A Very Out-Of-The Box Vision For Saving SnapChat

by Shelton Bumgarner

I have already mentioned this, but it’s fun to talk about so I’m going to write about it some more. If SnapChat were to re-imagine itself completely in the manner I have suggested, that of turning itself into something akin to a video discussion service with a new text aspect, I think something pretty cool could happen.

Here’s how I would do it.

If it were possible, I would base the new SnapChat on video conferencing. I used the now defunct Blab.im a lot a few years ago and if SnapChat were to leverage its existing user base to go in that direction I think it would reap significant rewards. But there’s a lot I don’t know.

Video would still be at the core of the service, but there would be so much more than that available. The whole point of this new SnapChat would be to get you to have video conferences with your friends that others could watch. It wouldn’t be so much about sending video email to your existing friends as it would be making new friends. That’s a pretty powerful concept, I think. If you had a robust discovery feature you could make all kinds of new friends.

But the point is, there would also be a powerful IRC (AOL Chatroom) text feature in this new service. And threaded Usenet-like post discussions. All of this wouldn’t be rolled out overnight, of course, but you would gradually work towards a completely new vision for SnapChat that I think users would really love. Again, the only reason why I even suggest SnapChat doing this is if it doesn’t innovate and innovate quickly, the whole thing is doomed.

I don’t know if its even technically feasible to do a massive amount of video conferencing in the way I suggest. Blab was never able to get more than, maybe, 100 people in a room to watch a four way video conference, so it may not even be technically possible to get thousands of people watching even a two way video conference. But let’s suppose they used proprietary technology or something.

They would have to expand onto the desktop to truly have this vision become a reality. It would be really cool to have a service whereby you had not only recorded video conferencing with an audience, but a feature rich text environment as well. I have talked at great length about my vision both on this Website and on Instagram. Like, I’ve done thousands of little Instagram videos about this subject. I just take a lot of pictures now, but the videos are still there on my account for better or worse.

The only reason why I even think SnapChat would be interested in such a completely different vision for their service is they’re in serious risk of becoming moot and if they did something really, really dramatic and revolutionary it may be the only way to survive at all. They have the means, motive and opportunity as they say.

They wouldn’t even have to worry that much about their userbase revolting. SnapChat is dying and if they don’t innovate their way out of this deadend, there won’t be much for them to worry about at all in the first place. But whatever. Like I said, I only even wrote about this because it’s interesting.

Of Podcasting, Soundcloud & The Music Industry In The Context Of Usenet Concepts

by Shelton Bumgarner

Now, the reason why I think you could use a service based on the concepts of Usenet and IRC to revolutionize not only the publishing business but music is because if you see these concepts the way I do, then there are any number of use cases you can think up.

So, this post is about the use case of music industry, podcasting and this service.

The interesting thing about this concept when it comes to podcasting and music is it’s a natural fit. If, as part of developing the site, you were to buy Soundcloud on the cheap and integrate it into the service you could do some pretty cool things. I say this because the key to making the service a success is finding different communities to use as source of growth marketing.

Establishing this platform as one where you could discuss podcasts and music would be pretty cool. The entire service would be designed to encourage debate and discussion and pretty much given the passions associated with music would be a perfect fit. People love to talk about music and podcasting and if you made it so you could actually do a podcast native to the service, all the better. Though, because I’m a former user of the now defunct video service known as Blab if I had anything to do with it, I would try to take things to the next step and use video as much as possible.

But imagine Pod Save America dropping on the service. There would be a Crooked Media post beneath the podcast and people could inline edit that content in a threaded discussion as well as have an archive live-text chat about it as well. This is pretty powerful stuff on a conceptual level, if nothing else. While I’m sure these concepts are floating about here and there, I can’t think of a site like the one I imagine that would do it all in one place seamlessly.

Or the latest hip-hop video drops and you get to not only watch the video, but get a full-page ad for merch and tickets to venues where the performer in the video is going to sing. That’s pretty cool, I think. And because people are interested in this content in the first place, they won’t mind that they’re interacting with an enormous ad while they talk about the music.

It seems pretty obvious that EDM would be the perfect subculture to promote this service to at first for no other reason than they have a huge amount of passion and they would love the ability to talk about venues and music and what not. Now, I know there are probably plenty of sites that already exist that allow them to do just that, but I like to think the service I’ve come up with would be so cool as to draw at least a sizable amount of those people to the service.

