With SXSW upon us, we thought this would be a good time to consider how the technology landscape has changed. Five years ago, it may have felt like Facebook was slowly, inevitably swallowing the internet. Those of us who remembered the heady days of Web 1.0 lamented the disappearance of the messy, labyrinthine "weird" internet in the face of a handful of safe, brightly-lit mainstream apps.
In the interim, though, we've seen an exciting shift. As the leading edge has moved from Millennials to Generation Z, the landscape has become fractured. It seems increasingly unlikely that another service will rise, Facebook-style, to rope in everyone and their grandparents. And apps that tech writers were quick to label as failures have instead found a measure of quiet success with a smaller circle of highly devoted fans.
Ello didn't topple Facebook, and VSCO hasn't killed Instagram, but they don't need to. Instead, they're growing organically, reconfiguring their designs - and even their mission statements - as their users find new ways to engage with them. Remember that even Snapchat began life as a scandalous photo-sharing site before pivoting into a wildly successful storytelling platform.
We've put together a list of some of our favorite networks, tools and spaces that represent this new internet - a place that's social but also ephemeral, with apps that are highly focused but also open to reinterpretation. It's not just one brave new world anymore - it's a whole bunch of them.
- Tribe is a little bit like a video walkie-talkie, and it's great for messaging groups - http://tribe.pm
- To.Be turns your browser window into a live canvas, where photos, videos and graphics can be dragged in, manipulated, and shared - or turned into an all-over-printed t-shirt - http://to.be
- Plane is an icebreaking app that makes it easy to meet new friends and build social networks in real-life situations - http://tryplane.com
- Everyone thought Instagram video would be the death of Vine, but its community continues to grow. Turns out it's a great place for memes, surreal magic tricks and stop-motion animation - https://vine.co
- Like a combination of Periscope and Soundcloud, Krue is an app that delivers live feeds of music performances from around the world - https://www.krue.tv