The Coming Bust of Web 2.0

Michael Hirschorn, who surfs pop-culture the way water-striders move over ponds, turns his beady eye toward the buzz generated by the "social networking" wave on the web. He's underwhelmed:

As a fairly regular user of MySpace an unbeatable tool for tapping into youth culture I can vouch for both the intoxicating appeal of the experience and the strung-out, crispy, crawling-home-from-a-nightclub comedown that quickly follows. After a brief rush of 'friend'-gathering I know maybe half of them in real life I now spend most of my time fending off the same type of spam that used to litter my dial-up AOL account, while ignoring endless ads for the True singles service. The random, out-of-the-blue friend request, one can bet, will soon reveal itself to be a proposition for lesbian Web-cam sex or a mortgage refi...

[MySpace] now is so large 100 million-plus registered accounts that it has almost come to be a proxy for the Internet itself. This is the problem with the social-media phenomenon. MySpace once enabled a remarkable social renaissance: Because of the site's indefinable halo effect, you would answer e-mails you would normally never open, meet people you'd never suffer otherwise ('Bill O’Reilly' is one of my MySpace friends). It was, in fact, not unlike freshman year at college. But what's remarkable soon becomes ordinary. MySpace remains cool thanks to surprisingly deft stewardship by its new owner, News Corp. but nothing is cool forever. And once the tantalizing pull of millions of people you could possibly be best friends with wears off, you're left with some by now pretty ordinary functionality: blogging; instant messaging; photo, video, and audio uploads; networking tools. Thanks to the inexorable process of Web innovation, such stuff goes from 'OMG' to 'Whatever' in no time flat.

The cool kids are already moving on. And if Hirschorn knows anything, it's where the cool kids are.