My Vision For Social Media

I don’t have a particularly well thought out road map for investing in social media. I just use the stuff as much as I can and I get urges to do things I can’t do. The rest of our team does the same thing. Then we look for people addressing those urges. Every once in a while we are so impressed with these people that we fund them. That has led to many of the investments in our portfolio. There are also times when we find people doing interesting things and we can’t fund them, like FriendFeed or WordPress or Facebook. We try to use those tools as much as the tools we have invested in because it’s the using that informs.

My friend Robert Seidman, who was one of the earliest chroniclers of the Internet with his Online Insider newsletter, wrote me an email yesterday asking me to articulate my "grand vision" social media. He wrote:

There’s no doubt in my mind that you have a vision for what “social media” is and that it’s much grander than anything that’s currently happening.  I think to some degree I’m simply not thinking as big as you are and so I don’t really see what you’re envisioning.  I’m not suggesting in any way that you’re wrong, only suggesting that I have not had the “a-ha!” moment.

Honestly I am not envisioning anything other than this; every single human being posting their thoughts and experiences in any number of ways to the Internet.

That’s it in a nutshell. Many people will say that’s a ridiculous notion. That not everyone is an extrovert. That most people don’t have anything interesting to say or share. To which I say bullshit. I believe that we are headed to a world which everyone will share their lives with the rest of the world via the Internet. That is social media. It’s a huge movement and we are at the start of it.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Robert Seidman

    A-ha! :-)That is definitely a BHAG. I’m not sure yet whether I feel that it’s a ridiculous notion or not. The thing I love about your blog is whether I agree with you or disagree with you, you always make me think. I’m going to have to think about what that means. My first impression is as grand visions go, that’s a nice one.Thanks for the post. It was also very helpful in understanding better what you’re interested in and why. If it facilitates “sharing”, you’re going to be at least a little interested. I think it’s also creates some interesting frames of reference. Microsoft used to have that “Where do you want to go today?” campaign. I never liked it. Perhaps it would have been better off with “what do you want to share today?” I haven’t really come at my “sharing” from that angle, and am thinking perhaps I should. Lots to think about. Thanks again,Robert

    1. fredwilson

      I am glad you don’t mind my sharing of part of your email

  2. rick gregory

    fred,You consistently make the error that others are like you. Some people simply won’t take the time and make the effort to share their lives with the rest of the world. Some will, but inconsistently or at a low level. Some will be very active in a niche (music, twitter, photo sharing…) but not in other niches. And still others will do share themselves prolifically, through a wide variety of channels. But please don’t insist that because you do something it’s the inevitable wave of the future. The future’s almost never a straightline projection of one trend – it’s a much richer mix.

    1. fredwilson

      I think you misunderstood me. I agree with you that there will be levels of sharingBut the goal of social media should be two fold1) Make it easier to share2) Deliver value for sharingThen we’ll get more sharingFred

      1. Don Jones

        Making things easier to share is a biggie. I just added a new section – Posted Items Pro – on our Facebook page:…The section enables us to provide a more engaging experience for visitors, by sharing resources as links, videos, reports, etc. that people can view right there. It’s a big improvement in convenience for visitors to consume and share information that they’re interested in.

        1. gregory

          and i couldn’t see your link because i cannot get into facebook … without joining anyway, so making things easier to share isn’t really happening yet

          1. Don Jones

            Making things easier is happening for the 50+ million people on Facebook.Our Facebook page is simply for Fb users – a convenience for those who play in that sandbox to gain some value. You could have gone to, by clicking on my name in this blog comment and choosing from among the many ways to connect – brought to you by Disqus – making things easier to share…

      2. Mike Veytsel

        I would agree with 1, user friction is still a major barrier, but would add:1.5) Make it easier to find shared contentI think that’s an even more important problem to be addressed, since the haystack of generated content is growing exponentially bigger but the ability to consume it is still limited by human speed and time. The major challenge, in my view, is creating a way to deliver a continuous, personalized stream of golden needles to users.I would question 2 though. Assuming media was trivial to post and to find, wouldn’t sharing be an incentive in itself, at least for the large mass of users?

        1. fredwilson

          Search has to solve this problem

          1. Mike Veytsel

            You could make the case that semantic metadata woven within and through social media would do more to solve the problem than search on its own. That puts the onus on the publishers to embed context and intent of meaning into content, and for standard makers to have a uniform and distributed way to do so.

          2. Chris Dodge

            One has to be careful with publisher-assigned tags as that would just ultimately just lead to a lot of spam/falsified metadata . There needs to always be peer-review to validate the authenticity of the metadata.

          3. David O.

            I agree, there needs to be peer-review to validate authenticity and it’s interesting to see the evolution of that on youtube. I consider the rating system and view counts on youtube as a makeshift peer-review validation system. If a person is looking for a particular content that is being shared on youtube, how could they find the best match? Well the best choice is the content with the highest rating and perhaps the most views.

      3. deepeshbanerji

        I think the real goal 1) Make it seamless to connect to those like you. The internet should be no different than a party or a conference. The more you put out there the more people you will meet in real life and online

        1. Robert Seidman

          I think this will be one outcome — making it easy to connect to “those like you”. But I hope it’s not the “real goal”.I’m probably an outlier here, but I’m not seeking only to connect with people like me. I love the diversity that’s out there. I am seeking to connect with people whose thinking processes I appreciate, whether they are like mine or not.

