source base-camps represent the "theory" of your life, the sink systems represent the logs of experimental data.
- Pluses: life gets simpler for you and me, worst-case security thresholds start rising as the base-camp identity providers start imposing minimum security standards, anonymity starts to fade somewhat (if you've seen these SNITW sites, you'll see things like people's real names and pictures showing up automatically).
- Minuses: The whole system has far fewer points of failure. Successful security breaches can cause much more damage as a result, and will be harder to contain. Like the electric grid, the co-dependencies between major services can cause cascading failures (we saw a preview of that with the Facebook 2nd order consequences of the Twitter denial of service attack), anonymity starts to fade somewhat.