Benedict Evans brilliantly draws parallels between technology and fashion:
There's a common idea that in some way fashion designers get together in a room and decide what the fashion will be next year. That's a pretty fundamental misunderstanding. Rather, they propose what might fit the zeitgeist. Sometimes that's incremental and sometimes it's a radical break - sometimes the pendulum needs to swing from one extreme to another. Sometimes they get it wrong, but when they get it right it captures an age. The New Look proposed that people wanted to move on from the clothes of wartime austerity, and from austerity itself, and that this was a good way to do it, and Dior was right.
I'm reminded of these kinds of shifts when thinking about Facebook and how much it can change behaviours - about how much it can decide what the new thing will be. After all, social media has now moved far past the point that it serves any kind of purely utilitarian purpose. There was a time when instant messaging or the asymmetric feed were simply better person-to-person mechanics than email (as one could argue that Slack is now). Now, though, we're shifting around at the top of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, experimenting with different ways to explore and express our personality and our needs, and so, in a sense, of the zeitgeist. Many of these trends have also expressed the same sense of a pendulum - we swung from the chaos of MySpace to the structured order of Facebook, and then swung again to the fun and exuberance and creativity of Snap (or at any rate that Snap aspires to have). But Snap of course is not the only one - sitting on top of the smartphone, which is itself a social platform, there are dozens of apps and experiences, from GIF keyboards to live streaming apps to animoji, all trying to capture a little piece of Maslow. Social is pop culture. […]
Indeed, when something becomes fashionable, it will inevitably become unfashionable - "no-one goes there anymore - it's too crowded". The zeitgeist changes both of itself and because of your success. So the very fact that any social media company has found a behaviour that people want means that at some point they'll stop wanting it. People stopped wearing the new look, they stopped wearing miniskirts, and they stopped wearing punk. There is always a pendulum.