06 February 2008

more about posers in techville

A cautionary note: this is a guest column penned by my alter ego.

So the lemming talk in techville for as long as I can remember (that should give you a good indication of my age) is social-community-personalization. Yeah... yawn. Yes, facebook is the great playground for those at an age where they need to learn to socialize or cannibalize with low risk (through the net). And yes, many a garage band have found an eager if not paying audience on myspace. Oh – and do not forget the underemployed or aspirationals that flock to linkedin (note: I am not entirely immune to any of these).

The big question seems to be, have we reached the potential of the social web. The answer is a resounding no. We have just seen the early and immature blossoming of a yet to be truly optimized feature. Much like your car’s GPS, which is only awaiting the resolve to bandwidth and mobile carrier silos challenges, to become a simple web map tool, social aps will not reach their true potential until they appropriately purposed. Uhhh what?

If you look at the history of technological innovations, a great many cool and expensive toys flounder in the marketplace as stand alone products until they become accepted and expected and role up into the larger product as a feature. And so it will be with social media. There are two reasons outside of the teenage training ground that have realistic applications for true social media. Those are commerce and uhm, commerce.

The voice of the satisfied or unsatisfied customer that shopped just prior to you is a huge help in resolving the cognizant dissonance you are experiencing with purchasing your new gas-guzzler – even though it is a hybrid. We feel, for some reason, more apt to trust the last idiot than we do the company working to increase our bloated debt (pardon the cynicism… I am on a role).

The other place that social media will continue to grow is towards fanaticism. Bodie Miller’s new site, despite the need for some any design talent, is an example of how to create excitement and commerce across an activity. When we share interests, we are much more likely to participate. When we are encourages and excited about our chared interest we are much more likley to purchase.

It would seem that the hardest task for those living in techville is to thoughtfully purpose technology. The lemmings of course, will continue to run around spouting the buzzword or the day, while others will actually be working to apply the technologies in ways that make sense.