You are not the lowest common denominator

Internet companies often strive for lock in.

Lock in is what happens once you have a lot of followers on Twitter… it's not easy to switch. Same with all social networks. And operating systems too–it takes a lot of hassle to walk away from iOS.

Once a company has achieved lock in, one way to grow is to appeal to those that haven't been absorbed (yet), to change the product to make it appeal to people who need it to be simpler, dumber and less powerful, because (the company and its shareholders understand) the power of the network becomes ever more irresistible as it scales.

Do the math. Given a choice between serving existing users that are looking for a more powerful tool or creating more simplicity and ease for the newbies, which pays bigger dividends to the network's owners?

And so the information density and power of your phone's operating system goes down, not up. The tools available on various sites become easier to use, but less appealing to those that made the site work in the first place. (This isn't new, of course. The same thing could be said for the design of chainsaws, edgy retail stores and most sports cars too).

That leads to a pretty common cycle of power-user dissatisfaction. The people who care the most leave first.

The question today is: has lock in (due to social network power) become so powerful that power users can't leave, even if they're tired of being treated like people who marketers seem to believe want something too-simple* and dumb? Without a doubt, networks yearn to be bigger and more inclusive. The challenge is to do that without losing what made them work.

What do networks owe the users who made them powerful in the first place?

*too-simple is not the same as simple. Simple is good, because it enables power. Too-simple prevents it.