Many people bemoan the fact that we have to keep moving from platform to platform, as they evolve from person-to-person communications tools to megaphones for big media.
Take podcasting, for example:
I first heard of podcasting back in 2005 from Wired magazine (which I used to read religiously). The cover was very stark and distinctive — it was titled “ The End Of Radio “ — a bullet smashing open an old school AM radio. Reading the article intrigued me — this “new technology,” combining the use of RSS to deliver a series of audio files to a listener was a neat new concept — but the most disruptive thing about it was the thought that this could provide a platform to regular folks like us who have something to say but no channels to say it in. Until the advent of the internet, we are were forced to live in our little local bubbles, maintaining connections with like minds funneled and filtered by broadcast radio and TV networks.
Podcasting (and later YouTube) was the great democratizer — I foresaw how this could conceivably connect every human on the internet to every other human through audio and video via the internet. This, I believed, was the ultimate positive change that the internet could effect on humanity.
This is what made it seem so exciting and revolutionary when a tiny meetup group of early podcasters, myself, Robert Scoble, John Furrier, Michael Butler, got together to map out and conquer this new world. Everything was full of possibilities. But then the platform cycle hit.
What is the platform cycle? The constant churning to new platforms as those platforms are inundated with “head” content. Their transformation from tools to help connect people to a tool that helps “big media” spew its content to the masses.
- Regular people invent a platform that helps connect humans to each other, without judgment or censorship.
- They started using the platform and connecting.
- The platform gets popular.
- It starts to capture the attention of big media corporate content providers.
- They started to flood the platform with their content, virtually drowning out regular people’s content. Their bigger pockets allow them to create more content at a higher quality level, leveraging already well-known content creators. Of course, the branded, already well-known head content starts to draw audiences.
- This flood drowns out all but a few hardy souls who had built resilient audiences.
- Eventually, this draws the government’s attention who intervenes in regulating the content, further eroding the people’s share of the platform. These government entities could be domestic or foreign. This causes regular people to be heard less and less on the platform.
- Finally, sick and tired of no longer being heard on the platform, the people move on and create a new platform, and the cycle begins again.
This happened with blogs, podcasts, video hosting, and microblogging sites and continues to happen — with people creating new platforms, leaving old platforms, and it starting over again.
Witness people leaving Twitter and Facebook, and YouTube for Parler, MeWe, Rumble, and Bitchute. Witness GenZ moving from Facebook to Instagram to Snapchat. Witness people fleeing Reddit for 4Chan, 8Kun, and others. Witness bloggers moving from hosted WordPress to Medium to LinkedIn to Quora and beyond. Then the cycle begins anew.
Here is a challenge for you, enterprising startup founders: figure out how to create a platform for the people and keep it that way.
Make the Internet Person 2 Person Again!
Originally published at https://hellofuture.co on January 11, 2021.