Monday, November 15, 2010

Musings from Big Think: Smart thinkers tell you what's next in social media

In my reading on social media, I've learned to seek out a range of voices and observers. The firehose-fast updates are like the guys on the street corner with the garbage-can-lid drums: accessible, fast, with a relentless drumbeat of news. Then there are the practical, hands-on sites, the studio musicians of social media, ready with a professional, steady and versatile accompaniment.

You have to listen with more care for it, but there's another kind of tune I try to keep my social-media ear open for. It's the long view, the people who use data, trends and observations to tell me what's coming next. They're the ones who go off somewhere for weeks on end, and come out with five entire albums of groundbreaking tunes...or a rock opera...or both. So listen up, people, and find your music in these musings from the place I'll call Big Think, with apologies to The Band:

  • Up close and personal: With his usual great thinking, Louis Gray's recent post on "The third wave of the web will be uniquely personal" teases out the real differences between what is social and what is personal, and how the latter will shape the ways we (and our customers) experience what's on the web, now and soon.  "Show me my Web for me," he concludes. You've now got your mission. How will you handle this?  Gray represents my6sense, which calls itself "your digital intuition" for sharing relevant items from your RSS and social streams; another new option is Path, a network that aim to be more personal by limiting users to 50 friends.
  • Future and better: Lucy Bernholz is one of philanthropy's big thinkers, and she's focused on the history of the future, and uses her historian's perspective to remind us that "In so many areas of life, we are trying to thrive within rules written for a different time."  (No wonder it feels like a constant adjustment!) She has a challenge for this awkward time: "...if this is a moment of such profound transition that we will only see it clearly in the rearview mirror, than what we need to be doing now is imagining what better could look like." She has a few ideas for you.
  • Future trends to get ahead of:  Business Insider rounds up 25 tech trends you need to know about in order to be a "future-proof" entrepreneur.  That's overpromising a bit, but read it anyway--and figure out whether you're a step ahead or behind. How will you work these into your workday? Do you need to?  When you're thinking about what comes next, it's always useful to go back to Robert Scoble's list, "are YOU from the future?," to figure out where you might want to be headed--if you're not already there. It's 38 items, and not all of them involve one-upping your friends with new technologies. For example, if you don't use Facebook "like" buttons on your website and can articulate why, you might yet be from the future.
What's on your mind, looking ahead? What "nexternal relations" questions are you concerned about? Share your questions and issues in the comments.

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