Tuesday, January 08, 2013

[Rant, Tech] OMG Where Are The Pics?

OMG Where Are The Pics?: So some kid named Josh Miller decided to ask his little sister about how she and her friends use social networking in an effort to get a better handle on current trends, based on the (correct) assumption that adolescent girls pretty much rule the market. Josh is 21. His sister is 15. Obviously this is anecdotal -- in fact it is a single anecdote, but it's fascinating nonetheless.

Email and Instant Messaging are dead. Facebook appears to be seen as something of a necessary evil. Twitter has no value. The big winners are Instagram and something called SnapChat. SnapChat lets you send quick photos to all you friends/followers -- kind of like Instagram except it's push delivery to a specific group of friends and it's ephemeral, at least theoretically; the photos disappear after ten seconds. (SnapChat was described as what you use when you really don't have anything to say. Because god forbid you don't say anything.)

What they really want is something like Apple's FaceTime (video calls/chat) but cheaper or free.

Josh, the 21 year old, is one of those college dropout web entrepreneurs who changes games and shifts paradigms and gets all TED-speaky, so he uses this to try to spot market shifts and product opportunities and so forth. I took something different from it.

The written word is pretty much dead.

The joke used to be about not reading books without pictures. Now all they want is the pictures. Limit the words to some LOLspeak captions. They don't even want to talk for free, which they can do with Skype, unless they get a visual too. You can see this in another snarky post from the same site about spelling mistakes. These mistakes aren't typos or auto-correct errors. They are the result of people trying to use words they have never before seen in writing.

My knee-jerk response, as someone who is way older than Josh and his little sister combined, is that this can't be good. But that's not the right response. The fact is the communication develops and adapts organically and there is no sense in claiming that it's bad that a girl who has no memory of the 20th century can't communicate the way you were supposed to in 1965.

I still take a certain kind of perverse pride in that in the 15-ish years of this site's existence (the same age as Josh's sister -- she has never known a world where I didn't have a website) I have never posted a picture. I still get angry when I click on a web page and have to wait while it loads up megabytes of graphics and videos from 10 different subsidiary websites so I can read the 5k of textual information I need. When web journalists I like decide to switch to podcasting, I immediately condemn them for their laziness.

This is, of course, not 15 year old's problem. It's a 52 year old's problem. I will, for the remainder of my life, be ever more an outlier with each passing day. I need to accept that. It is not my world.

Tangent 1: One of the original web personalities, Guy Kawasaki, still cares enough about the written word to provide a great list of grammar gotchas. I link this solely for my own reference. Feel free to skip it as it has no relevance to Instagram.

Tangent 2: David Brooks (another oldster) still managed to find enough actual long-form writing on the web to give out his Sidney Awards. Part 1. Part 2.