Once upon a time there was a World Wide Web where the information was free and people interacted with each other without needing to fill out forms, register or install new software.
But this Web was too simple for the applications that needed to know who you are. And thus, user registration spread across the Web.
Then, people realized that you couldn’t simply run all these sites for free. Now that we could identify you, we ought to be able to get you to pay. And thus, the paywall was born. But all these walled gardens behind tall paywalls tended to wither–too much information simply yearned to be free. And so advertising, transactions and virtual goods grew.
A few years ago, a few sites realized that even user registation was too much of a barrier. Only a few sites like Facebook could get away with it. Otherwise, most people couldn’t be bothered–and most of the content was freely searchable through Google anyway.
One of the amazing things with “social applications” — be they on Facebook or through mobile apps on Android or iPhone–is that they decreased the barrier for accessing interesting content. Games and applications simply appear on my device or my web browser without all the hoop-jumping of the past…
But I’ve sensed another shift underway. I’m going to call them social walls. These are the social apps you’re asked to install that don’t do anything new that the Web didn’t already do–and may even take away from the interconnections of the Web. You know, the “social news readers” that get in my way every time I just want to follow a link to view news on Facebook.
When you add new steps or complexity, there’s got to be a good reason for it: like a genuine need to differentiate identities. But I do not need an app for the equivalent of every website on the Internet. Savvy?