Social Surfing

Photo by Mike Baird via Flickr

Photo by Mike Baird via Flickr

The way we consume information online is changing rapidly. If there were web sites that we wanted to share with our friends, we would e-mail the links to them. Any discussions happened after the fact through e-mail threads and were out of context.

Jeremiah Owyang talks about the future of the social web being five phases. Phase 3: The Era of Social Colonization he said would start in 2009 and would reach maturity in 2011. Some of the highlights of the Era of Social Colonization include:

  • websites become social experiences, even if they don’t want to
  • decisions made with the help of friends
  • companies will need to focus on influencers

We are starting to see this social web era beginning now with the introduction of very interesting tools. Before I talk about some of the tools, I wanted to talk about why this will happen – the tools are irrelevant.

Just like the photo of the surfers implies, we are social creatures. We go to the game together, we read together in book clubs, girls shop together, heck they even go to the bathroom together – or so the movies stereotype. The fact is: humans are social, we crave the social interactions. Why then wouldn’t we want these interactions to take place where we are spending more and more of our time – online. Well in fact we do. That’s why Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. are growing so rapidly. All of these social networks, thus far, fall short in two areas – they are ‘closed gated’ social communities and are out of context with the rest of the web.

We can now surf the web together. As Jeremiah predicted, we are seeing the introducing of social colonization with tools such as:

Depending on how these (and similar tools) are implemented, I strongly believe that this has the potential at evolving our experience online. You may have heard about Twitter back channel discussions during presentations. Can you imagine your website visitors being able to have similar back channel discussions in an overlay of your website.

I still believe Social Colonization is in its infancy. This was demonstrated to me when I installed Google Sidewiki and reviewed some large websites in Canada and no comments have been added with Sidewiki. BTW, if you want to leave a comment with Google Sidewiki, I started an owner’s entry. Why don’t you be the first visitor entry.

Social Colonization? Buzz word or real future trend? What are you thoughts?

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  • Jeff Walden

    Great article. I think that in terms of successful marketing it’s crucial to have an idea where social media is taking us rather than just grasping the idea of presently using it.

  • Hal Brown

    I think it is very difficult to “keep your finger on the pulse” when the patient is running. Recently, I’ve read several books, (Free, And Then There’s This…, Trust Agents and others). This is why I think not only this post, but your entire site is timely and thought provoking. That said, I don’t know where things are going with social media.

    I do know there are two distinct kinds of people who use the net: the old school who think all this Twitter/Facebook stuff is just kids screwing around, and those who can’t seem to get enough social interaction online.

    My personal thoughts are, enough already with the toolbars, join and participate sites, life online in a virtual world. There is a real world outside where you can ‘friend’ and touch actual people. As much as I use and enjoy the web, I’m also worn out with the constant “join me” groups. As far as business, all this collaboration with all things must reach a point no ROI.

    I sometimes ask myself why I belong to the few social sites I’ve joined. I no longer log onto Facebook or actually use much of anything but Twitter. Maybe I’m just getting old, and don’t really care – I haven’t figured all that out yet.

    A few years ago I predicted a backlash against living online. Many people would do well to go back about 30 years and read “Future Shock.” Technology moves far too fast for society to keep up.

    Thanks for a good post and the opportunity to express a thought on this phenomena.

  • Mike McCready

    I agree with you completely Hal. While I really enjoy this social connectivity, it does grow tiresome at time. In fact, I am very much like you. I rarely log into Facebook, and when I do, I’m there fore only a few moments. I do however spend alot of time interacting on Twitter.

    I quite often use product reviews from Amazon or other online retailers to make decisions. Where I think the social surfing idea can grain ground is just in that. Using peer evaluations to make decisions. In post secondary we have that right now with various school/professor rating web sites, but they are all out of context. Tools like Google Sidewiki or GLUE would allow us to share opinions, concepts, issues, etc. in the context of the business, product, charity, etc.

    Thanks again for participating and sharing your insights.

  • Anita Santiago

    Very interesting article. I agree that social interaction is an important part of the human experience. Having the ability to interact and/or engage others is important in the online world. I agree w/ you that the need for interaction has contributed to the growth of Facebook & MySpace. Thanks for a great post. I really enjoyed it.

  • Akloose

    Reading this one post has me coming to the realization that there is a lot I do not know about the Social Media. I ‘FaceBook’, Blog, etc. and I thought I was pretty much in the mainstream, but I see now that this thing is gargantuan. There is terminology that I do not understand and concepts I may never get my head around couple that with the doubts and uncertainty of the invasion of privacy implications and the whole thing can get rather daunting. It’s like trying to get in a car while it is in motion, just how do I do this without ending up in the dust somewhere along the road.
    Fact remains I’m probably already on board, question is am I a passenger, here for the view, or shall I grab an oar and be part of the team.