          1. deepeshbanerji

            yes, i think what we are all saying is that social media be a Conversationjust a conversation that anyone can hear learn from reply to or join

          2. vickivanv

            I think there’s some danger in people using social media to gravitate heavily toward others who think the same way they do. Without even meaning to, it’s possible via feeds, alerts and readers to focus your attention almost entirely on content that suits your thinking and people who share your beliefs, shutting out alternate points of view. Used in that way, it can be insidiously isolating and narrowing, and that can’t be good for social and political discourse. Of course, used another way, social media is a terrific tool to explore and evaluate a diverse range of viewpoints. But I fear the tendency will be toward narrower rather than more diverse connections.

          3. David O.

            I think that happens naturally, when I stumble on a blog like this I find that I meet people with interesting thinking processes. I think this is because people with interesting thinking process gravitate towards interesting topics. In otherwords birds of the same feather flock together. In this case the similarity is not thinking alike, having a similar opinion or taste. The similarities is based on having an interesting thinking process that others who contemplate can appreciate.

      4. Tien Anh

        I think there is another goal for social media3) Give everyone a flexible but useful story to tell and share. For example, people are more willing to post on comment thread than to post new stories themselves.The story does not have to be the same for everyone. It can be a story about books (shelfari), story about photos (flickr) or websites (delicious etc).People like to congregate around existing content. Social media provide the structure for those activities.

      5. shareme

        Value of sharing is the non-commodity here.. ie the conversation and the tools that enable that immediate conversation

        1. fredwilson

          Yup. Our investment in disqus is most represntative of this theme. But also the @replies in twitter and the reblog in tumblrAs others have said, its the interaction that’s the payoff for the sharingFred

          1. shareme

            It would seem that something like the Jabber XMPP protocol becomes a DMZ transport in this area to integrate different clouds together to achieve this valued sharing.Fro example, you could use to bridge sharing form desktop to mobile as in what Twitter had in Track to mobile client.

  3. JasonC

    I don’t think it’s “every single human being posting their thoughts and experiences in any number of ways to the Internet,” but rather that, “every single human being CAN post their thoughts… to the internet.” As we develop new and better methods for making this happen, more and more folks will come up with interesting content; maybe not everyone all the time, but everyone will have the opportunity. I, for one, don’t envision myself posting all of my thoughts on the net, but I appreciate that I have the opportunity to create and share content in a variety of ways as and when I am inspired to.

    1. fredwilson

      Bill gates didn’t say ‘the opportunity to have a computer on every desk’He said ‘a computer on every desk’Implicit in that is the understanding that not everybody currently wants oneFred

  4. shanedjones

    The problem I see with today’s version of social media is that it isn’t paired well with a private media solution. I would really like to see a service where you can keep a journal of all your daily experiences in a private setting and then easily publish content out to your network whether that be close personal friends and family, professional, or in a wide open public community. Privacy is the hurdle for most mainstream folks. If people become comfortable with their privacy, they’ll be more likely to share publicly.I’m sure someone is doing this well, anyone know who?

    1. Michael Broukhim

      We’re trying to do that at TotSpot for parents interested in sharing about their kids…not sure that privacy is what’s keeping some of my non-techie friends from sharing…but am as close to certain as possible that it is what’s keeping people who are comfortable sharing about themselves from sharing about their kids

    2. Don Jones

      Sure – Google Docs does it in one way – you can keep your stuff private and mark things as Public for your “Shared” folder.

  5. ceonyc

    Correction… everyone will share their lives with whoever they want to via the internet.

    1. fredwilson

      Do you think control over where the info goes is important charlie?

      1. ceonyc

        Me personally? Not really. Do the vast majority of users care? Yes. A huge chunk of LJ blogs are still private, MySpace and Facebook profiles are getting more and more private. The net follows real life… most people just have small groups of people they care about.A shift may come when the media stops digging dirt on people… when we all just concede the fact that we’re all human and imperfect. Until then, people may go “public” but still want to edit that public persona.If you think I’m wrong, feel free to publish your bank account balances on your blog or to Wesabe in public or something… Because I know you, I know that those numbers don’t affect what a down to earth guy, nonassuming guy you are, but let the hate machine hook onto a specific number and you’ll never live it down.I know there are stats I have that I would never put up… but it’s certainly not my bank account. ;)Another example: You care where photos of your kids get published and so do they.

        1. Michael Broukhim

          Spot on…especially the last point about photos of kids…every parent we talk to brings up privacy as their #1 concern.

        2. fredwilson

          Good points on my kidsBut my blog posts, tumblrs, and twitters are designed to be public and go anywhereFred

          1. ceonyc

            Not your d messages on Twitter.And yes… YOUR posts are meant to go overwhere, but most LiveJournal blogs and MySpace blogs are private.

          2. deepeshbanerji

            i think as long as its clear where your content is going to go its fine

  6. Adrian Ionel

    Yes, I think most people will want to share their lives and engage with more people. And one can imagine social media networking capability becoming part of every single piece of software or internet service (like the File – Save function). With users easily selecting what they share with whom. Exciting times.

