Social Networking

Most things take time to develop. Take human beings, we take ages to evolve to the stage when we’re wheeling about and then, suddenly, we’re on the moon, driving about in our moon buggies whilst a world looks on in awe. You’d have hardly thought of driving about on the moon as an application for the wheel when it was first conceived of, or cogs in machines, the cogs that powered the first computers. Things take time, but we will use simple things to build ever more complex structures.

Social networking is one of the tools in another quantum toolbox right now. We thought of blogs, in the beginning, as rather egotistical stabs at Internet stardom, now we understand that they are more of a democratisation of information that goes beyond ego. Setting information free becomes a liberating force, it’s not a collection of people at a party who won’t let anyone else get a word in edgeways, it’s a vast cauldron of information that’s allowing us to take our understanding to it’s next level.

How we use these tools depends a lot on us.

I remember in the early days of the mobile how people tutted in bars as people’s phones disturbed the silence. I once saw a mobile being plonked into a pint of beer as the user was in the toilet when his phone rang and being young I laughed with the rest of the pub. But because of work I needed my own phone, so when I stood on top of a peak in The Lake District and phoned my girlfriend to tell her about the snow around my knees, about the sun striking off of the pure white fells, I understood the power of these new toys. I was free to communicate and it felt great.

I was dismissive about the new app ‘Four Square’ the other day. At the moment it looks gauche, rather childish perhaps, with it’s little graphics of crowns for the kings it will make of local amenities that people frequent. But I can see it changing cities, when people vote in real time with their feet and their Geo locator’s to tell where is good or not, where service is to be appreciated. Business will listen to people rather than people reacting to business.

But talking of Business, I read in the a transcript of a talk recently that ‘People are increasingly likely to find out about products and brands from their friends rather than from your business. It means that it is much harder to control how people first come to experience your messages.’ Does this mean that it will be harder and harder for business to lurk, for professionals to enter the Social Networking world unless invited?

I get an inkling that business itself will go through a transformation, it will stop being such a rude word because the line between business and pleasure will become blurred.

I, as do many people now, make my living working on the Internet. I don’t really see my work time as being so different to my play time because they overlap. I have friends that inhabit the same forums that I meet business associates on, I see my work as something that allows me freedom of movement not something that ties me down. I have a very different experience to my former self that used to enjoy the feeling of freedom after telling some anal retentive boss where they could keep their executive toys. It’s the ability to network, to transcend locality and the prejudice of misinformation that is setting us free.

So if you are one of those people that’s finding it hard to fathom why people have Facebook on 24/7 and twitter whilst queuing for a bagel, have a little faith, we’ll be on the moon before you can blink.

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