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Snapchat and the Tremendous, Lucrative Disruption of the Ephemeral


When it goes public, Snapchat may attain a market capitalization of $30 billion. That’s not too bad for a company that met a lot of skepticism when it was founded in 2011, with the novelty of self-deleting content. And its Spectacles, the eyeglasses that can record videos, are a hit among shoppers in this Christmas season.

What was then non-conventional soon set the trend for other networks. Snapchat has now overtaken Twitter in number of users. And, unlike grumblings at the time it came up with its novelty, it did not become a mere vehicle for sexting. It has now become into a news company in its own right.

Its coverage, to call it such, of the recent Louisiana floods or an attack by a gun-wielding man at Ohio State, have become examples of the cooperative, collective journalism curated by a team of professional writers and editors in the age of social media.

Its main trait is the ephemeral nature of its content. Yet no message is easier to miss than the writing on the wall: the Internet itself is the realm of the ephemeral. It’s almost Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges’ “Book of Sand,” in which you would never again see a page you turned.

Now, in the interests of full disclosure, your correspondent is a man of a certain age, one of those cranky men that read certain New York newspaper, as Farhad Manjoo says in that certain New York newspaper, and who will not use Snapchat in his lifetime. That, too, is ephemeral. So is the life of a butterfly in our eyes, but perhaps for her it lasts an eternity.

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