  7. wmfischer

    When we were doing consumer research on DVD purchasing behavior, one of the surprising learnings was that individuals often bought them as a proxy for self-expression i.e. by having a physical copy of the DVD on the shelf, they could communicate to others the type of person they were by their revealed preferences.Myspace, to my mind, was largely a forum for self-expression that, as the network expanded, developed more utility as a communication medium.In consumer products, brand preferences, are also proxies for self-expression – politics, aesthetics, socio-economic status can all be revealed by a simple tendency to favor one brand over another. Self-expression is a very powerful driver and I think, to overstate the power of this form of signaling.Bill

    1. gregory

      same with apple, bill, or shopping at whole foods… we all buy our identities everyday, unless one is self-fulfilled

  8. donnab

    I must agree, not everyone is an extrovert. This is a must read that shares the advantages of both sides. : The introvert advantage : how to thrive in an extrovert world by Marti Olsen Laney

  9. gregory

    near term ….. the conversation is the blog …. my code words for what i am trying to do, see, get done, beating around bangalore trying to find some web designer guys who have even heard of friendfeed, disqus, twitter, and who aren’t too busy writing code for insurance companiesyou come to the front page, the conversation is already going on, and you happily join in. imagine four or five friends at a table in starbucks, each has been reading a newspaper, or a book, or has seen a cool play, and they are talking to each other, and to each other, about the stuff they have been paying attention to …. we all do this every day at the cafe or the coffee shop, and cannot yet do it online … the closest i can imagine, three or four friedfeeds on the front page, but a lot cooler ..middle distance, …… not every single human being posting, but every single human being conversing, with whomever they want … and, ha, businesses are going to get this sooner or later, forced to, the walmart or verizon friendfeed equivalent … i mean, can you imagine, corporations talking to their customers. it will be unavoidable.long term … the equivalent of global omniscience, meaning, anybody can know anything, or, everybody can know anything, just ask …i call it post linearitythe current twitter thing, here is how it has to scale (that word is bugging me, but) …. so that everybody can talk to both anybody and everybody … all nodes connect to all nodesshould be fun

  10. WayneMulligan

    If you really think about it, Fred’s “every single human being posting their thoughts and experiences in any number of ways to the Internet”, vision shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve. The biggest takeaway I’ve gotten from Facebook has been the concept of “passive sharing”.For the most part, when we use social media we’re making an active decision to share a piece of content with others: uploading a photo to flickr, voting on a story at Digg, twittering, etc. It’s an active form of sharing. But with Facebook, we’ve been engaging in passive forms of sharing. We add a new app, our friends are notified…even with their Beacon program, we buy movie tickets, our friends find out. This is a very passive form of social sharing — it eliminates the inherent friction involved in sharing content online and it will eventually make more people out there “like Fred” (in reference to Rick Gregory’s comment).The companies that continue to eliminate the friction involved in sharing content, bridge the online/offline gap and do so in a way that respects and adheres to peoples’ privacy concerns (good point Charlie), will be the winners in this space.-Wayne

  11. Chris Rossini

    The term “every single human being” is pretty bold….Just look at the tribe that was discovered a few days ago…They’re a part of “every single human being.”What if they will fight to the death to avoid “posting their thoughts and experiences?”Are they to be forced? By who?

    1. fredwilson

      I am not suggesting anyone force anyone to do anythingIts just a ‘vision’

      1. Chris Rossini

        Ok…I think I took you too literally…understood.

    2. tetsuotrees

      Actually, the Brazilian tribe brings up a rather interesting facet of Fred’s vision that isn’t implicitly stated: the ability to have things about your existence uncovered without your expressed approval. The web allows parties to rapidly uncover and disseminate information about previously unknown quantities, which begins the (sometimes long) process of making those quantities known. The Brazilian tribe is a rather cloudy example, as it is difficult to ascertain whether they would have wanted their existence uncovered had they had prior knowledge of both the processes and technologies involved and the potential consequences of not having their existence uncovered. But just as there will always be people who desire a life “off the grid”, so too will there be people with an interest – however innocent – in bringing such people “into the light” so to speak. (I realize the language is a bit extreme.) The recluse may not actively share his life with the world, but in some sense, someone will undoubtedly be doing it for him…

  12. chrisheuer

    Fred – what you are describing is technically accurate – the act of sharing, but if you go deeper, the real insight is that social media is how we connect with other people. Some connections are more casual then others and some share more intimacy then others. We all (even introverts) have a need to tell our stories. We are all social beings being social through this medium…

    1. fredwilson

      alexander had a great follow up post on that topic last nighthttp://vanelsas.wordpress.c…

      1. Stephanie

        I am in full agreement that the evolution will go towards Interaction (intentionally with a capital I) and tighter conversations among smaller communities. I have just finished Clay Shirky’s book “Here Comes Everybody” and he does a very good job providing some explanation and frameworks for social media. One thing he discusses is the continuum of social media, starting with Sharing and moving to Cooperation where people coordinate to get something done (with some folks contibuting more and others less) to Collective Action where a group acts as a whole (with everyone contributing equally – such as social action or mob shopping). Each is more complex and requires a greater contribution of time or energy from the participants, but delivers greater value. And if the value is still greater than the cost of participating, then it is a net win.I think this is spot on – we are looking for ways to interact with people on one of a myriad of ways, and how we interact, the level of intensity, is in large part determined by the topic. For example it might be enough to Share back and forth information about cancer, until I want to take a stand in raising funds to support research which requires a greater level of engagement and a more valuable outcome. Then I might Coordinate people against the cause, or use a website like to create Collective Action.So to me it is about much more than sharing – I consider social media the next extreme sport – “Extreme Interactivity” is what i am calling it.Thoughts?p.s. I will cross post this on Alexander’s post too as I am interested in feedback.

