Facebook har become such a powerful machine that if it doesn’t get things exactly right it feels really wrong. That leaves a door open for Snapchat.
Now that Donald J. Trump is the president-elect of the United States most of us have come to know all about our highly-focused filter bubbles.
When we use Facebook we’re presented with a carefully selected choice of updates from people and media institutions in our News Feed. We don’t see everything from our network, but only the things that the algorithms of Facebook has calculated to be the most engaging for us.
It may feel like a surprise but it’s not. It’s made by machines, not humans.
News edited by people actually seems to be on a retreat. Simply targeting content towards a specific audience is not as effective and advanced to protect your ecosystem as catering to the individual.
The idea that a newspaper like The New York Times could have one million subscribers and only make one identical paper for all of them seem very archaic in the light of technological advancements of social media.
But as social media increasingly focuses on the individual and very personified experience paradoxically they become less social. At least that’s how it feels right now. We label it ‘social media’ because our friends are there too but it could just as well be called ‘ego media’.
And media where we don’t know or don’t interact with our fellow readers or viewers maybe after all are more social for the sole reason that we’re sharing the same experiences day after day.
So, we have seen a shift away from a community being defined by the joint experiences within a group to communities being defined by the experiences of individual people in a super complex liquid structure.
Well, technology got us here, so we’re counting on it to take us away from this messy intermediary state and bringing us to the next level.
Enter Snapchat 👻
In the frustration about Facebook not seeming to acknowledge its position as the most powerful media in the world it’s become more clear why Snapchat should not be mistakenly taken for a quirky small player. As young users are flocking to Snap it’s probably the biggest threat to Facebook there is.
In technical terms if Facebook is starting to feel more like a negative in the electrical polarity then Snapchat is starting to feel more like the positive pole. Soon they will have new funding to accelerate this.
And maybe the simple reason is it’s not fueled by machines, but by humans.
If you remember the Luddites that went about to crash new machines because they were taking away their jobs. Well, with Snapchat it’s the other way around. Humans are joyfully taking control of the technology and letting the machines work for us instead of the opposite.
There’s no algorithm to optimize and please us. It’s just people communicating with people. And for professional media wanting to be part of the fun, they can’t just out pay us as they will have to be accepted to get promotion.
Stories can’t even go viral because they disappear for ever after a few seconds. They don’t even allow links to other stories which mean we’re not getting shoveled to another place like a simple transactional product as on Facebook.
Everybody is forced to think and create their own original stories. Even with the revolutionary selfies. It’s actually pretty hard work. Almost like in the real world.
That doesn’t necessarily mean there will be no fake stories or filter bubble trouble as we’ve seen with Facebook. But within Snapchat stuff like that can’t be accelerated or go viral because we can’t share stories. They don’t keep score of likes and comments that can make any story look true as we know from Facebook.
While the Facebook algorithm is constantly adjusting the selection of content without us knowing how or why; we’re doing that on our own with Snapchat. It’s tempting to call it the new version of the model used by The New York Times: You could have one million friends on Snapchat if you’re doing great, but people will always just get the same story at the same time.
It’s a very shared experience that should boost the sense of community.
It’s like we’re in control. As if we’re taking advantage of the technology and not the other way round.
It comes with a price in the shape of much harder storytelling. It’s not just a frictionless and numbing experience as with Facebook. But much like in the physical world — stuff that has impact is often times also quite complicated.
Actually Snapchat feels more like a vibrant and sincere bubble created by real people instead of hard data.
If someone dare call that kind of bubble just another filter we don’t care. We call it shades 😎
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