On January 22, I wrote a fairly lengthy post about Social Media. Since that time, I have done a bunch more reading about social media and the ever growing number of websites that are dedicated to it. As I have read more and more about social media the more I have come to realize that it is everywhere you turn. With the apps that we install on our smart phones to the online stores that we visit, more and more of our activity is being driving to and by social media.
I found it really took me a while to wrap my head around the idea. The Internet at it's most basic level is a network of computers that share information. What better task then is the Internet suited for than allowing people to network and share information. Since the launch of the Internet in the 1980's and it's growth through the 1990's the purpose of the Internet was focused on connecting all these disparate computing resources that until the Internet came along were computing islands. Once the basic infrastructure and rules of the Internet were established by the mid-1990's people began to use it in mass quantities. At first it was for basic things like e-mail and web surfing. Then increasing it became a means of conducting commerce - buying things, selling things, auctioning things, etc. Now as we enter the fourth decade of the Internet's existence we are finally getting to what may be the ultimate purpose of this monolith we have created - networking and connecting people in ways that have never been done or even thought of before.
In my last post about this, I spent much of my time talking about Facebook and what it was doing. After a lot of contemplation I realized that Facebook isn't the be-all and end-all of the social networking. Facebook is a lot like the Internet itself, in the fact that Facebook just set up the rules and infrastructure of how social media/social networking should work. Now that these rules, standards and infrastructure have been built there are going to be tons of social networking sites that proliferate to serve specific needs. Most of these sites are going to be built upon the common infrastructure that Facebook has established. The few sites that forgo the use of the Facebook standards will quickly find themselves bypassed and left in the dust because they won't have commonality with the rest of the social networking world. As a comparison it is as if some computer networks still ran on token ring infrastructure and refused to adapt to technology that would allow for the use of IP addresses. Those networks and the computers within them would quickly no longer have a user base, because those computers couldn't communicate with the rest of the Internet and hence the world.
It will be the same with social networking sites, those sites that don't use the infrastructure established by Facebook will in most cases go the way of the doo-doo bird. There might be a few sites that can buck the trend and use their own infrastructure, but these social networking sites will have a unique purpose and reason to exist.
When you starting thinking of what Mark Zuckerberg has imagined, planned and created it is truly amazing. He has created a platform by which much of what the entire human population does on the Internet will run through. It is mind boggling. The shear numbers of people who utilize Facebook are almost impossible to comprehend. When the Facebook S-1 form was filed with the SEC for their upcoming IPO, the number of monthly users was listed at 845 million people. That is almost 1/7 of the world's population! What consumer oriented product has ever had that kind of brand loyalty that 1/7 of the world population uses their product. Amazing is the only word to describe it.
Much of what I have written so far in this post has been non-specific and general pie-in-the-sky stuff. Now let me give you some specific examples of what I am talking about it. During my training for the Canyonlands Half-Marathon, I started to use an App for my iPhone called "RunKeeper". This is a handy little app that uses the iPhone's GPS feature to keep track of pretty much everything I do while I am running. It tracks where I run, how fast I run, how much I run, how many calories do I burn and a host of other variables. Once my run is complete, Runkeeper asks me if I want to save this information and if I do it posts it to my personal database on the RunKeeper Website and then... logs into Facebook and posts all the same information to my Facebook page and notifies all the runners/athletes in my team that I have completed a new activity. All of this information is transferred to Facebook and the other runners in my team via protocols and standards that were established by Facebook. Because if you want your app to post stuff to Facebook, and what developer won't want that, then you have to follow the rules that Facebook says you have to follow. All the while as Runkeeper's data is posted to Facebook it creates another reason for common people like me and you to log into Facebook. I want to log into Facebook to see how much my buddy John ran today. Did he run more or less than I ran? How fast did he run, etc.
Whereas Runkeeper is just one little small piece of the world that has to do with athletic performance it still can be "socialized" by using the rules and standards of Facebook. I know from my personal perspective if I can compare what I am doing to other people when it comes to my athletic performance I would rather do that then just log my data by myself. This data sharing gives me comparative information of how I am doing against my friends and peers. If I were very competitive it would allow me to ramp up my running to the level at which my friends are running.
