Deflating the Social Media Hot Air Balloon

Facebook, Twitter, Zynga, and their ilk — standard-bearers for the ill-defined phenomenon known as “social media” that is now supposed to be the future of the Web — are having a tough time these days in the thinking person's press.

Over the past few days, two articles appeared. The first, by Daniel Lyons in Newsweek, compared today's tech entrepreneurs with their Silicon Valley forebears. The second, by Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker, assessed social media's aspirations to political clout. Both are smart and extremely critical of Web 2.0, and both are worth


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