        1. chrisheuer

          I love Clay’s take on this. I have been thinking of it in terms of the new 3 C’sContext – why do we care, whats the purpose of interactionCommunications – sharing, talkingCollaboration – working together towards a shared goalIn writing my book over the last few months though, I have been struggling with whether or not to call it the 5 C’s with the addition of:Connections – who we know and how much we trust themCommunity – the places we gather together where we feel at homeThis thread is really helping to bring this idea into greater clarity, but I would love to hear your feedback on the framework…

          1. Stephanie

            Hi ChrisWe all seem to be revolving around what the key dimensions are.Some quick reactions to the Cs:Context – agree but in the interest of not confusing this with the old meaning of context I would propose using the word Care instead (still a C!). I think that someone has to care about something to be motivated to take any kind of action, sharing or otherwise – and Clay does talk about what some of the characteristics are (although not comprehensive in my opinion) that would make it more likely that at least one person cares enough to take some action, even if it is just sharing.Communications – agreedCollaboration – yes, but we lose the distinction here between collaboration and collective action which i think is important. The Wikipedia example (unequal division of labor with a few driving the bulk of the effort) vs. where everyone has to commit to the same action. I think that is a different level of interaction.Connections and Community – I agree although I think you are considering community in a more virtual sense and i am thinking about it more as location, meaning i can choose to filter my connections also by my location, esp if i want to take it to a real world context.My own personal paradigm has been 1) Connections, 2) Shared Interests (passions, pursuits, needs, life issues) and 3) Location (per above). I think these are the three axes that matter in a social media model. Then sharing, collaborating and/or acting collectively are what we do with that. Does that resonate with you?Gotta run but look forward to continuing the dialogue.Stephanie Sarka

      2. Alexander van Elsas

        Fred thanks. You started the conversation, I just added the interaction to it 😉 We will see more of this in a next evolution of the web. An evolution that will be more User Centric instead of destination centric

  13. Jeff Jarvis

    And I believe that the business/investment opportunity is in those things that provide a platform for that or bring — in Mark Zuckerberg’s words — elegant organization to the social network that the internet (and life) already are.That’s my grand vision, expressed with uncharacteristic brevity.

    1. fredwilson

      Sometimes less is more Jeff

  14. PGuy

    Two points:1. “That not everyone is an extrovert.”I actually think that if people are extroverts they might even be less inclined to use social media. I’m an extrovert. This means I get my energy from other people, from “live” in-person interactions. It’s why I work best in meetings or in crowded cafes, and not in front of a computer or in a lab (back in my engineering days). One of the many reasons I started blogging a couple years ago was because it forced me to practice the written word. It added the accountability of a paper trail and forced me to think things through by myself. To this day, I’d much rather soapbox in front of some friends or a crowd to share my thoughts, ideas, workshop a problem, whatever, but I have also, through my blogging, gotten much better at putting my thoughts down in text. Though I get less satisfaction from it, I have reaped the rewards of cultivating a network through my blog and engaging in dialogues with people, and I like that and obviously see the value in it.2. “Everyone will share their lives with the rest of the world.”I appreciate the power of this statement. My initial reaction was that it was too general, and that people don’t want to share their “lives” via the Internet. But I think you’re right. Though everyone will do it at different levels, to different degrees, depending on their personalities, comfort-level, objectives, interests, etc. on the aggregate that’s where we are headed.Great post, Fred. Thanks.

    1. tomguarriello

      Good to see someone make the distinction between being an extravert and being outgoing. These are two very different things, although the popular use of the term “extrovert” had made them equivalent in most people’s minds. I find extraverts, like myself, eager to gain energy from online interaction as well as RL f-2-f contact. The distinctions will always remain but for digital natives they’re blurring. Outgoing communicators, also like myself, find the online world, especially video, highly attractive as a means of quickly working out ideas and presenting them for others reactions. Just as I found when I started blogging four years ago. Good comment, PCGuy and excellent post, Fred. Many, like Mike Arrington, will argue that you’re overstating the appetite for expression by a factor of 100, but these are likely to have been the same reactions people received at the idea that everyone would want a telephone in their home, or a cell phone in their pocket. Who would they all possibly need to speak with? The answer: everybody else.

  15. efader

    You have a great point. I think they key is that some people want to share their lives with the world. Others just want to share it selectively with certain people only. Social media provides opportunities to do both. Communication is paramount and as long as that is facilitated by social media then the site will be successful

  16. seth goldstein

    hey fred. nice to see you wrestling with the enormity of the social media opportunity. as you remember, tina sharkey (my smarter half) first started discussing the concept social media back in 1998 when she was discussing rolling up social utilities around bill gross’s “” domain. to her, it was obvious that the most engaging forms of media were social.and here we are ten years later, with the advent of wordpress/facebook/twitter, socialmedia has become the emerging mass media. 70 million people are using facebook, almost half of them daily. i think you can fairly describe social media as “active sharing online.” what facebook has done as perhaps the best social platform is to have made the permissions and access controls (notoriously geeky opaque functions in past technology) as easy as using a remote control or a word processor. this is their greatest invention, and because of it they have scaled like nobody’s business.the past year has seen the rise of the application layer, with a number of really interesting products that have filtered the social graph through structured, thematic interactions: slide, rockyou, zynga, sgn, ilike, flixter, etc. this will continue as more and more developers figure out ever more ingenious ways of engaging users in tight social affinities.moving forward, i think we will now see the beginning of native social advertising, that provides a context for advertisers to ask relevant questions and stimulate authentic conversations between friends. this, as you know, is the problem that we are working on at socialmedia.comill be sharing some insights tomw at the iab socialmedia summit in nyc (… and hope to continue this comment thread at the dais…-s

    1. vruz

      the beggining of social advertising ?you’re getting things does advertising help the social media consumer ?advertising is not the next step in social media by any measure of’s important to find ways of converting value into cash, but advertising is not the so-called ‘next big thing’.

