Monday, 30 June 2008

The future of Social Networking is near!

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You've probably seen it already: Offline links that need to be photographed from a mobile device to be activated, 16 gig mobiles, coffee machines with face recognition expression software that prepares your favorite drink depending on your mood and FriendRank: Like Google's PageRank, but instead of ranking pages for their popularity, it ranks social network friendships.

So, what's next? Micro applications on your fingertips will feed audio, visual and sensor signals to an on-body computer interface. Forget typing URLs: with the blink of an eye, a touch of your finger or a flip of your tongue you will get data/info/content. The future will look like Tom Cruise writing a Minority Report for Stanley Kubrick. What will be our top 5 personal keyphrases? What personal BodyRank will we have? I always look slightly suspicious at my tag clouds [wherever I have them..] and think: So this is obviously what I am all about..

Doesn't it say in the bible that we will all get marked one day and then Armageddon is near?


Revelation 13:16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads, on their websites, or on their public profile.

Revelation 13:17 And that no man might buy or sell or surf, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

Well.. we are actually quite busy marking ourselves in a social media network frenzy that has no boundaries except our own time. People burn themselves and their private lives on blogs and networks, desperately seeking and pleasing an audience that most of them barely know. Having more followers than you follow on Twitter is already a status symbol and on Myspace we don’t even bother to look at people’s sites when they beg for our virtual friendship ..just click ‘Add as a friend’.

If we don't get zonked out by The Armageddon, here's what's next: By 2020, most mobile networks will provide one-gigabit-per-second-minimum speed, anywhere, anytime. Add a powerful projector to your mobile device and you are ready to nuke virtual competitors in online game tournaments or spend your favorite Second Life in wide screen. Anywhere, anytime.

Glenn Ricart, board member at the Internet Society, paints a dark picture: "An entire generation opting-out of the real world and a paradoxical decrease in productivity as the people who provide the motive economic power no longer are in touch with the realities of the real world".

While the vast majority of Facebook/Myspace/Bebo users are still completely blue-eyed about the private information that they etch into the web on a daily basis, a new professional guild, called ERASERS, is already training up to ‘take care’ of all this compromising data. They are a bit like Harvey Keitel's ‘Victor the Cleaner’ character in Pulp Fiction. Well.. that's what they like to think of themselves. Their natural enemies are called WASTERS. These people can be hired to completely waste the online reputation of an enemy (a.k.a. Direct Competitor) by buying links on animal porn sites and sending all sorts of embarrassing posts to industry specific comment sections, building and playing crap looking, horrible behaving avatars in Second Life and naming them with the real person's name, etc. etc. ..the possibilities are endless.

NetLab founder Barry Wellman already commented last year on issues of privacy versus transparency: The less one is powerful, the more transparent his or her life. The powerful will remain much less transparent.

Something to think about..