I’m about halfway through Kevin Kelly’s “What Technology Wants”, a fascinating book in which he discusses his concept of what he calls the “Technium”. Click here for a page on his website with links to numerous reviews of the book.
The point I’m at in the book he’s discussing the concepts of risk management and how best to approach new technologies, as well as the potential for both good and bad inherent in them. The thing that struck me the hardest, though, is the recognition that some of the effects of a technology aren’t apparent until they approach ubiquity, that is until a certain critical mass of people or entities are using them.
So . . . in that regard I find myself wondering what social media is going to look like when everyone is using smartphones and some of the, say, location-based services are both easier to use and more powerful in terms of bringing people together. Anyone have any ideas on what the future may hold? What will it mean to restaurants and others who depend on a fickle public when everyone joins the conversation? What might be the unintended consequences? Who will be affected and will it be adversely? What disruptions do you think might occur?
January 17th, 2011 at 5:25 pm
Thank you, Rick, for sharing this view.
What social media is going to look like when ubiquitous? For one, people will stop talking about it and just use it. I mean, who tries to explain phone and fax in much detail to other than children, old people, and developing societies?
Guesstimating the net effect:
everything the town square does, just faster, farther, and further.
People talk by text, voice or video. People meet virtually or physically, interact, build trust, get things done, and come back for more. My feeling is once the novelty wears off, and the tools and manners are familiar like the phone, technologies that take us beyond – like social media – can leverage our time between 10x and 100x.
Thank you especially for the highlight on Kevin Kelly’s book. I have admired a few of his insights but had not realized he writes about risk management. That relates to my professional interests (interview) and puts his book on my to-read list.
January 18th, 2011 at 10:25 am
Hi Bernd. Thanks for stopping by and leaving an artifact of your presence :). The first time I can recall someone discussing essentially saying what your first point raises (at least consciously remember it as addressing the issue) was in a video of Peter Senge discussing The Fifth Discipline. I believe he was actually paraphrasing someone else, but the point he made was that culture is like water to fish. Fish don’t talk about water, they are immersed in it. By the same token, as you’ve pointed out, when a technology becomes ubiquitous, people stop thinking about it and take it for granted. It’s part of the landscape at that point.
I believe what Mr. Kelly is getting at, and what I am curious about, is how will the uses to which this technology is put change as and when that happens. I think it’s possible to make some guesses, many of which will turn out to be a bit off the mark. I know quite a few of the social media services we use today were originally intended to do something not quite like what they’re actually being used for. Seth Godin wrote a piece exactly four years ago tomorrow where he addressed some of the uses to which mobile apps might be put, using the term Web 4.0. He raised some interesting possibilities. You can read it for yourself here.
These are indeed exciting and, from a risk management perspective, challenging times. Thanks again for your viewpoint. Much appreciated.