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@Maggie -- Of course Facebook is not a substitute for a focused dating site. The post was more about how social media is prompting dating sites to add features, because people have come to expect them. And from that example, we can extrapolate that every business could be impacted by raised expectations thanks to the dynamics that social media tools have created in the marketplace, ever direct response. But, and I liked your note about that, you can tell a lot about a person just by observing what they do - their online behavior.

@David -- the world wide web acts as an accelerator. It allows fast distribution of ideas and gives people a platform to build on them. I will be writing about community and co-creation approached. That is where we are now with a twist! Which I will get into on Sunday :)

@ Carolyn Ann -- really good statement here "And then that dreaded moment comes: you realize that you can no longer do wholesale upgrades. You have to maintain compatibility with prior stuff (MS), or you lose the definition of what it is you actually do (Yahoo). And that's when you're vulnerable to the next upstart." It's easy to risk when your head (or money) is not on the line. Human nature has a built-in resistance to rapid change factor. And people get addicted to thinking that success comes in only one flavor. Much broader conversation, this one. I thank you for providing the spark! As for meeting people you want to be with is hard, very much so.

I'll not mention my opinion of those hideously manipulative and utterly shallow dating sites. :-) What I will mention is something you identify: once you're top of the hill, you keep doing the same thing (well, it worked before, di'n't i'? [a vernacular of "did it not"...] ) and then some young upstart comes along and changes the rules!

(Let me see, who falls into this category, right now: Yahoo, and Microsoft?)

The low cost of entry for businesses on the Internet traditionally implies a high profit margin, which can some get venture capitalists producing funds in unseemly quantities. This reduces the effective cost of entry even further because it's not your own money that's on the line. And then you get to change the rules - for a bit.

And then that dreaded moment comes: you realize that you can no longer do wholesale upgrades. You have to maintain compatibility with prior stuff (MS), or you lose the definition of what it is you actually do (Yahoo). And that's when you're vulnerable to the next upstart.

Traditional industries used to take decades to reach that point - the high cost of entry for a global manufacturer, coupled with some economic straight-jackets, and voila! Obsolence in the market place wasn't that big a deal. (It's why free trade is so often scorned.) Now, of course, they can be toppled in a few years. Cheap money helps, of course.

An Internet company has to be innovative, and willing to take risks, in order to stay at the front. Instead, we have old-school businesses vying for the attentions of the young, glamorous ones. And when the old businesses take them over - guess what happens? They cease to innovate. The silly money paid for the firm ensures that risk is viewed differently. Rhetoric and literal straight-jackets take over from trying to provide the users with features they'll actually use.

MySpace and Facebook haven't actually done *anything* that can be called new in a while; neither has Blogger. Twitter seems to have lost its darling status, already. Most of it has been of the "here's a new feature" sort. There's a rigorous holding onto the silos. Sure, the features are welcome - who doesn't want to make it easy to put a video on their blog? Or have semi-competent automatic translation? Or whatever the latest so-called innovation is? (Excepting Facebooks' continual, and successful, efforts to point a shotgun at their feet. That wouldn't be so bad, but they do insist on pulling the trigger.) But these are all extensions of the basic idea behind the product.

They're also all social networking, in one generational form or another. But they all hold onto their own core idea, and never seem to make an effort to understand what people want. They rely on the tried and sometimes true "let the new upstart stumble on it" model of business innovation. (And then we'll buy it, unless we've suddenly gone broke, in which case we'll all apply for jobs there.)

As far as meeting people - it's never been easy, and it never will be. Dating sites claim to make things easy, and even dependable! They proclaim that you'll be compatible or your money back. (Since when did love and affection come with a guarantee?) Happiness is all but ensured with their easy to use website that relies on, oh whatever magical ingredient the inventor dreamed up.

Meeting people is hard; and an anonymous database won't make it any easier. One thing the Internet can do, though - it can help you find the deadbeats, and avoid them! And it can help you figure out if the person is awful or genuine. But I don't think a dating service is going to help with that.

Oops. I guess did voice my opinion on them... :-)

Apologies, as always, Valeria, for the length of this little tome. You pose some fascinating questions - and I rarely have much success constraining myself. :-)

Carolyn Ann

I think the salient point is the one that you made in the last paragraph, i.e... that no matter how strong a particular form of media is, there is always a newer, hotter form of media coming in.

Look at MySpace for example. There doesn't seem to be a week that goes by that there isn't some article about how MySpace has given way to Facebook and other sites. There is always a next big thing coming up and one of the tasks of those who market in the social realm will have to be able to indentify and use that next big thing.

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