Reality Redefined – August 27, 2010
Some friends and I went to a local festival in the park this week for a picnic dinner and entertainment provided by a local dance troupe. Though I found the performance lacking and we ended up (like many others) leaving early, the next morning I felt compelled to look around on the internet to see if anyone had posted a review that concurred with my opinion. It didn’t take long. Which put me in mind of a video blog this week in which social savant Brian Solis posited that it’s more important to look at our “relations” with thousands of people (based on expressing a common interest in something online) than “relationships” with hundreds of people (presumably experienced through face-to-face interactions). I wonder if constant exposure to electronic social networks is altering how we do our “reality check” of the world we live in. More importantly, does this kind of sharing with anonymous internet sources raise our consciousness, or does it merely turn us inward?
Even as we read less (and watch TV and listen to radio less), we continue to be inundated with input from our phones, our laptops, our GPS devices, music players and the like. But TMI (too much information) can, ironically, keep us from knowing or understanding the very things which we care about most. For example, socially-conscious entrepreneur Kevin Jones describes the market for social capital “as an archipelago that’s risen above the swirl of the traditional capital market, a cluster of islands grouped at the intersection of money and meaning and only partially and occasionally linked.” Along those lines, my favorite real estate agent/social relationship guru Cece posted online this week about the valuable data that she uncovers about the condo market in San Francisco, based on conversations that she has with other people in the know — information, in other words, that you can’t find through a simple google search. So whether you want to save the world, or just want to save a bundle, it pays to know people.
Off the Hook
Sometime after the digitization of the phone network and before the triumph of cell phones over landlines, the “busy signal” seems to have disappeared. If you’re under 40, a “busy signal” was a tone that you received indicating that whoever you were calling was already engaged on another call. There was no clicking through, no voice mail, no alternate number offered…just a beeping sound. One that didn’t stop until you hung up. Just as that might seem quaint and archaic, it now seems that another feature of the telephone world is also about to die — the telephone number! Given that we have moved to a culture of 24/7 availability, technology is evolving to oblige our desire to be always and everywhere found. A blogger on TechCrunch points out that there’s a plethora of applications that exist which can surround that voice conversations with video, text, graphics and more. So there’s no reason that people should have to find each other based on “by punching digits into a device to start a conversation.” There are many other ways that we can be indexed, linked, connected and followed. Have fun!
Hide and Seek
blogger Hunter Walk, who conducted a survey of Fourquare users to figure out why they used a feature called OTG (“off the grid”) which actually HIDES a person’s location while still allowing them to “check in.” It turns out that some people (like my iPhone using colleague) just like to have a record of where they’ve been. Many people reported that they didn’t necessarily want to be “found,” but they liked using the geolocation service to help with loyalty programs, take advantage of certain services, and play games. Oh, and sometimes they just don’t want the boss to know where they are. Duly noted.