Of Twitter tales and a social future

Social media is driving the future of the Internet

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Of Twitter tales and a social future Social media is driving the future of the Internet.
By  Vineetha Menon Published  March 14, 2010

Two very important events took place last week - the Abu Dhabi Media Summit (ADMS) and the Emirates Airline Festival Literature (EAIFL). While one focused on the state of media today and where it's headed in the future, the other brought together some of the most respected authors from around the world to discuss their craft. And both gave a nod to the Internet and growing adoption of social media.

In his keynote speech at ADMS, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that the future of media will follow a strategy he calls ‘Internet First' where content will initially be distributed online to gauge reaction and build interest, before more investment is made. In no way, he states, will it ever replace traditional media but that the web will increasingly be part of a broader strategy.

Social media is driving it. YouTube didn't exist five years ago but today people are watching hundreds of millions of videos every single day, with 20 hours of video being uploaded to the site every minute. Twitter is now accepted as a medium for instantaneous news updates as demonstrated during the Iranian protests and Haiti earthquake. And Facebook now has 400 million active users. If it were a country, it's now passed the United States population mark of 307 million, and is behind only China and India.

I like to compare social media to a tidal wave (but a nice, positive one!) that has crashed over us - few are fighting it, others are taking control by swimming in the direction they choose, while some have let go completely and are flowing with the currents. Each person has their own preference but the waves just keep getting bigger and bigger...

There was an interesting session on social media at the EAIFL where the majority of people who attended were part of the UAE Twitter community. They were passionate, friendly and voiced their opinions, adding to the ‘Twitter wall' that displayed the latest tweets behind the speakers. That's not to say they weren't communicating offline but what struck me was the fact that they were giving as much attention to their cellphones as they were to the speakers. It reminded me of an interesting comment a friend made to me recently. When on a date or with a group, it's considered rude to spend most of your time texting away, especially when someone is speaking to you. But what are the rules of Twitter use? Does it matter?

Not really because I think, at the end of the day, YOU use technology. You call the shots, doing and saying for the most part what you feel like. And maybe that's why the traditionalists are a little wary. If there are no boundaries, where do you draw the line?

It's a topic the writers, Caroline Lawrence, Chris Cleave and Paul Blezard, touched on in that session as well. Today, there are examples of bloggers and Twitterers being offered book deals, but the art of writing still takes time, concentration, hard work and talent. If writers are spending all their time writing status updates and tweeting, leaving them inspired or distracted, how exactly will they finish their next novel? Most however know how to strike a balance or are learning to, and that's what social media is all about. You take all the positive aspects of it and make it work for you.  

Twitter won't go away but there will be others. We'll find more ways to get connected and stay connected. The Internet won't stop growing and our appetite for more will never be sated. So what's the future? Anything we choose it to be.

3445 days ago

The energy generated within a social forum & because of it is exciting to track. Undeniably, social forums have a nature of duality- they represent a source of info, as much as, they are fodder for discussion. The question, "If there are no boundaries, where do you draw the line?" provokes one to be curious/concerned/excited on how the lack of boundaries/rules/parameters fuels a new wave influencers!

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