Zuckerberg's "Second Law" And My Vision For Social Media

Nick Carr takes offense to Mark Zuckerberg’s "second law of social media" which Saul Hansell describes as:

“I would expect that next year, people will share twice as much
information as they share this year, and next year, they will be
sharing twice as much as they did the year before”

Nick ends his short post with the following point:

I’m troubled, though, by the implications of this exponential growth in
our release of intimate data. I mean, aren’t we all pretty much tapped
out already? Think forward a few years, and imagine the kind of details
we’re all going to have to disgorge just to satisfy the demands of
Zuckerberg’s Second Law. Shall no fart pass without a tweet?

I think Nick is missing two key points. First, I read Mark’s comment as talking about all of us, not just what Nick or I share. So it’s not that I’ll double my output next year (although I do think I’ve been doubling each year for the past five years), it’s that all of us together will share twice as much info next year as we in the aggregate have shared this year.

The second point is that sharing is not limited to blogging and twittering. It includes posting photos to Flickr, like the 82 photos that Obama’s photographer David Katz posted the other day. It includes videos we upload to YouTube, music we post to Tumblr, quotes we like that we reblog, sharing our travel plans on dopplr, uploading our transactions to wesabe, posting our stock trades to covestor, and many other forms of social sharing that are too numerous to outline here.

We are just at the start of the social media revolution and this is not about twittering farts. To suggest that is trivialize an important societal change that we are undergoing. As I’ve said before, my vision for social media is really simple:

every single human being posting their thoughts and experiences in any number of ways to the Internet

I think it’s going to happen and Zuckerberg’s law is in line with my thinking about how we are going to get there.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Randy

    Well argued on both parts, and i did admire Nick’s elegant turn of phrase at the end of his post. But I’d say choice and saturation will rule the day of how much media and how social we care for it to be. many will double per annum. many will simple get to new equilibria. if I choose to use some of my US average 240 minutes of TV going more social, or making that media more social in the hulu age, then super. if I choose to read a book and devote 10 minutes of that to a social review on amazon or a social book club, then have i bifurcated the media from the social part — does reading the paper and not blogging on it take from the 100% CAGR in social media bogey? anyhow, it scales, and i’m happy to do my part. Off to read the dead tree paper non-socially and then do some social watching quasi-online football. a split day, but i’ll count it. But the point you make stands very well.

  2. brooksjordan

    I know that that’s how I use social media, but I’m wondering out loud why people everywhere would want to share their thoughts and experiences with the world – what would motivate them internally to do that? – and what will it mean for the world when they do?

  3. curiouslypersistent

    A fair point regarding the rising number of people sharing, but I can’t see individuals continuing to share extra information above and beyond a certain point (a unique point for each person).With reblogging, retweeting and so forth, the noise becomes far too loud and the signal becomes list. Power users may be able to mentally filter out the 50th reposting of an original thought, but the average person won’t be able to

    1. fredwilson

      I think persistent social search will fix all of that

      1. TimWalker

        It reminds me of the newer methods being pursued in many branches of science — big-iron computing rather that Newton-style elegance of concept.In this comparison, older communication styles — a handwritten letter, say — are Newtonian, whereas persistent social search, smarter aggregation, and so on are big-iron approaches.

  4. Ori

    I think that when we look at TV reality, Twitter and so on, we are sharing today information that a few years ago would be considered very private and only few visionaries would predict that. Therefore, I think that predicting the future of social media is very tough. I am sure that people will find a way to take the noise (or most of it) out.Smy comments at http://www.commentino.com/orim

  5. jordanmitchell

    I think there’s a 3rd point he’s missing. In the future, the effort involved to share will diminish such that (at some point) it will take half the effort to share twice as much. More passive than active.As for the signal/noise issues — which will only get worse — I think the next important stage in social search will center around more intelligent filtering and summarization (perhaps using a combination of social graph and behavioral) rather than indexing. Also more passive than active.

    1. fredwilson

      jordan – i totally agree with both points. this is exactly what is happening.

  6. Ed

    “To suggest that is trivialize an important societal change that we are undergoing.” Agreed.And the one who does, who tries to put individual’s voices back in their throats will endure a merciless Tea Party.I think also, that Zuckerberg’s Achilles heel is his passive-aggressive brashness; a defense common to the young, regardless of intelligence, creative freedom,and accomplishment, when forced to entertain incalculable critiques.

