Online Together, Alone

Seth Sternberg from Meebo and I walked up the street yesterday so he could have a cornbeef sandwich. He’s from Connecticut, but lives in San Mateo and says he really, really misses cornbeef.

We had a great conversation about hype cycles, the iPhone and the impact its browser could have on forcing other cellular companies to open up to outside applications, and how tired we both were of talking about Google and the secrets to its success.

In the middle of all of this, Seth mentioned that of all the things that are boosting the company’s growth, Facebook isn’t one of them. The reason was because interaction on Facebook is asynchronous. You don’t really interact with folks on Facebook, you read about them. You’re at a distance from them. People only spend 20 minutes anytime they log onto Facebook and since they log on at different times from their friends, they send them internal messages or write on their walls. But they don’t use IM that much.

And in that way, Seth argued, Facebook is just another continuation of the asynchronous Web. We comment, blog, and post videos on our own. People respond, but it’s not real time.

Seth believes (and heck, that’s what his IM business is built around so it makes sense that this is his worldview), that we’re getting to a time when we’re going to start doing a lot more things together. Companies have tried this in the past, tried getting folks to shop together for instance, with little success. But what’s interesting about some of the more recent popular services, like Twitter or MyBlogLog, is that they actually make the interaction more immediate. Twitter is texting for a group, MyBlogLog lets you see right then whose on your blog.

I agree with Seth for two reasons. I think that the more lightweight technology and software as services means we don’t have to fiddle with downloads anymore. And that we’re doing so much online now, that it would make sense to share more of what we’re doing, rather than sitting by ourselves in front of the screen.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.