But, as I said, no one cares what I have to say. This is just daydreaming. I will grow tired of it soon enough, but for the time being it’s relaxing to look at this concept from different angles.

Monetizing A Social Media Service Based On The Concepts Of Usenet & IRC

by Shelton Bumgarner

So, the real question is, how would this service that I keep writing about make money?

That is the point of all of this.

I would say the crux of monetizing this service would be the thing that makes it different than Twitter or Reddit on a fundamental level. Neither Twitter nor Reddit gives me the basic ability to have a threaded post that’s an entire page. Because of the distributed system of Usenet, it was nearly impossible to use what could have been a strength in the manner that people wanted to use. Also, the fact that Usenet effectively years before broadband and the modern Web had much to do with it.

So, I guess what I’m saying is, it is quite curious that if you give it some thought, we’ve made a huge step backwards in online discussion in the last 20 years. It’s very curious. I believe if you were to strike with a discussion service that used the concepts of Usenet and IRC in a way designed to make money you could make a huge amount of it. Like, Facebook money.

I say this because if you look at it the way I look at this situation it’s obvious. Imagine a site where you can seamlessly integrate full-page, targeted ads inside online discussion in a manner that people don’t even realize that they’re engaged with it because they’re so interested in whatever is being sold. This is really cool, especially if you work on the assumption that you will, much like Facebook, learn a huge amount about your user base as things progress.

Not that they’re won’t be problems. There probably will be plenty, but if you design a site from the ground up that both wants to be a discussion platform and an advertising platform the engagement will be so high that you would eventually be making money hand over fist. It just makes total sense. The concept I’ve come up with fixes most of the problems of both Twitter and Reddit in a manner that people won’t mind that they’re getting a nearly constant stream of enormous targeted ads.

It’s too bad no one is listening to me and I have no money, can’t code and don’t want to learn. But it’s fun to talk about, that’s for sure.

The Specifics Of Integrating IRC & Usenet Concepts In A New Social Media Service

By Shelton Bumgarner

Now, I am well aware that social media now has zero buzz in Silicon Valley. All this writing I’m doing about this subject is pointless and no one is listening. But for me, personally, it’s relaxing and I enjoy exploring the topic for myself if no one else.

So, how exactly would you integrate two really addictive 20 year concepts — IRC and Usenet — in a seamless manner that would not only keep people coming back, but make a lot of money?

Well, I have given it a lot of thought and I think the best way to do it is like this: you’d have an IRC channel devoted to a Group and an IRC channel devoted to a thread. This is how you do it — on the quarter or so of your screen would be an IRC like channel devoted to the Group’s topic, while once the owner of the group — a verified account holder — started a thread, on about a quarter of the right of the screen would be a live stream of text devoted to that particular thread.

The more I think about it, the more it makes sense that a thread could only be started by a verified account holder. That fixes a lot of problems when it comes to newbies and morons posting stupid shit to a group. It would be a way to manage who posts what to a group in a somewhat subtle manner. There might be some bitching about this at first, but I think people would get used to it.

I really like the concept, if nothing else.

Of course, there is the issue of how these two IRC-like channels would be displayed across the service. That is an interesting problem that I doubt is too difficult to overcome. It’s stuff like that which is fun to mull over when you’re a boring job for a few hours.

Of Thought Leaders, Content Providers & A Service Based On Usenet Concepts

by Shelton Bumgarner

Some basic problems exist online that a new discussion service devoted to updating the concepts of Usenet and IRC could fix. The first major problem is content providers continue to struggle to make money online. I believe if you designed a service based on the concepts of Usenet you might not be able to fix the problem but you could definitely ameliorate it.

I say this because what if you came to an profit sharing agreement with major online content providers so they could shoot out their content into this new service with all their ads intact. People would be able to inline edit the content, pick it apart in discussion and still be exposed to all the ads from the original content provider. This is pretty powerful I think. If, say, there was breaking news and the Washington Post or New York Times shot the story in its entirety into this discussion service, all the ads associated with the story would be seen as people were engaging actively with the content. This, in a sense, would take blogging to the next level.

I think that’s pretty cool.

Meanwhile, there is another problem: thought leaders are really growing tired of Twitter. It seems pretty obvious that if you gave them a better option they would bolt Twitter and bring their community and its collected fans along with them. If you told celebrities and other thought leaders that you gave them a service that gave them exclusive administrative goodies they probably would be extremely pleased. Giving verified account holders the exclusive ability create and manage newsgroups (or whatever they’re called in the service) would attract them in droves and be the basis of the new service’s initial success.

