How do trends get started? How do the conventional ways in which people use social networking services begin? The answer is interesting and might surprise you. The answer also helps to explain why “new” social networks like Google+ fail to take off. Because the conventions come from the users, and they get picked up and refined. They get built in to the service organically. Google+ doesn’t appeal because Google have tried to create the conventions themselves (Circles, real names, etc).
The story of how peoplestarted to use @ on Twitter is interesting, not least because the convention started elsewhere (on Flickr – who started it there?).
After that message there was a lull and then, for some reason, on November 23, 2006, myself and a bunch of other people started using the @reply all on the same day. Collective consciousness, I suppose, considering I’ve never seen any of these people’s tweets before and they’ve never seen mine. Whatever it was that started this, it happened early that morning when Neil Crosby tweeted…