Sumit Sharma

Social Networking: Why we don’t have a choice anymore

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Why should we participate in Social networks?
To all those people that balk on the thought of putting up an online profile, or don’t feel the need to become a member of a social network – do reconsider. Of course there is the argument of Personal branding which has become arguably becoming more important than ever. There is also the viewpoint catering towards the holistic benefit of developing a knowledge community and fostering collaboration through knowledge transfer and the like… (these two reasons, albeit crucial, are not what this post is about because there are countless articles out there explaining this)…rather, lets consider the notion of our general well being in terms of obtaining relevant data at the right place at the time time.This issue is not imminent, and will not catch us like a deer in headlights, but rather is analogous to a creeper shrub slowly, inconspicuously and very incrementally, crawling  before you know it, has intertwined itself around various loops and holes and become ingrained in everything around.

What do I mean by well-being on the internet? Simply put, it relates to the need to extract relevance and appropriate information for a more enjoyable, and valuable, user experience. User experience is going to be crucial for the future generations of net savvy users who already are more mature at their ages than when we were at their age. They know what they want and more importantly, they know what they don’t want – and they are blessed with intelligent gadgets that produce user-generated content on social networks and other such content portals and one of the trends already imminent is the accessibility of a plethora of obscure knowledge at their finger tips. This will lead towards the evolution of a wave of creating relevance so to speak because when a fire-hose is aimed at you and all you want is a simple shower, you’d want to filter the hose and get only a few streams of water. Relevance creation requires user participation and the more we participate the more effective your user experience will be.

Participation implies we become more active and share information – and since an argument can be made that social networking sites are increasingly becoming a central point of convergence for aggregating information about our lives, it makes most sense to at least start to become active on a social network. Think about it, Facebook integrates our social and extra curricular activity such as retail, fun, leisure etc – yes it isn’t perfect in that it doesn’t integrate our professional activity, nor does it know enough about our Amazon.com activity or Google searches etc, and of course with the nascence of the sensors in the physical world it doesn’t know about our physical activity – that said and granted, Facebook is still a more then better starting point to begin defining identity on the internet – this will enable the information aggregators and content sites to better filter information and data that is more relevant to us. This will go a long way in bringing a more effective, valuable and serendipitous user experience down our way.

This is all in an effort to satisfy the need to set context in the internet… and context doesn’t grow on trees. Being able to effectively define context is an immense effort, though not impossible – it takes a few really smart product managers well versed in marketing, human psychology and in possession of sharp business acumen to define a context function. There are many variables in this function and it will be challenging to define them: to start with we can define location, time, web activity history as a few to start with and coupling this with our social networks’ activities could be very useful. The key is for us to contribute and become active – there is only so much context we can put on the web without contributing and for that, social networking will evolve form being a fun, cool tool to stay in touch and meet people to actually being an important conduit of our information. I’m sure folks at Facebook are already well into this issue …

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Written by Sumit

January 26, 2010 at 8:16 am

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