Wednesday, September 16, 2009

ease of social interactions

If I may indulge in a little of that 20-20 hindsight, it is easy to see why IM, then social networks and then Twitter became so popular.

There was an inherent cost associated in picking up a telephone and calling somebody - you had to give a few minutes of focused attention to them, know what to speak about, make sure what you're saying is of value to them, think about whether they would be free to talk and for how long. And similarly for receiving a phone call.

Along came the Instant Messenger and did away with the need for pleasantries on the phone. You would know when people were available. You could have one sentence conversations with people as though they had always been in the same room with you. Much lower cost.

Social Networks. Even easier to remain connected with people. It became acceptable and usual, to "like" a link posted by someone you had not met in years, or to refute them rebuking your favorite sportsperson. Photographs - the most personal touch of all - added so much to that virtual link.

Then Twitter made it even easier and customary to share random thoughts, opinions, online content, gripes, victories, food menus, bad jokes and so many other mundane life-pieces. You could just talk into the air, and so many would listen. And a few would even reply back.

All this - so much easier than picking up the phone, wondering if it's the right time to call up someone you have not met in years to find out how their holiday in Greece was and whether they would recommend the hotel there. Wait, how do you even know they went to Greece this summer? Wait! How can you even assume you have their phone number!

Looking at this trend, what do you think is the next step in making this process even easier?
Listening to music with friends who are online at the same time? Watching Hulu with them? Just plain old browsing that you can share with people?

Two opportunities arise: the more things people share, the more you need help to consume all of it. And how do you meet all these people in the first place? Has that changed as dramatically as keeping in touch with all the people you have met? Can that change?

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