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The Evolution of Social Media

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Recently Andreas Weigend postulated an amazing statistic at the Harvard Business Blog:

“In 2009, more data will be generated by individuals than in the entire history of mankind through 2008.”

He goes on to explain the reasons why this will happen and what the implications are for marketers; a very interesting read.  That being said, his opening statistic about the sheer amount of data we now generate reminded me of something I’ve been pondering for a while now: how soon is it before people become so inundated with status updates, RSS feeds and Tweets that we will see some kind of digital information backlash?  As an information junkie who feels moderately out of sorts when I stray too far from an internet connection, even I have felt the urge to unplug growing stronger as of late.

If this backlash does happen, it will most likely of the ‘tempest in a teapot’ variety, brought about by some random occurrence like the rise of a new social disorder that prevents people from being able to actually talk to one another in person.  It will be written about in trend reports and talking heads will blather endlessly on about it across the 24-hour news networks.  Traditional media companies will smugly proclaim they were right all along.  And even though the world will move on, it won’t ever be the same.

Here’s why: social media is still in its infancy.  There’s a lot of hype and perhaps the level of utility doesn’t live up to that hype – yet.  However, there is plenty of evidence pointing to the fact social media will eventually become more ubiquitous and less noticeable as it evolves.  Services like Google Friend Connect and Facebook Connect already allow you to embed social networking capabilities in websites.  Other tools like the Flock browser enhance the social web experience, while you can now easily share files on Twitter thanks to Filetwt.  As things evolve, standalone brands like Twitter and Facebook will most likely disappear while their functionality lives on as social media becomes a lot like indoor plumbing – we’ll use it all the time and take it completely for granted unless it doesn’t work.

Until then, we’ll have to endure being barraged with useless information like what so-and-so had for breakfast this morning and What Muppet Character I Would Be.  And for our sanity’s sake we should perhaps occasionally unplug for as long as we can stand it.  But personally, I believe it will all be worth it in order to see the amazing things that will come next.


Written by Demian

May 26, 2009 at 5:40 pm