Why is Facebook so popular? Is it because people love Ajax or the colour blue? No, Facebook is popular because it serves a real-world social need, it connects people. It’s the same reason why Twitter is so popular, because it facilitates communication. These are the pillars of the social web, connection and communication. People doing online what people have been doing in the real world since the dawn of humankind, interacting with each other.
Geolocation. If you think of computers, and by extension the web, as a means to an end rather than the end itself, then the next step in the evolution of the social media phenomenon is to translate the connections in the digital world into connections in the physical world. This is where geolocation comes into play.
For example, I’m certain that soon all cameras will tag images with GPS coordinates so that once they’re shared, people will be able to know where they were taken. This will help people more easily find pictures of known locations as well as better relate to the experience the photographer is sharing. Another example of connecting people in the real world is Nine Inch Nails‘ upcoming iPhone App. The app leverages the iPhone’s GPS ability to connect fans in many different ways (watch Kevin Rose explain about half way through this Wired.com video).
The point, like I mentioned earlier, is that social media is a means to an end and not the end itself. If you want to be ahead of the curve then focus on developing tools that will bring people closer together. Build tools that will help people discover and connect in new and different ways. Build tools that will help them translate those connections into the real world we all live in. Because in the end, that’s what social media is really all about.
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