Roger Fidle in the book ‘MediaMorphosis: Understanding New Media ’ guides us through the basic steps in the evolution process of a new communication medium and its impact on the existing media along with the future of communication from the perspective of this new medium.
The effect of evolution can be divided in four parts:
1. Root cause of development: As the Internet made it easy to communicate with people around the world, it also became a need to reach multiple people at one time and to communicate in a social environment. Prior to Social Networking websites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, this communication mainly took place over several email threads, which were inconvenient to navigate. Also, the speed at which the conversation took place was unsatisfactory and thus tedious. Therefore, the emergence of Social Media platforms solved this problem.
2. Increase in Quantity of communication: As users started adapting to social media, they started not only communicating with their peers but also with other users of this media, they previously did not know. As the number of users grew, the communication pattern became complex and sharing patterns started evolving. This sudden rise in communication also overwhelmed the new technology at many times. (For example, during the launch of twitter, its servers did not respond to users requests due to overwhelming use of the channel.)
3. Evolution of New Uses of the Medium: When adoption reaches a tipping point, new uses of the medium become apparent. Facebook was initially only a social network to communicate with your friends now has functionalities like Ads for marketers to reach consumers and Facebook insights to monitor these activities. Twitter feeds are available to analyze and understand various patterns of public sentiment and usage patterns.
4. Finally, when the adoption of a new technology is complete, it requires one or more of the following :
i) A new product is developed to aid the existing product
SlideShare allows users to share their presentations with the general public or their friends, Instagram enables sharing pictures, Vimeo lets users share their videos and Foursquare lets users share their locations. All these services allow users to share this content on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. These new applications aid the existing applications of social network and satisfy users needs (In this case, the need to share).
ii) New Services around the same product
New services are developed around the product to aid users desire to integrate their needs into one platform. Hootsuite and TweetDeck provide similar platforms for users of twitter so that they can manage their social networking needs better.
iii) Simplification of technology to enable mass adoption
MySpace and Classmates.com were the initial social networks. There is a reason why Facebook was adopted exponentially, while the uses of these platforms declined. The reason, ofcourse is that Facebook was able to simplify for its users what other social networks were already offering. This simplification not only leads to mass adoption but it leads to mass retention of any technology until a disruptive innovation takes place. Even then the dissolution of use of existing simplified technologies is much slower than others.
iv) Next Generation of Changes (New technologies)
When a new communication medium or technology evolves, industry experts are already thinking of the next evolution step. When social networks allowed sharing only text messages, the next evolution process that was required was sharing images and videos.
v) An assembled complete functional system
Finally, existence of too many technologies to communicate can be cluttered and restrict usage. Therefore, it becomes essential to find an effective solution to integrate all existing media into one, to give an easy user experience. Facebook has done this effectively, by allowing users to share pictures, videos, text messages, and tweets with their friends and the ability to divide their friends and limit sharing. This makes sharing effective for users and thus leads to high satisfaction.