Late last night I clicked the “destroy” button in the Digital Ocean dashboard that would essentially pull the plug from the bathwater of the “We The Users” website. Within seconds all traces of the site had vanished into the ether. A few minutes later – after re-pointing the domain name – the URL brought up a “something might be a little bit wrong” message in the browser. Something of an understatement – although ultimately incorrect.”We The Users” was never anything more than a prototype. It answered the question – “what would a blogging platform be like, if you could restrict particular posts so only those you see as a friend can see them”. Through doing so, it had to become a walled garden though – something I have often railed against – which probably sealed it’s fate. If interaction with a blog post by a visitor requires membership, they are very likely to walk straight past – I know, because I do.
When the site was very young it survived a baptism of fire – Tumblr went down, and one of the popular people at Tumblr mentioned what I was working on. Thousands of people arrived within hours, and began posting. Remarkably the webserver – and more amazingly my code – stood up to the onslaught. The next day however Tumblr had obviously started re-booting servers, and everybody drifted away again.
If you think about it, Ello suffered the same fate a year or so ago – they were the anti-Facebook darling of the mainstream press for a few days, but then the huge crowds of sheep wandered back whence they had come. The exact same thing happened to Google+ a few years ago – and despite a lot of us shouting “actually, what Google+ has built is far, far better than any of the other social networks”, we still couldn’t stop the masses from losing interest within days and walking away.
I can’t help feeling that the entire “social” thing is over with on the internet – the same is probably true of instant messaging. Facebook ownsÂ social. WhatsApp ownsÂ instant messaging (and admittedly, does it far better than anybody else). I still don’t understand how or why SnapChat does as well as it does – especially given the app is horrendously designed, and the security of the supposedly secure photo sharing system is hopelessly flawed.
If you were a member of “We The Users”, it was fun while it lasted, wasn’t it? I’m sure the internet will belch forth a similar platform in years to come – they seem to come along like busses – none for ages, and then two or three at once.Â