Dave Winer on the Bootstrapping Effect

I really liked Dave Winer’s recent analysis of what he calls the “continuous bootstrapping effect” of social media platforms.

Twitter is the current holder of the baton in a series of social media bootstraps, each of which built on what came before. It is not Google, which is a search engine, rather it is what came after MySpace and captured its growth. Extrapolating, something will come along and do to Twitter what it did to MySpace.

It would be foolish to believe that Twitter will not have a successor. And I’m pretty sure it’ll grow faster than Twitter because word of its existence will spread on Twitter. That’s why all this is a bootstrap. You can use iteration N to spread word of N+1.

Google is a search engine. A completely different beast. I don’t buy that Twitter is search. Most of the stuff that you see on Twitter isn’t worth finding. Try searching for something in the news and see if you don’t agree. It’s easy to conduct an experiment.

Dave then presents the following diagram:


Some thoughts of my own:

  • I’d definitely put MySpace and Facebook in below Twitter to make it more complete
  • While ‘the next’ social platform may grow more rapidly than ever, the overall stickiness of follow-on platforms is in question. Just because something grows faster, doesn’t make it any more engaging or valuable: Twitter is undergoing such scrutiny right now. In the end it’s all about sustainable attention: I don’t think an entire business could be built on one viral video (for example). Also interesting to note that the bottom position in Dave’s diagram — blogging — has also had the best long-term sustainability.
  • I agree that Google is a different beast, but the Google platform itself is a masterful model of ‘internal bootstrapping.’  Gmail made significant gains thanks to Hotmail, and Hotmail, thanks to AOL. All follow-on Google products obviously leverage the other pieces of the Google platform.
  • I’m still surprised we haven’t seen a viral app spring-up around voice. The voice social graph is powerful and more personal than text (IMO). Could that be next?
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