The only thing that limits the expansion of social media is the human brain and expanding technology to meet the needs of communication and curiosity. Today’s social media usage has gone far beyond science fiction of a few years ago, so perhaps there is a clue into how future needs will be met in the fiction writer’s brain… or the technology geek. There are also dark clouds on the horizon if we allow technology to become an addiction that lulls us into a malaise of letting machines do the work for us. We cannot afford to be lazy where true interpersonal relationships are concerned. Someone asked the question on a recent Twitter chat about the future of social media and there were a variety of answers… including telepathy. There are controversial plans for the government to sponsor mapping the human brain, so is it still science fiction to assume that the knowledge of how it works gives us knowledge into controlling it? Conspiracy theory addicts will have a field day with that one, but expect to hear the term “slippery slope” used many times by politicians, scientists, theologians, social media advocates and just about everybody else.
What we can expect is more of the same at an accelerated pace. People carry around smartphones in their pocket or purse that has more computing power than the mainframes that placed a man on the moon. Traditional media and methods have given way to technologically superior devices. Twenty years ago, reading a book meant finding a place with sufficient light over the left shoulder to prevent eyestrain. Now we read books from small glowing rectangular instruments in a darkened room and trees are breathing a sigh of relief. What trends are next?
- Paradigm Shift – Currently there are more consumers than contributors of data. With no cost and low cost methods of delivery, more content will be developed by more people. This must be a gradual shift because the meaningfulness of data will be suspect until it survives the trial by fire of peer review. Are resumes dead? No but they usually suck. Anything that will create dialog instead of subjective review of scribbles on dead trees is a step in the right direction.
- Cloudy Future – No, not fuzzy, but in the cloud. Actually this is not a new concept, but more and more business will be conducted socially in what has become known as the cloud. Security concerns will gradually fade away when new safeguards are implemented. Traditional data security in use today has proven time and again that it is flawed. Globalizing information while personalizing access will be the upward trend.
- Social to Go – Mobile will become the primary platform for social media. This does not signal the end of computers as we know it for communication, but the trend is toward a more portable connectivity for a mobile population. Platforms that do not accommodate that trend will slowly decline. Devices that do not support social platforms will become obsolete as better technology evolves.
- Information Access – It is already easier than it has ever been in history to access information about anything or anyone. The recent announcement about Facebook Graph Search has already been proclaimed to be the new standard for social recruiting even though only a few have had the opportunity to test-drive it. It has also been declared to be the end of personal privacy by others. Either way, data on just about anything will continue to proliferate like wildfire.
- Collaborative Filters – Curation of data by experts will contribute to a new standard for believability and trust in social media connections. Those who would take advantage of technology to spam or promote false information will be eliminated through the sheer volume of good data. A few gullible users will swallow the bait… once. The personal crap detection filters will be honed by experience and trust.
- Reality Checking – Reviving the mantra from hippy-era thinking, there are different strokes for different folks. In spite of fears to the contrary, there is no conspiracy to mold everyone into clones and there will be more outlets for expressions of individual thinking. The checks and balances of opposing viewpoints will be tempered with easier access to facts… if anybody ever chooses to use them. Hopefully the future of being social will also mean being more tolerant of other viewpoints.
Whatever is in store, nothing can be accepted at face value without a total shakedown cruise to determine long term problems created out of short term advantages. Flash-in-the-pan ventures will release flawed platforms that will not survive the test of time. The future of social media will be communication at its best, but nothing will ever replace good old eyeball-to-eyeball contact. Recruiting sites may begin to look more like dating sites, but in the end it is about the dialog between real people that will make them successful.
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