      1. seth goldstein

        while i wish it were otherwise, if there isn’t a breakthrough in social media advertising that takes ecpms higher than $1 then social media consumers will have many broken playgrounds

    2. breakdanzer9

      Good to see some straight forward self-promotion going on. If I show up at the IAB Summit, can I have your autograph, too?

  17. Don Dodge

    Every human being has friends…and a social network. In any group or network there is one who is an extrovert and opinion leader, another bunch who contribute to the discussion, and the rest just listen and learn. I call this the 1% rule of social networks.We see the same thing on this blog. Fred writes a thought piece, 10 or 20 of us comment on it, and thousands read it. Everyone benefits from the interaction. So, when Fred says “everyone posting their thoughts in any number of ways” my translation is that the opportunity is available to everyone to do so for free, but few will. It will follow the normal 1% rule or community pyramid of most other social activities.I wrote a blog on this subject 2 years ago, and updated it today. See “Social Networks 1% Rule”…Don Dodge

    1. fredwilson

      i read your post Don and you are right. we see ratios of that sort in all of our social media investments.however, new tools like disqus and tumblr and twitter are making participating easier and i think my goal of getting everyone to participate at some level is possible

    2. Joe Lazarus

      Every time someone references that 1% rule, I think about a stat I heard that says that the average Netflix user has rated over 200 movies. Most sites are able to convince just 1% of the audience to share because they don’t have the right incentives and privacy controls in place for contribution. In order for sharing to go mainstream, sites need to implement incentives that provide a direct, tangible benefit to the person contributing (ie. rate movies and you’ll get better recommendations) or they need to offer more semi-private options to share with a limited group of contacts (eg. people like that their data isn’t shared with the world on Facebook, but just an approved list of friends). Not everyone wants to share their lives with the world, but nearly everyone would be willing to share a lot more if either they had more control over who sees that information or if their experience is significantly improved as a result of sharing.

  18. Chris Saad

    Fred I agree – but I also think its time to start thinking beyond Social Media to Personal MediaI’ve written more about it here: http://chrissaad.wordpress….

    1. fredwilson

      righti didn’t use the word “public” in my one line vision for a reasoni suspect that most of what gets posted to the internet will be private if its easy enough to do that

  19. vruz

    You hit the nail on this one. It’s the times we’re living.Now extrapolate… in 5 or 10 years, what sort of media will people be doing by themselves, for themselves and friends ?:-)

  20. Gordon Rae

    I think you’re right about the social dimension. We are going to see a huge increase in the exchange of information. The question, from an investor’s POV, is, what does that flux predict in terms of the flow of money? How much of the social value (which is potentially huge) can be monetized,and how?

  21. jackson

    I love it when you use swear words. Profanity appeals to me.

    1. fredwilson


  22. vruz

    those who built it paying attention to customers will survive, regardless of ecpmsthose who are in it for life to build meaningful products and services will prevail.if you’re in for the quick buck without the heart put in it you’ll have your playground surprises, it’s always been that way, and it’ll always be the same.

    1. seth goldstein

      yes. but advertising can be meaningful too. not just because it supports content, but also because people express themselves, at times, through the brands that they choose. and people often use commercial contexts for talking with eachother. i have been doing internet advertising since 1995, and while it may have not been a full lifetime, it sure feels like it!

      1. vruz

        um…… expression thorugh brands…. mmmmm let’s say you’re right on this one (though I’m highly skeptical)my solution to you: cut the crap, stick to meaningful, ethical advertisers with solid productsyou will never run out of business. EVERno need to worry about the dwindling $1 ecpms

  23. Joel Kehle

    Fred,I would like to augment your vision. Might I suggest “information about every single human being posted to the Internet on their behalf”?Much of the information conveyed on twitter answers the questions: “Where are you?” and “What are you doing?”This can be done automatically.I can envision an information stack that starts with location data and builds towards more sophisticated levels of information about activities and experiences. Starting with my GPS coordinates at a given time we can figure out that I am at the Arclight Theater in Hollywood and then determine that I am watching Indiana Jones.This has the advantage of requiring zero effort on the part of the individual other than to wear an internet and gps enabled device.What’s also neat is that if this is done in a open fashion it creates a whole new marketplace for anyone to develop new information services. One company worries about GPS data, another about mapping the data to buildings, another to mapping it to movies and so on.I see a flood of investment and innovation in this area as people work to figure out the utility of automatically logging when and where they are at all times.Exciting times.Joel

    1. fredwilson

      Joel – that’s one way to make it easier and that’s a big part of getting everyone doing it.i scrobble all my music listening to and publish it here…i set up the scrobbling once and now it just happens.i call it “spying on myself” but maybe automated sharing would be a better thing to call it

