Quantum of Social

Dominic Greene.jpg

"This is the world's most precious resource, we need to control as much of it as we can."

- Dominic Greene, Quantum of Solace

Fine, so I'm a Bond geek.  See you all in November.

But, is it me, or did the number of different ways we could share any moment of our lives, any thought we have, anything we read, just... like...  explode in the last few months?

Doesn't it seem like a heck of a lot of venture money going after one single scarce resource:

The two eyeballs in my head, 18 hours a day.

Let's recount.  I'm sitting at a restaurant at a meal.  I can now:

Post a photo of a Shake Shack burger to Instagram, Path, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foodspotting and now Medium, plus perhaps I still use Flickr or a service like Picturelife.  The restaurant might collect those photos via Chute or Olapic.  I can mix the burger photos to make a photo collage on Mixel.

I can get into my opinion about the restaurant on Foursquare or Yelp or debate the best burger in the city with only smart people I let in on Branch...and also Twitter, and maybe Quora.

Someone else will consume that content on any of the above sites, or Flipboard, Pulse, Bloglovin or whatever I cross post to Twitter or Facebook which have both become firehoses of everything, uncurated.

Am I leaving anything out?

I suppose someone could put that burger on a Pinterest board of food as well.

It's really questionable whether this constant capturing, slicing and sharing of my life has any viable business model whatsoever.

The sites that have figured out business models are the ones that built in commercial presences from the beginning, or made the sites more optimal for commercial usage.  Foursquare was always about connecting to commercial establishments--not that they're doing tons of revenue yet, but at least you could see where they're going.  Same with Yelp. 

Twitter has lots of revs, b/c they've been about broadcast since the day they hid @ replies--and when you're a broadcast channel, you're going to get business presence and revenues. 

Some of these other things really aren't about broadcast.  They're about "participation", sharing, and curation.  Perhaps we'll find a scalable participation business model one day, but for now, it's been relgated to clever usage of social media that generates a lot of attention, but never really makes anyone much money.  A lot of folks are finding that social traffic, at least for e-commerce, isn't really converting--and even if it did, those sites aren't really paying for the traffic anyway. 

I'm feeling extremely fatigued at the number of options I currently have to share my mundane life--and question the economic value of chopping up my bits for consumption in hundreds of different venture capital supported subtlely different ways. 

Look, I definitely come from the school of being willing to forgo the exact details of the business plan in favor of building a network or a great product--but I'm thinking big picture economics here.  The attention pie isn't getting bigger and there's only so many ways to monetize my burger photo--and questionable if any of them will ever be cost effective to sell or execute.

There will be winners, of course, but I fear that there's going to be a big race between finding a suitor for your traffic and running out of altitude in your cap table.

I hope I'm totally wrong, because YES, the CMS needs to change in a tablet world that is much more participatory and visual.  Wordpress can't be the answer for publishing 20 years from now.  I just worry that the sales cycle is 20 years to get publishers to change habits, for advertisers to get flexible about creative and for users to evolve 3rd eyes to increase the potential pool of attention.