From Ibragim Pupkevich;
"What is your opinion on this, dear IPS? Very interesting to hear exhaustive statement of your teams point of view."
"Briefly speaking: what's your plan to stay inline with the wind of changes (trends)?"
Sorry I'm a little late to the party, but this is one of those rare occasions where I'd like to toss in two old pennys. A cheap rant, for anyone who has the time to read it.
Sure, social networking is the rage now, but with more and more moves by big content to use and abuse consumer content, not to mention the privacy problems, what few sites I've been able to keep up and running have experienced a rise in activity, sometimes to the point where I have to check the hosting account logs to see if there's not some malicious activity going on in the filespace somewhere.
What I've personally seen lately is a steady, plodding but determined return to local sites, for local news and issues, without the taint and the meddling of site management. Yahoo, Google, Facebook and Twitter turning over user names and information to local LE? Come on. For Occupy protestors or marchers at political opposition rallies in US cities? Get real. Sure, everbody but those without electricity and people living on the moon know that the NSA is tapping every form of human communication on the planet, even sharing the information with the DEA, FBI and all their siblings. But people are aware and, in spite of still using electronic communication, a lot of people want to exchange ideas, debate tolpics and even argue in a relatively safe environment. Especially on local matters of controversy.
In my locality, LE has taken it upon themselves to start policing social networking sites. Local government employees have been censored, harassed, even terminated for hitting the like button. City police have made arrests for locals usiing profanity on the internet (no kidding). It has gotten to the point to where local LE can walk into the office of a local ISP and get account information on any internet account on their system, WITHOUT a warrant. Critics of local government, including people who criticize the local law enforcement establishment, have been outed by LE officials in the local press.
Maybe it is different in larger cities, but around here, people take their right to free speech very seriously. It has gotten to the point where citizens have been arrested for carrying video cameras to open public meetings, in spite of a state law that forbids government interference with videotaping or recording public meetings.
The members of boards that I operate have consistently voiced their appreciation for a site where they can express their opinions, without worrying about being outed by the site operator. I have run one site since September of 2003 and it is still going today, mostly for exchange of current events, local information on what's happening and where, and most importantly, for the expression of political, social, religious and other ideology and opinions that people don't feel safe saying on social media outlets.
I am a survivor of the old school computer BBS days. First phone-in BBS system was a 286 with a single speed CDROM, running QMODEM as a host. It was at the very beginning of the personal computer age. Not the Radio Shack, Commodore and Tandy era, but the span when DOS 6.22 gave way to Win 3.0. We had PCBoard, Wildcat, Spitfire and FIDONET and people were fanatic about being able to share, debate and argue politics, religion and everything in between. Then all that was run over by the freightrain that is the www/internet, AOL and IE and Netscape.
Now people are, at least in my locality, going back to the feeling that was had in the old BBS systems. Locals dealing with locals on local issues, without the hype and glue traps of social networking sites. I think that is a lost apsect of forums that the companies (VB, IPB and the others) have forgotten and kicked to the curb in a dash for the social net.
Over the last ten years, I have been more than vocal on disagreeing with IPB when it makes changes to the software that negatively affects my members (duh, d'ya think that a forum with 600+ users, and specializes in user avatar competitions, would take a hit when the avatar gallery went away?), then forces me to choose between being able to get updated security or holding on to the software that has the features popular with my members and risk being nuked by some loser nitwit with nothing better to do. Like Gates trying to force Windows 8 on users who don't want it, or dropping support for one of Microsoft's most popular OS (XP). Geez, people, when you get something that people like, stop trying to bend it in a different way and shove it down people's throats. God, I remember the whole fiasco of Windows ME and Gates never apologized for that mess and I never got my money back. I'm just happy that FOSS is at the point it is today and people don't have to depend on the big boys and their toys.
So I am personally seeing a spike in numbers, based on local interest in local topics, free of the ads and scripts and privacy issues that come with social sites. It would be nice if some small software company actually realized that there's a market for that kind of thing today. Hhmmm, seems I remember one being like that a long time ago. I wonder where they went?