  24. qwang

    Great investment thesis…we’re still in the early days of experimentation–trying to figure out:- which pieces of information should be shared (movie preferences? actual movie purchases? choice of cologne?)- with whom (stated friend? same school? same proximity? other affiliation–same frat, yacht club, nightclub guest list?)- in what way (active notification? news feed? visual discovery graph? recommendation engine while browsing same content e.g. music/movies/shopping?)That’s a lot of different combinations you can make…

  25. Venkat

    Let me the first of the many people you anticipate: “every single human being posting their thoughts and experiences in any number of ways to the Internet.” IS a ridiculous notion and does not represent the economic value of social media at all. That’s rather like saying, at the beginning of the automotive revolution, “everybody driving all the time.” Everybody with a car yes. Everybody driving all the time no. Drastic impacts on the nature of urban life, disruption of railroads, yes.You are extrapolating along an obvious but in the end, unimportant dimension of the technology simply because it is visible. The real game is just getting started, and involves going way beyond talking to doing. From sharing fun stuff to collaborating on serious stuff. From exchanging chickens on Facebook to exchange money in real-world economic relationships. From opining ad nauseum on issues (like I, admittedly, do on my blog) to the deep structure of the information iceberg our world is today. If you thought citizen movie reviews dethroning newspaper reviewers was impressive, wait till you see what happens when social media starts hitting things like workplace email, spreadsheets and databases.When talking about the adjective “social” people have the archetypal image of parties in their head. They forget the single most important social activity we all engage in: work. When social media hits work (and I am not talking Enterprise 2.0), that’s when the pre-game show ends and the show begins.For what it’s worth, here is the beginning of my vision for social media 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      i read your post. it’s interesting to see how you are thinking about this stuff.and i don’t mind you disagreeing at all.the whole point of putting it out for debate is that i am going to learn something

      1. Venkat

        A little more on how I am thinking, this time in the form of some veiled commentary around an infomercial blog post for some positions in our research group at Xerox. If you, Fred, or anybody else can help me recruit for these 3 positions, I’ll be eternally grateful 🙂

  26. pblackshaw

    Quite a provocative post (and vision), and many of the comments are equally provocative. It’s hard not to feel a kinship with the vision, but I still have a skeptical toe on the sidelines wondering how some of this will really play out. In particular, the exchange below w/Seth G and others re: ad models hits a largely unresolved question, and one with sharp edges on both sides of the equation. (It’s just not clear how well social media and ad models fit together.) But overall, the discussion here is spot-on, and it has armed me with a host of new questions leading into the IAB panel I’m moderating tomorrow. Thanks. – Pete

    1. gregory

      they don’t fit together … didn’t for landline phones either … people are going to make less money, which is not a bad thing, just different than expectation

  27. Mark

    I think you are right, at some point, if not everyone, the vast majority of humanity will be online, posting their thoughts.For better or worse 🙂

  28. rfreeborn

    One of my favorite quotes from you Fred – “But once again, what I do doesn’t map very well to what the average audience member does. I think I need to remind myself of that fact on a daily basis.”I think that your vision for social media misses the fact that many people don’t want to or could care less…..robps – lijit needs to work on their search algorithms a bit. I only partially remembered the posting and did a search for “techcrunch meme” and didn’t find your posting from April 27 – I had to use the archive feature and page down quickly while keeping an eye open for the chart that I knew accompanied the article.

    1. fredwilson

      i agree that lijit needs worki think its my blog though, something about the way that typepad archives stuffi try google site search regularly and it’s not any better at finding stuff on my blogit’s very frustrating

  29. Sllecks

    What are the incentives to share such information? Blogging, i believe, is the second step in the progression of social media on the internet. Already, people have begun to unbashfully tried to monetize their blogs… and in turn, completely disregarding the viewer. Either social media should be systematically monetized or not at all. This limbo between author-benefit and reader-benefit has not been properly solved.Should it be a cultural revolution to share all this information without being monetarily rewarded? Will this happen with help from institutions that are financed other ways than ad revenue?

  30. Hugo E. Martin

    Maybe Your vision will stay as a vision for ever , and not everyone might choose the Internet to post. But for the ROW and as something we could (maybe should) work on I would suggest to add something:”every single human has the rights and (access to) tools posting their thoughts and experiences in any number of ways to the Internet …”

    1. fredwilson

      a vision is sort of meant to never be achieved but to be worked toward

  31. Henry Yates

    I would have to disagree “that we are headed to a world which everyone will share their lives with the rest of the world via the Internet. “I would agree that we are heading for a world where people will easily be able to share their lives with the people that they want to share it with. I think this is why Facebook was so successful to start with – they were the first to figure out that being able to adjust your privacy settings and share different things with different people was going to be key.

  32. tuline

    ConvoCast allows media companies to tap the power of the passion of their audience. At the core of the ConvoCast application is our capability to allow anyone – through simple voice expression on any platform – to contribute to the conversation around live or archived media content. To accomplish this, ConvoCast combines the best aspects of blogs, forums, online communities, voice to text and social network syndication so that anyone can easily talk through the web or phone about what they’re passionate about and share there opinion. For the first time, content vreators can take the real-time pulse of their audience, quickly integrate audience-generated content and build greater audience engagement. We’ve started with Radio and newspapers but the platform works much like a voice-enabled twitter…

  33. friarminor

    Much like when I was a kid, i’d like to picture myself as a character, albeit a minor one, in stories i books I read. Helped made the stories interesting but the lessons better understood.Now, instead of just reading, it’s empowering to truly participate, not primarily to dish out content but in the process understand what it is that can be applied to enrich my life.

