Google’s worst nightmare

“This is going to sound silly, but I think Snapchat was the most important technology of 2013,” Farhad Manjoo writes for The Wall Street Journal. “It sounds silly because Snapchat is just an app. What’s more, it’s an app used primarily by teens and college students, and wasn’t I telling you just a few weeks ago that young people aren’t good predictors of tech success?”

“Then there’s the question of whether Snapchat is useful at all. Snapchat sends so-called ephemeral messages, photos and captions that disappear a few seconds after the recipient opens them. Self-destructing photos sound like a recipe for mischief. When people first hear about Snapchat, they likely picture acts by a certain disgraced former congressman,” Manjoo writes. “Yet, even if it fails, Snapchat will have been one of the most fascinating services to hit the Internet in years. To me, the app’s exploding popularity suggests that society is yearning for a new way to think about data. Snapchat is one of the first mainstream services to show us that our photos and texts don’t need to stick around forever: that erasing all the digital effluvia generated by our phones and computers can be just as popular a concept as saving it.”

“If the Snapchat model takes off — if other sites and services began to promote the idea of erasability as a competitive feature — the Internet would look very different from the Internet of today,” Manjoo writes. “Do we want to live on that Erasable Internet, the Snapchat Internet, instead of the Internet built by Facebook and Google?”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


    1. They mean the internet culture, the “permanence culture” of the internet in which our every action is not only saved, forever, no matter what we do, but shared with everyone we know. They don’t mean that Google and Facebook literally built the internet.

  1. I’ll be looking into Snapchat.

    Most things you look at one time and don’t need/want a record of it . . . Would be very cool if you could send an iMessage where you hit a little time bomb icon as the final character which makes it so that it deletes from the sender, receiver and the Apple servers within 60 second after opening. Could even have a little countdown clock so that the receiver knows how long they have to read or view it.

    Would be optional for every message, but would probably be very widely used and welcomed as a feature.

  2. Amidst the vast diversity of humans on the planet, there are those who are uncontrollably impulsive (Hello Carlos Danger). Then there are those who think before they post. Some people can only be allowed to use Snapchat. Some people take personal responsibility for their behavior.

    1. I don’t disagree with the sentiment.
      But I don’t know anyone who records all of their phone conversations, for example. In fact, few people would want all of their correspondence kept around forever unless they chose to do so specifically.

      The bottom line is that not all communication between human beings is the variety that needs to be locked in a searchable echo of sorts.

      This technology will not only catch on, I predict that consumers will clamor for it and use it much more often. There might even be a time down the road with respect to text messages where we all laugh about how we used to keep them on our devices for months or even years without a second thought.

      1. Like my mother, who has every email she’s ever been sent on her iPad 4. Thankfully, that’s about all she does with her iPad 4, seeing as she’s scared stiff of agreeing to the voluminous iTunes EULA. It’s going to take her a couple years to fill up the device memory.

        She is of the type who complains about iPad functionality but refuses to RTFM or have me show her the solution. So I just… laugh… and smile, and move along while wondering how I ended up in this family.

        1. Derek,

          I feel your pain!
          Not only do I have family members of varying digital abilities, proclivities, voodoo magic ideas of how things work, and such, but I also teach and consult.
          Ya can’t save everybody.
          So in certain circumstances, you are right to just “smile and move along”…
          BTW, your words are of the top ten people that u look forward to reading, as they are usually thoughtful, interesting, and readable.

  3. Do deleted Snapchat messages really disappear though?

    Anything sent over the Internet to a device can typically be recovered from dozens of places, sometimes with very little technical knowledge. It’s far more likely Snapchat just offer the illusion of deleting messages, and that false sense of security this gives could be worse than no delete feature at all.

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