Big Ideas: The future of social media will not be application specific, it will be built in to the operating systems of all the devices we use.
Some sort of ‘Social IP’ address will connect all of our interactions, rather than applications like Facebook and Twitter
Stowe Boyd has a fascinating article discussing our social future.
Here are some highlights:
I believe that Facebook represents the high water mark of social networking, as we understand it today, a time dominated by social networking applications, as if our social interaction is something best managed in a single enormous database, whose rows and tables are designed by a small group of developers in one company.
Facebook is the new AOL.
Facebook is managing the chaos of social interaction on the web, normalizing it and standardizing it for us, just as AOL made the web neat and tidy. That seemed a winning proposition in the late ’90s, which led to astonishing valuations for AOL. They acquired Time-Warner using that wealth, and in 2002 Time-Warner wrote off $600M as AOL started to fall. Now, AOL has been spun out, and has no central role in our experience of the web. 10 years is a long time. Time-Warner is now the second largest entertainment company in the world.
We will see social operating systems where following people’s activities, or creating likes, or publishing profiles will all be built-in. These will not be features of apps, or managed as metadata in walled silos. The primitives that structure our social connections will be built into the fabric of the next generation of operating environments, just like file systems, URLs, and HTTP are well-integrated into today’s.
As a result, actors like Google, Apple, the Linux community, and Microsoft — as well as upstarts that don’t even exist yet — will be the implementers of the next generation of social web, with social interaction built into its DNA.
Imagine that I will turn on my next generation iPad, a few years hence, and I’ll be presented with various applications that show views over the streams of information finding their way to me based on my social relationships. But those relationships are not based on application managed information, but related to my device connecting to the web, like getting an IP address today. I would get a social IP, and ping out to all the other entities online, so that information from those that I follow would find me, just as email is routed to me today independently of what email application I choose to use.
Actions like following, liking, posting, and reposting have become the core of our social existence. And these core activities should be core to the platforms, not peripheral.
Predicting the demise Facebook is probably not so prescient. All large companies fall from grace sooner or later (except maybe Google), so it is not hard to imagine that Facebook will lose out to some new start up or new standard of connecting to one another. Surely, there are better things coming in the future than Farmville.
What is most interesting to me is the concept of a “Social IP.” Widely accepted protocols, just like IP addresses now, take away control and power from companies and make access ubiquitous. It is common standards and protocols that have made the internet so universal. Imagine where we would be if Microsoft, IBM, Sony, Samsung, etc. each had there own proprietary version of the internet.
Sites like Facebook or Twitter shouldn’t dictate our social interactions. We need universal standards that connect everything we do to everyone we want to connect with. That is a powerful idea.