I've previously stated (and been misunderstood about) my theory that social networks go through different, interesting stages as they grow. My favorite part of instagram was when it was (for me, at least) a pretty quiet feed a handful of friends were experimenting with.
It was serendipitous who I connected with -- not an exercise in finding everyone I was already connected to elsewhere. People I followed who were not already my friends were sometimes talented others, sometimes random or funny, usually interesting, and certainly discovery-driven. My feed was something I could look at on a sleepy Sunday morning and generally find a few new interesting images or gems on, or an unexpected familiar face.
You know where this goes -- eventually everyone else started joining too, and it became a feed that was really busy, and fun and interesting in its own way because of its form factor. And then, at some point after that, blech -- everyone was on it, and everyone was cross-posting, tag-spamming, auto-following and spamming and everything else, and pretty much it became a replica of everything else.
I like the early stage. Flickr was like this for a while, too. So was delicious, arguably facebook (though it was short-lived, and perhaps most notably, Twitter.
A better name for this "early stage of a big social network," though, is "community". A community is not about features; it's about the people that are there, how they interact with each other, what their culture is.
Like, for example, you could make a similar analogy with SXSW. We kind of had to restart that one, and this feels like a similar restart.
The funny part / not surprising part is... it's all the same people.
So good to see you all again -- without the shit sandwich of ads, spam, clickbait and noise in between your lovely faces.
Don't ever change!