With this wide-ranging infrastructure that Facebook has become almost any kind of activity or thing you keep track of on the computer can be turned into "social networking/social media". You think of all the different apps there are on Facebook - from game playing apps like Farmville, to the Top 100 Things to see in the World and you realize each of these activities that had in the past been solitary is now part of a giant social network of activities. You can compare what you are doing, or if it is a game you can work with a team of players to accomplish a goal. And all of this is brought about by the common infrastructure that is Facebook.
When you start seeing the width and breadth of all that Facebook is doing you can start to understand, along with it's 843 million monthly users why it is going to have an IPO of over $100 billion. Amazing....
One last point about social networking that I wanted to mention. If you have specific interests that you would like to explore or find common cause with other people you should really look into whether there are specific social networks around those interests. In my reading I have stumbled upon a page on Wikipedia that attempts to list all the social networks that exist. Here's the link to that page - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites.
In looking at this list I found at least 3 different social media sites that I want to join. They are: Blogster, a social media site for blogging. The Daily Booth - on this site you take a daily picture of yourself and upload and then people discuss and critique it. Fotolog - this is a site that focuses almost 100% on photo blogging.
My point in writing all this stuff is that the world of social media/social networking is absolutely fascinating. Everything about social media is almost brand new. It has an amazing power to harness what we do as individuals or entire societies. A year ago almost exactly, social media brought down the rulers of 2 countries who had been in power for many decades. I think what happened last winter/spring is just the begin of all that will happen with social media.
I am going to keep reading and writing about Social Media. Hopefully I haven't bored the crap out of everyone reading this - if so, please leave me a comment so that I know! And if you have questions about social media, send to me - I probably don't know the answer but I am really enjoying doing research on all of this stuff.
On to my second topic of the day - Valentine's Day! For the first time in more years and decades than I can possible count I will be single this Valentine's Day. I think the last time I was single for Valentine's Day was back in the early 1980's. Gees - that is kind of scary to think about it in that way. You hear many single people talk about Valentine's Day as the one day of the year in which they are painfully reminded of the fact that they are single. And I suppose that is absolutely true. I suppose too, if I wanted some kind of celebration on Valentine's Day, I could find someone to go out with and celebrate Valentine's Day.
So here's the thing - I don't want some kind of fake date with anyone just to celebrate Valentine's Day. Something like that would seem exceedingly silly and I don't want to do anything like that. Furthermore, I don't want to act or feel like I am bitter about it being Valentine's Day and I don't have some one to celebrate it with. Instead, I think this provides me an opportunity to look at Valentines' Day with a set of lens that I have never had before. It will be an interesting opportunity to experience this day on my own. I want to go out to dinner next Tuesday and observe the crowds of people sharing Valentine's together. What will I feel? What will I think? I don't know but I want to immerse myself in the holiday as much as I can and not withdraw and be upset because I don't have a date. It is time to explore a side of myself that I have not explored in many years.
There is only one person at this point that I would want to take on that Valentine's date, but she isn't available to me so that isn't going to happen. I will miss her on this holiday in a very big way as it will be 100% the opposite of how things went last year. Last year I had a fabulous Valentine's Day with a romantic evening together with Shelly. But I am going to stand alone and experience life in a different way this year and grow from the emotions that I will feel. Perhaps she will be out celebrating Valentine's Day with someone else this year - I don't know, regardless there is still a woman in this world that I love but I just can't be with her for Valentine's Day.
The point is I will stand alone on this Valentine's Day and I will feel good about myself. I can't say I will feel good about the direction my life has taken of recent. No - that I won't say. But being the ever positive person I am, I will feel good in the moment and I will find something fun to get up to. I think there is a deep strength within me that is allowing me to do this. It is based upon a deep conviction that my feelings and my love for her is 100% right and the way the world is supposed to be. I feel good about my choices and I will be strong in what I believe.
Well it is time to sleep as it is growing late. I had promised myself I was going to bed much earlier. I even stopped a text message conversation with a friend because I was going to go to sleep. And then... I have stayed up for another 2 hours. How stupid can I be?? Very stupid I guess is the answer to my own question.
Anyway - thanks and peace to all! ~ J.
I hope everyone has a great week ahead!!