  34. scott crawford

    How could anyone need more than 64K of memory? How could anyone possibly use more than one telephone…especially a Princess model in pink? Imagining the ubiquitous use of all manner of smaller and smaller and ever present devices and platforms isn’t hard at all. Get your grandmother and your daughter in the same room and have a conversation.But I cloud the issue. What I really love about your post, Fred is this: “…To which I say bullshit.” No matter the topic, that’s always a response worth applauding.

    1. fredwilson

      Yeah, Jackson liked that too

  35. shareme

    Sir, it is not life sharing as we will have a range form those who share all to those who share little bits. It is the conversation that is enabled with new tools around that sharing that is not the commodity and is valuable. Fro example, when titter goes down its not the sharing we miss as he have other such as Jaiku, its the conversation enabled by twitter’s functionality that we miss and want back up.The ah-ha moment is already occurring in discussions n GillmorGang discussion and etc. Fred, you are missing out.

  36. lboord

    Fred, to your vision statement I reply: “Inevitable”As inevitable as the success of other inventions, because in it’s essence it’s a product.Social Media is a better product offering. Look at it from the product perspective, it’s just a better, more efficient product. In my experience ” painkiller ” products are usually unstoppable in their adoption. So maybe a useful angle might be, to what other invention would you equate social media to?Radio?TV?Cell Phone?PC?Movies?VCR?How does it compare in it’s adoption and monetization?Thanks for making me start the week on a thoughtful note.

  37. Jarun Ngamvirojcharoen

    you should look at minkin they are also another PROBE of Carnegie Mellon University like my company.

  38. maryrosecook

    I find it interesting that you chose to emphasise the sharing, rather than the consumption. I don’t know which is the more important, but I do know that sharing is a firehose at the moment, rather than an irrigation system. So, in order to build a good system, it might be instructive to focus on the consumers, rather than the sharers.

    1. fredwilson

      Sharing is the foundation of all social media. The rest comes from what we do with it

      1. maryrosecook

        “Just give us your data and we’ll figure it out” is a very hip concept at the moment. It is difficult to bet against, as it is essentially a “technology will get there eventually” argument. However, it’s also a dangerous temptation to focus on the creators (sharers) rather than the consumers. This breeds corporate mass media (“fuck the public”) and moves away from communities that make their own content for themselves (where consideration of the audience/consumers is paramount).

        1. gregory

          you have got a really good blog, very intelligent, good music too, smart stuff … and no comments, which is why i come over here to fred’s territory to tell you .. which is maybe one of the points of the post

          1. maryrosecook

            Wow thank you so much for saying that. And, yes, maybe it is.

          2. fredwilson

            i agree. great blog and great music. one more blog i need to read!!

          3. maryrosecook

            That is very flattering – thank you so much.

  39. Michael

    I agree. But those thoughts and experiences won’t be available within the flat hierarchy of web pages that we have now. There will be online hierarchies of information corresponding to the offline hierarchies of power.

  40. Antman

    Hmmm, at first this seemed to be rather straight forward and simple; however upon further reflection, I’m not so sure. It appears to me, current perspectives of social networking/media is the perception of those who are already participating.I’m curious to the perspectives of those NOT involved in online social networking/media, still the much larger majority of folks.Why aren’t they comin’?What will bring them into online social media?What do/will they expect from social media?Will they want to share?What will get them to stay?I am watching to see how the non-participants are going to influence things.I hear too often from, too many people: “I don’t get it, why would I want to waste my time with all this (explitive)”I think we’re just scratchin’ the surface.For those here now, I think ya statement; “every single human being posting their thoughts and experiences in any number of ways to the Internet.” is spot on.For those NOT YET here, I’m not so sure.Feels like there is a chasam. I’ll be watching.

    1. hardaway

      Seesmic video reply from Disqus.

      1. jill

        Thanks for your comment -glad I found it(especially because it seems that not a lot of women comment here). I am going to tell my friend whose husband recently passed away about widownet. You are right that a lot of older people haven’t yet and may never get on board with social media…but I don’t think anyone is thinking about them! Fred once put up a Darwin quote that still resonates with me about survival through adapting to one’s environment–which I believe in. The internet has already changed everything and is going to continue in a big, big way.

        1. hardaway

          Once people see a use case for social media, they embrace it. But most tech tools are poorly presented.

      2. gregory

        yes, but age is not the factor, it is awareness of what is

    2. fredwilson

      >Why aren’t they comin’?>What will bring them into online social media?>What do/will they expect from social media?>Will they want to share?>What will get them to stay?great questions and i am looking for those who will answer them correctly

      1. gregory

        anything that serves self-interest will get a foot in the doorway …. if the return is greater than the effort, another step … if they feel better about themselves as a result they will stay … early adopters like it for what it is, next level for what it does, next level, if they hardly have to think about it

    3. David O.

      ” I’m curious to the perspectives of those NOT involved in online social networking/media, still the much larger majority of folks. “” Why aren’t they comin’? “Because they are content with their current form of social networking/media therefore they have no need to change.” What will bring them into online social media? “Their work will bring them into online social media. Peoples’ work has a powerful influence on their behavior, whether they are a professional, laborer, craftsman or student. Work determines how fast you adopt technology and it can force you out of your comfort zone to embrace new technology, new media.” What will get them to stay ? “Once online social media has been integrated into their work flow they will stay.A good example of this evolution is when a company joins facebook and their employees follow. Software companies that create applications that allow other companies to use social media to reduce cost, save time and increase employee productivity will be the most successful.