  7. BillSeitz

    Fred’s mitochondria are having a bad second.

    1. fredwilson


      1. BillSeitz

        Well, one way to keep sharing more and more data is to generate data that is more granular at the (a) physical and (b) time dimensions.

  8. martinowen

    Neal Stephenson’s new book Anathem suggests the syndrome “Attention Surplus Disorder”. Made me smile.

  9. gregorylent

    did you ever hear the phrase, “the akashic records”? http://www.google.com/searc… … it is the compilation of all thoughts that people have had, in subtle form, readable by anybody with a subtle enough mind.the concept is ancient.of course it will happen in the “real” world, because said world is just the out-picturing of what the mind can do.

  10. TimWalker

    You’ve nailed it, Fred. It’s very easy for those of us who spend our days inside the social-media sphere to forget how much “greenfield” there is for development in the world. *Most* people still don’t even know what Twitter is, much less use it heavily. Heck, I tweet heavily and use Facebook regularly, but have never posted on Flickr. So it goes.There’s lots of headroom left before it’s all farts, all the time.

  11. Andrew Warner

    Have you noticed that Zuckerberg isn’t sharing anything?Why is it that the people who want you to share everything on their sites are the biggest hiders?

    1. Derek Kreindler

      With all due respect Mr. Wilson, I feel that your vision is too optimistic by half.I think it’s easy for those of you who spend your days inside the social-media sphere to forget that a lot of people a) do not use social media b) have no interest in it.Abdi in Mogadishu is not going to be blogging about his experiences in war-torn Somalia. He is probably going to be looking for his next meal or defending himself from rival clan attacks.I think that the notion of privacy is an issue that hasn’t come to the forefront yet, but will emerge in a big way as social media hits critical mass. You will see a backlash against social media for this very reason.Before anyone labels me a “curmudgeon”, I blog, I use facebook and I’m very interested in technology. But the pendulum will swing the other way eventually. As someone who has grown up with the Internet, I am very comfortable with these technologies. But if I knew the implications of what I post on facebook and the content I post on my blog when I started out, I would have been MUCH more guarded.

    2. fredwilson

      HmmYou’ve got a point thereIf you want to talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk

  12. Blaze

    Andy Warhol saw this future. His time capsules were basically this (with a classic 1950s era implementation):http://www.warhol.org/colle…Newer technology makes media easier to index and share than the cardboard boxes, but the underlying motivations are similar. And no matter what Zuckerberg does, he’ll never be as cool as Andy.-B

  13. isfan

    I agree entirely with you, possibly for different reasons. Our family takes a significant number of pictures via several digital cameras and I shoot lots of video with my HD Canon HV20 camcorder. Less than 1% makes it online mostly because it is still time consuming, especially if I want to post to several places (fb, flicker, twitter, blip.tv, youtube …). Once I can EASILY post directly from my cameras, the output of media I share will easily go up by an order of magnitude. I may not create more but I will surely share more. This might be a simplistic view but it also seems pretty obvious.

  14. David Gillespie

    Jordan – bang on the money. And Andrew, you’re absolutely right about Facebook, it isn’t “share more” it is “share more with us”. I do not genuinely believe Facebook is going to remain the be-all and end-all, though I do think it catapulted us down the social runway. They continue to play platform wars, and moves like Glue or Google’s Chrome make the platform irrelevant; that is the exciting stuff.As an aside, can we perhaps all agree the web, from now on, is inherently social, and referring to social media is akin to referring to the movies (moving pictures remember) as The Talkies in the 30’s, when it was finally commercially viable (not to mention reliable) to synch image and sound. I fee like that is where we’re at right now, and while it is understandable that we seek out terms to define what this “otherness” is, I think we need to move beyond digital being a “thing”, and stop talking like social media and the Internet will ever be separate things.Complete tangent I know – but am I wrong? Thoughts?

    1. fredwilson

      Wow. Great comment. I reblogged it at fredwilson.vc

    2. Marc Vermut

      Completely agree. It’s totally in line with the incessant need to name new “versions” of online behavior, like web 2.0 or gov 2.0 or social media. Better we ascribe names to activities and ecosystems that are descriptive (Jeremiah Owyang is a practitioner with terms such as “curated media” even if I don’t always agree).