There are seemingly an endless different ways you could use this service when it comes to thought leaders. Imagine a major musician dropping a track into the service in such a way that people could discuss it between themselves with significantly more engagement than the typical tweet. Or, hell, for that matter, you could put an entire podcast into the service and people could debate the podcast with great gusto. I really like that one.

Anyway, as I keep saying, I have no money, can’t code and don’t want to learn. It’s just fun to write about this. Though, if you want to see me talk about this at great length, look at my Instagram account.

The Curious Case Of Usenet, IRC & Why Twitter Needs To Die

by Shelton Bumgarner

I had a dream last night about how easy it would be to use any number of great Usenet clients as a the basis of a Web interface for a new discussion service that would be a “Twitter Killer.” Some of these clients, especially the ones you had to pay for, were really, really good. They were feature rich and fun to use and got the job done. Figure out a way to integrate IRC concepts into the interface and you have the makings of something really, really cool.

Of course, you’d have to update the experience some simply because people have Twitter, Usenet and Reddit as a frame of reference. But the general concepts you would use for such a service are extremely powerful and useful in today’s world.

One of the reasons why it took me years to use Twitter is I was so used to Usenet’s interface that I didn’t get what the big deal was about. Even now, I struggle to understand how anyone would use Twitter instead of Usenet and the answer is, of course: they don’t know Usenet even ever existed.

Usenet was not perfect and any service you designed would have to be designed from the ground up to address some modern needs. You would have to be able to integrate advertising seamlessly and you would have to address some basic issues that simply didn’t exist 20 years ago when Usenet and IRC were popular.

One issue I think would be interesting to address is newsgroup — or whatever you called them — creation. In my imagination, you would give verified account holders exclusive ability to create new newsgroups. You would give them other privileges, but not too many simply because you wouldn’t want to burden them with administration duties. Yet I think a lot of thought leaders would get off on the notion they had more power than just the average user. Now, of course, being a verified account holder would come at a price: you’d have to use your real name.

Another issue that would have to be addressed is cross posting. Cross-posting spam was a real issue with Usenet and I think simply wouldn’t give people the power to cross post at all. Or maybe just give it to verified account holders within those groups they had created.

Once you assume you’re going to use Usenet and IRC concepts as the basis of a Twitter Killer, there are so many intriguing, interesting tweaks you would be able to implement. Because Usenet was based on the notion of threaded entire-page posts, you could do some interesting things with content providers. They could shoot out their articles — in full — into the system and then people could quote the content directly through inline editing. The content providers make money because the ads associated with the content would still be associated with it. Done properly, this service I imagine could not only revolutionize content online, but, in a sense, bring back blogging from the dead.

Another interesting twist to the old Usenet concept is directly integrating IRC concepts into it as well. This is a little bit more fuzzy, but somehow you would make it so you would be able to enjoy now only the experience of old AOL Chat rooms but the old Usenet experience as well with the same service. So, it would be something like, you would have a public chat associated with each new newsgroup. Or something.

Additionally, something that would be really cool is what you might be able to do with profile pages with this service. If you had a way of cutting through the enormous amount of discussion such a service would generate by linking what you contributed to the service to your profile page, that might be really popular. Of course, you would have the usual Trending topics as well.

I also really like the idea of one-click recorded video-conferencing being associated with this as well. It would be cool if you could have a text chat with someone, then hit a button and start a recorded public video chat that would be associated with a post. Maybe only verified account holders could do this, but I think, in general this is a pretty strong concept.

Now, I don’t expect any of this to happen. I have no money, can’t code and don’t want to learn. But I use Twitter so much and miss Usenet so much that I keep thinking about this concept over and over again. I keep thinking of different interesting use-cases. I have posted an enormous amount of Instagram videos on this subject and the only reason why I don’t do it again is I have started to use my Instagram account for pictures more than anything else.

Of Usenet, IRC & A Proposed ‘Twitter Killer’

by Shelton Bumgarner

Only because this really bugs me do I keep writing about this. It just strikes me as odd that there are well-established design concepts that existed 20 years ago that we no longer have in public online discussion. I’m thinking specifically, of course, of Usenet and IRC. Usenet more than IRC for reasons that will become clear soon enough.

Compared to today’s online discussion systems, Usenet was both extremely difficult to use and surprisingly feature rich. The closest thing to Usenet today is Reddit, but I find Reddit useless and poor implementation of Usenet concepts. It seems pretty obvious to me that if Silicon Valley could stop drooling over AR and VR long enough to pay attention, they would see that an online discussion service that brought back the concepts of Usenet in conjunction with IRC would be both popular and profitable.