      1. Antman

        Nice perspective, hadn’t looked at like this. There is some merit to this perspective. Work certainly increased the adoption of personal computers, email, etc.Ya got me thinkin’!

  41. Kate Brodock

    An interesting article in Ad Age “Think Like a VC and Change the Marketing Model” (… that’s applicable to this discussion.I think Fred identifies one of the timeless qualities of entrepreneurship/investing in starts-ups: Find the pain point and fix it.

    1. rfreeborn

      But that begs the question – what’s the pain that’s being solved?r.

  42. Kate Brodock

    I think that’s the point Fred is trying to make…. each pain point he deals with is different, therefore each investing strategy he deals with is therefore different. Since you can’t necessarily pinpoint the pain in some sort of consistent matter, he takes each pain separately, and when a solution is found, he invests.The point is not necessarily what sort of patterns he may have in investing or what types of technologies he finds most interesting/successful on a regular basis, but what sort of patterns he may have in identifying pain points and then finding effective solutions.

  43. Rory Mulvaney

    I think we could all become venture capitalists, in a way. Except that the capital we stake will be our reputations that we stake on opinions that we understand and care about. Then if enough people of good repute in an area think something in particular should be federally funded or voted into law, it will happen. I’m thinking a person’s quantified reputation in an area should increase if their recorded opinions are migrated toward by masses of other people (so your reputation increases if you can convince people about your opinions).People will be federally funded to pursue their proposals, and then the results can be shared for free with everyone, since it was federally funded and it doesn’t cost anything to copy it. Then we shouldn’t have a need for copyrights or patents, since there would already be a system to fairly fund people for their proposals.Besides funding info-product proposals, there would be enormous application for such reputation/trust systems, from helping with legislation, to solving the problem of oversight of classified programs.

  44. JoeDuck

    You have a great notion for Social Media/ The New Web: Everybody plays, everybody wins! I’m not as optimistic as you seem to be that the majority likes the idea of so much exposure to the world, but I agree the participation is going to go up dramatically, often in indirect ways. For example as people tag their photos and data about *other people*, you will have image (and investment info?) portfolios of Fred Wilson that Fred Wilson does not know about or control. On balance this is cool, but it has drawbacks as well. The Privacy ship… sailed long ago and it ain’t coming back.

    1. scott crawford

      In pretty short order, I don’t think we’ll think about all this as social media, just as we no longer think of the computer as a big box for running calculations. At the most sublime, we’ll be creative nomads, pocket communicator at the ready, roaming socially and interacting on the fly, working more as an ever changing kaleidoscope of symbiotic relationships than individuals. You’ll be always on, always connected, always forming connections, organically. Look to nature. All the tedium and drudgery of managing/making connections/arranging teams will be done for you, based on the personal profile you begin at birth, when you’re assigned your IP Address, right down there in the lower left box, next to your date of birth and mother’s maiden name.

  45. David O.

    “every single human being posting their thoughts and experiences in any number of ways to the Internet”I think that’s happening now, in a measured way. What are people doing on myspace, twitter and facebook? majority of them are posting their thoughts and experiences on the internet. These social media sites have made it easy for people to share their thoughts and experience on the internet. I think the future of social media can be predicted by looking at google and how it’s growing and also looking at areas where it is losing money.

  46. dsheise

    I think the “1% are creators” is a backward looking definition (into social media) that will crash. I agree with your vision and believe that we have to admit that it takes time to new stuff to sink in culturally. How much time? Too difficult to tell, but everyone is a creator, we just haven´t found all the ways and mediums for them to participate. If we focus on Antman´s questions we´ll probably figure it out sooner than later.

  47. jill

    Videotaping is an easier form of sharing for most people (vs. sitting alone writing or blogging). Too bad you didn’t get in on Youtube! Most of the time my kids spend on the internet now is on youtube -sharing videos with their friends. Which start up video companies are you investigating?

    1. fredwilson

      NoneThe only one I’ve ever fallen for is youtube which I was obsessed with for most of late 2005 and 2006Fred

  48. ChangeForge | Ken Stewart

    Fred, I love the exploration of this topic, with “social media” as the medium connecting us. In my humble opinion, this is no different than meeting at the local coffee house for a sip of joe and catching up on the latest happenings – with the small exception of leaping geographical boundaries. That is what is so amazing about the Internet – the ability to chat with someone just down the street or half way around the world.Hopefully, everyone does not have to be an extrovert in order to participate. In fact, I would sincerely hope that the Internet itself is approachable – offering layers of interaction to ease the anxieties some may have in participating in the real world. It would allow for a normal mother of 2 in rural America to reach out and find commonality across the globe, or allow a 21 year old the ability to rapidly deploy his brilliant idea without corporate America bashing his dreams.It is this banner of bold hope and broader definition of social media that I would flock to – not the narrow minded view so many disapointly cling to.