We have entered a new era of need. One that depends upon being connected. Connected to the most recent, relevant information, connected to to energy, and most importantly, connected to other people.
Humans have an obvious baser desire to be connected to other people. This is evident in the trend of urban growth, online social networks, networking events, social clubs, fraternities, sororities, bars, and families. We crave to know a little bit about what is going on in the lives of those whom we have a connection with. The more we know about someone, the closer we tend to be to them. Our spouses, significant others, and close friends have the most information on our activities, and are therefore a part of our inner circles. We keep them updated vocally, with one on one face time, and often they are present for a large majority of our day to day lives. New developments tend to involve them in some way.
The new addition to this club is social networks. They have transformed the way that we interact. At any given moment we can log on to facebook.com and within moments, gain a simple understanding of the state of our social network. By pursuing people’s updates, photos, comments and activity, we can judge the emotional state of our “friends”. As facebook’s systems get better at identifying who our real world friends are and showing us information that we deem relevant, this feeling will grow stronger.
We are approaching a network “hive mind”, a time when we will simply understand what people in our social circles are thinking and feeling. We will know when the economy is hurting because many we are connected to will be expressing financial woe. We will know when people have holidays because our connections will be talking about breaks, vacation, and travel plans. By analyzing certain words in updates, we can tell if people are generally depressed, or feeling optimistic about the future. This is already happening – look at Twitter’s advanced search:
I have to run and catch a plane, but think about this for a while:
How much do you inherently know about people you haven’t spoken to in over 3 months? Do you know if they seem happy? Or if they are going through a hard time? Where do you see this trend taking us? In the age of real time information, how long until I know what you just thought?
(Side Note: I am at an airport bar, and the people next to me are having a conversation about facebook, its stalking aspects, and people they know who don’t use it. He is expressing the wish that a friend of his used facebook so he could know what she was up to… that voicemail was outdated. How long until Techno Luddites are shunted into a different culture, where they no longer have the same feeling of community as those who spend long hours online following the minutia of their friends lives?)