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December 07, 2007

About Bubbles (the Video) and the Meaning of Social Technologies (a.k.a. Web 2.0)

Between my professional writing and teaching load, I haven't had much time for blogging lately. That does not mean that I haven't been seeing cool productivity tools nor that I am not just busting at the gills with awesome ideas I've seen or heard and want to share. More on that soon, I hope!

Meanwhile, the buzz this week has been the new YouTube video, "Here Comes Another Bubble." Before we go right to the video, I'd like to put it in context.

Earlier in this blog I highlighted another popular video about Web 2.0, a.k.a. social technologies, "Web 2.0 -- The Machine is Using Us."

The focus in the first video is on the range of social technologies, what / why social technologies, and really a nifty introduction to the idea of social tech as a kind of ubiquitous crowdsourcing environment. Pretty nifty! This is what I really focus on myself in social tech -- the ideas that are most important are (a) people FIRST; (b) everyone has something to contribute; (c) the power of the many; (d) the personal and collective utility of friendship and collaboration. Perhaps the ultimate democratic environment thus far, with political and viral meme implications that are beyond the scope of this blog.

Back to the topic. The "Here Comes Another Bubble" video focuses on a narrower view of social tech, primarily the economic implications. Let's take a look at it.

Realistically, all grown ups who have had to work for a while have figured out that either you go off and live a lifestyle based on hunter / gatherer / subsistence farming, live homeless, or you have to figure out a way to make a living. It is entirely possible to have a great idea to benefit the welfare of mankind and have it never see the light of day because of sociopolitical or economic factors. So whatever the idea is, other people have to find value in it.

What people like changes. Hey, what did you expect? As individuals and communities, we learn, get bored, move along, become fascinated with something new, and generally keep spiraling (hopefully) upward. The short message of the video is that if you are looking for a way to make money, you might expect that the whole social technologies business is probably leveling off. This will impact on the trends of development.

There are so many incredible tools and widgets and gadgets that no one person can keep track of the whole picture. Once it gets hard to find the cool tool you want, it is kind of like household clutter. Anyone here ever bought a second copy of something you already had because you couldn't find the first one? (/me raises hand) At that point, we've crested.

The most successful web 2.0 entities are those that have aggregated a suite of tools - one stop shops. The geek will go out hunting for the best tool for the task. Johnny B. Good man-on-the-street will use the first tool they find that accomplishes the task fairly easily. People like the authors of this blog try to bridge that gap. I expect the next step to be more consolidation and refinement, rather than a lot of totally new concepts.

Lucky for me, I'm not in it for the money. As an educator, though, I do want to be aware of the trends and what is coming next. Humanity is so social I don't see the social part of technology getting less. I can see it becoming such an assumed default that we don't talk about it much. No more so than, we explain relationship dynamics to two-year-olds. Of course people like technologies that facilitate connections with other people. Duh.

Posted by pfa at December 7, 2007 08:41 AM

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