One of the things that killed Usenet 20 years ago was no one knew how to use it to make money because it was designed for discussion, not money. But if you learned from Facebook, it wouldn’t be too difficult to design something like Usenet that wasn’t so much like Reddit that people just shrugged and said meh. There was a lot going on with Usenet that we simply don’t have anymore. It’s really strange. Over the last 20 years, we too a quantum leap back in functionality when it comes to online discussion.

If you would somehow combine the concepts of Usenet and IRC in a big way, in a way that the masses could understand and enjoy, I think both popularity and profit would quickly come your way. Again, I have to note, I’m just a dreamer. I just daydream a lot and remember using Usenet 20 years ago and loving it and now in middle-age I miss it a lot. I long for the functionality of Usenet in an online service that aims to eat Twitter’s lunch. Twitter, unlike Facebook, seems really weak. In the past, I thought there was a chance to go head-to-head with this concept against Facebook, but after much thinking I realize it’s Twitter, not Facebook that a Usenet/IRC concept combo would be most effective.

Not only is it really weird that Usenet has vanished into the mists of time, but IRC has, too. Now, of course, in the enterprise, Slack exists. But 20 years ago AOL was making so much money from chat rooms they were able to buy Time-Warner. So, obviously, there is a use case for what I suggest. And it makes a lot of sense, at least to me, that the next step for the Twitter space would be live chat like what we found with IRC and AOL Chat Rooms 20 years ago. But there is a real chance that AR & VR is where all the money is going to and there’s no changing that.

And, yet, a little part of me can’t help but continue to daydream. I really did love Usenet 20 years ago and it would be so much fun to have that functionality available again. There is just so much you could do with the many features that Usenet had if you updated them to modern social media expectations. But, alas, I fear it’s going to remain just a daydream. Which, at least in my opinion, is too bad.

Yet More Idle Mulling Of A ‘Twitter Killer’

by Shelton Bumgarner

I have discussed this at great length, but it does seem to me that the time is ripe for a “Twitter Killer.” Twitter is a mess. It was never designed for discussion and pretty much it’s completely useless. It serves a cultural purpose and as such we force it to work, but in real terms it’s completely useless.

The ironic thing is, 20 years ago, people had online tools that were significantly better than Twitter. I speak, of course, of Usenet and IRC. Now, some of the functionality of Usenet exists with Reddit, but it’s so poorly implemented as to be useless at least for me. I have heard rumblings that they’re going to revamp their interface, so maybe some of my complaints will be addressed by Reddit sooner rather than later. Time will tell, I guess.

But 20 years ago, Usenet was a public discussion system that, at its height in about 1996, was a large-scale discussion system that was feature rich and allowed for any number of different use-cases that simply aren’t found with Twitter. You had full-page posts. You had robust threading. You had subdivision of topics. Meanwhile, with IRC — or AOL Chatrooms, for that matter — you had massive live chat taking place. Now, the only place you can find IRC-type functionality is with enterprise Slack.

Anyway, the point is, I feel that while Silicon Valley is mentally masturbating about bitcoin and VR & AR that someone, somewhere should design a service for the masses that draws directly from Usenet and IRC. Maybe not a direct copy, but something similar that is easy to use and yet has the functionality of those two services in the same place. I have gone into great detail about my vision for this on my Instagram account, but I have no money, can’t code and don’t want to learn, so it’s highly unlikely I would be involved with anything should it ever happen.

I feel as though this is ever-more-urgent now that Trump is president and he is a creature of Twitter. Maybe if we killed Twitter, replaced it with something a bit more feature rich, then the service in itself would in some way mitigate Trump as a media animal. Maybe I’m being delusional, maybe I’m not.

I have given this a lot of thought, and to me, what you do is you give Verified Account holders a little bit more power than the average user. Maybe they, alone, could create topic subdivisions, which I call “Groups.” Within Groups would be “Discussions.” Discussions, depending on my mood, would be something like live chat that had a feature rich option to use video and entire page posts. Or something. Something where you had the best of both IRC and Usenet with a dash of video thrown in for good measure.

Regardless, I just really like talking about this because Trump worries me and anything that might take a bite out of his media ability is something that would make all of us safer. But, like I said, I don’t have any hope. Unless I fall into a huge amount of money and can do this my self, nothing will come of it. Oh well.