This is the third and last part of my series concerning my ideas on the future of digital media. After discussing the ’net in the first and the hardware to get access to it in the second installment, i will now try to cover the software part of connectedness.
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After having successfully established the possibility of getting connected with everybody at all times, software defines all functionality building upon this universal connectedness. Software tries to inscribe specific usage scenarios into itself, but it has to be continuously adapted because of users utilizing the software in ways not intended by it’s programmers in the first place. The way of the connected masses will always stretch the limits of published software, just as the connected few are the most powerful group structure for the basic innovation of functionality in the first place.
Since all software is written in structured programming languages, written pieces of software should be treated like every other wirtten piece in every other language, especially when it comes to patenting. Therefore, software should be treated only by copyright laws and not by patenting laws.
Social Communications and Collaboration is considered one of the top 10 strategic technologies for 2011 by Gartner. As such, it was not the hardest prediction to make, since Facebook now captured half a billion people, of which 50% log in on any given day. What renders 2011 special in the development of Social Media is that it will be the first year of aggregating fast mobile access and advanced internet technology in its full potential.
Content & Meaning
The ’net promises to connect every human being on earth with every other. Social Media are structuring and restructuring these connections continually. The content pushed into the Social Media space as well as the connections of the content within the Social Media space provide value and meaning for both the site providing the possibility of creating connections and the users getting connected. Meaning is subjective and always subject to the eye of the beholder. Therefore, the value of specific meanings to people may vary in the emphasis put on the meaning of content or that of connections.
Handling content is no longer a problem for each Social Media site. The type of content is of no importance, since major platforms for all types of media are already in existence. Further inroads can be made only by connecting content of the same or different users between different sites and therefore allowing users to accumulate a digital identity on a number of sites and in a number of graduations, promoting different parts of her or his digital identity on different sites. A digital identity describes all interconnected traces of a specific user within the digital realm, even if the connections are not provided by the user himself. Users connecting their digital identity to another automatically become part of the other.
The future must lie in the evolution of connection control. Current Social Media platforms provide their users only with a low level of connection control. Privacy describes in part what connection control is about but puts emphasis on the content and not on the connections of a digital identity. Full connection control needs to encompass both parts in full. Diaspora seems to incorporate some understanding of the need to recover control not only over oneselfs content but also over ones connections.
The evolution of media in general is a drive towards individualization and separation especially of those small groups, humankind is used to live in. As crowds are getting smaller and smaller in real life, virtual crowds are getting larger and larger. The ’net has had a deep and profound impact on human society, since it separates them in the physical world, only to drive them back together in the virtual.
Blogging cannot be considered a social media. It is quite lonesome, as it fundamentally incorporates the idea of writing a series of articles alone on a single site. All social elements of blogging are secondary of nature and created through active participation either by readers for example through comments or by the blogger himself. The blog content will always trump all social elements provided.
Blogs are discourse-machines. Contributing to an ongoing discourse creates links – or the possibility of links – between thematically connected blog entries. These discourses are no longer remaining in the virtual, but with the inception of the Barcamp, a discourse can be taken to the physical realm easily.
Blogging is as well already an established journalistic form, even if only vaguely defined. The one leading principle of blogging is the blogger. She or he remains at the core.
We are reaching the end of the transition period from analog to digital media. The internet as digital universal transmission platform started to act as a transmedial aggregator for digitalized content. Social Media describes a specifically connected type of content, which always relates to the digital identity of someone. Connecting content to establish a true digital identity in a reasonable, secure and private manner is the next big challenge, regardless of platforms or sites.