Where did it all start? How did we get here?
Most likely the original social media model was built on memorized stories, dances and chants performed around ancient campfires. Writing soon followed as we etched and painted them in stone caves. The first postal system comes from Ancient Persia. With the advent of the industrial age came Pneumatic Systems still in use today like at your bank’s drive through. With the application of that new thing electricity, the telegraph was born and then in rapid succession telephone and radio. ArapaNET, the infant that became the Internet we know today, appeared in the late 60’s. By the late 80’s Compuserve, AOL, and IRC had taken hold and the World Wide Web was preparing to explode into the 90’s. By 2000, billions of people all around the world were online soon to be Chatting and Instant Messaging as a matter of course. Jump ahead to 2003, MySpace and Facebook come onto the scene and within a few years their users rivaled the populations of nations. 2005 brought us YouTube which has quickly become the world?s second largest search engine and last but definitely not least Twitter which recently surpassed 1 billion queries per day. Smart Phones, laptops and WIFI insure you constant access to the Internet?s global social network everywhere. The messages, notices and reminders fly. The world is plugged in and ready. By next year, there is projected to be 5 billion mobile phones in service world wide. Now that’s a campfire!
So, where is it going and what current and emerging technologies are shaping its future?
RFID Tags and Arduino: Objects the size of a grain of sand and self powered are able to sense and remotely exchange information with other devices from a distance. With this embedded in your mobile device, clothing, jewelry or even under the skin, you are now completely wirelessly connected pretty much everywhere you go. Also, right now high tech, low cost, simple circuitry like Arduino is available that will allow objects to notify human beings of their state, via Twitter. Your plant can tweet you when its thirsty. Your house can alert you that a window is left open or if there is a fire or flood.
Optical Pattern Recognition & Augmented Reality: Objects can now see, analyze and interpret what they see even overlaying this data on real time 3D imagery. Facial recognition software that allows computers to identify you is already well out of beta testing and in daily use by security firms and governments around the world.
OpenID: An open, decentralized standard for authenticating users that can be used for access control, allowing users to log into different services with one digital identity from a trusted authentication entity. Your friend network will be a moving, portable experience. We’re already seeing some real application of this with Facebook Connect and Google’s FriendConnect. By the looks of things, OpenID might become FacebookID.
Geomagnetic Sensors in Mobile Devices: Making objects aware of their own location and broadcasting this information globally via satellites, including motion tracking. So now we can track location, speed, direction in 3D, instantly, affordably.
Natural Language Processing: Through amazing hardware and software advances Computers are now multi-lingual translators, able to completely understand the verbal requests and needs of their human users.
Mind/Mood Reading: Science fiction becomes science fact. Humans are able to control a computer interface with the use of thoughts or emotion. This also will be used to track and analyze thoughts, moods and emotions. Neuroscientists are already able to read some basic thoughts, like whether an individual test subject is looking at a picture of a cat or an image with a specific left or right orientation. They can even read pictures that you’re simply imagining in your mind’s eye.
5-10 Years From Now:
Privacy expectations will definitely be lower than today?s standards.
There is already a new normal with the amount of personal information people are willing to share about themselves, especially on Facebook. This is a cultural shift and will continue to open and loosen previous standards before there is ever a shift back. This will then continue to spread into the corporate world and social media policies, now loose company policies or expectations, will become much more detailed and more a part of whether you’ll still have a job after your weekend in Vegas.
With Arduino, OpenID and RFID Tags there will be a complete decentralization of social networks.
The resulting social influenced market will grow into not only the way we interact with digital media but also other venues such as outdoor digital advertising or at sports events and shopping malls. Imagine passing a billboard that serves you a personalized or targeted ad based on your personal likes or dislikes then seeing the same on the JumboTron at a stadium. The addition of online social functions and gatherings will become so commonplace that the thought of not having socially-enhanced experiences will seem illogical.
What’s faster than NOW?
In this new semantic web world, search engines, for example, will anticipate the best search results we’re looking for based on what they know about us (such as our social networking profiles or even our thoughts and emotions). There will be a huge opportunity for marketers who push the limits of their imagination to anticipate what marketing will look like in this next stage of the web and creating new and compelling experiences. Web search results will continue to combine immediate comments and social media postings.
You will be able to rate ANYTHING, ANYWHERE
In the near future, all brands and businesses will probably HAVE to have user feedback on the products and services they provide. It will likely be a huge disadvantage to company revenues to not have this user engagement prevelant on their website. Instant user ratings will be the norm and part of every website experience.
You’ll manage it all with Mobile Devices
Online usage is exploding creating data at exponential rates. Most online users have at least three online profiles from social networks to social news sites like Yahoo. Content aggregators will be the saviors from this information overload, bringing method to madness. All phones will be “Smart” and eventually so will all your electronics and appliances in your cars, workplaces and homes. Managing and filtering all that content will be a huge industry and privacy issues will become huge issues. Failure to warn class actions won’t be about the side effects of certain medications, but the side effects of privacy setting mistakes.
In the future, Social Media experiences will be Instantaneous, Omniscient and Transparent.