What Will Happen When Social Media Gets Serious?

Let’s face it, most of what’s happening on Social Media services like Twitter, Facebook, Bebo, MySpace, Plurk and blogs is really a lot of banter. There are some excellent gems, good business insights across many industries, some networking, finding old friends, sharing ideas and videos…and while some of it is viable for business and personal development, it’s all really new.

Let’s put “new” into perspective. This ability to share text, audio and video on such a massive global scale is about 3 years old (Web 2.0) and maybe 20 at a streatch going back to the early BBoards and the Internet’s earliest days (I’m not counting DARPANET.) Humanity has been around a few million years. We started on cave walls, eventually we created a writing system and moved to stone tablets, then papyrus reeds, the printing press was invented and that lasted a hundred or so years (and is still going strong) and suddenly we have digital communications.

Digital communications have only been around a very short while in comparison to verbal language and the written word. Even photography and video are very recent. So Social Media and the ability to collaborate on a mass scale, well, that’s measurable in terms of a single decade. Put that into perspective.

Social Media is growing, despite only about 42% of the U.S. Web population and 44% of the Canadian Web population using Social Networking sites. But over 60% of the Web population is using blogs and video blogging, video and photo sharing sites.

I think it’s very early days. Even though it’s early days, we’re moving very fast in terms of sharing and collaborating using these new mediums. When print became a mass production communication tool, we suddenly had newspapers so we could learn about what was happening. It wasn’t very long until people were producing books to share learning and ideas. Government quickly picked up on the advantages of paper as well.

So I see Social Media as being incredibly early, too early in fact to predict how it will really end up being integrated into society. But soon (perhaps over the next 20 years) Social Media will evolve to an even more serious role in our society. Perhaps something like;

– Groups forcing electoral change and integrated online voting
– Lobbying through Social Media
– Trans-border interest groups
– New economic models

I’m sure there are others, what do you think? What serious societal changes could evolve along with Social Media?

Ashley King: Showreel

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