Of all the potential trends for 2009 I think Social Periphery is the most interesting. It effects everything we do and changes everything we will do. It influences the future form of interactive creative work as well as the way interactive narratives or campaigns should be structured.
It also encompasses another old favourite of mine – the concept of nodal points.
A long time ago (well 1997ish) this was a subject that I once tried to debate with an interviewer at Andersen Consulting as a way of understanding and predicting internet narrative networks. I’d first encountered nodal points as a means of trying to reveal and analyse the often bewildering “narrative” of Finnegans Wake and felt that if we were to treat the net as a whole as a hypertextual narrative then nodal points were a way of extracting meaning. Synchronously it was also just after Gibson’s Idoru where Colin Laney has a talent for identifying nodal points in social data and using them to predict the future.
Unfortunately the Management Consultants didn’t seem to think this interweb thing was going to catch on and rightly asked the strange babbling blonde chap (yes, it was a long time ago) to leave – but they did give me some good fencing tips, apparently they were after good fencers, must have had a team or something.
Anyway, I’m going to be exploring Social Periphery and nodal points in our next whitepaper but until then here’s a quick summary of some of the notes…
- The semantic web means sophisticated personalisation of content – automatically finding and then showing only what is relevant to you.
- It is a future with “web addresses” for content itself rather than content pools – a future of bitcast content where only the most contextually relevant bits are parsed to the end user.
- It is a future that needs better filters/browsers and it is a future that is converging with location and mobile based services.
- Location-based services start with a focus on fulfiling your immediate needs – finding stuff near you now. However, as they grow beyond this then the introduction of the concept of location to technology means increasingly focusing on your relationship with place AND people.
- Loopt and Google Lattitute show that people are not afraid to post their physical whereabouts online if there is a social benefit. The potential is more than mapping where friends are, phonebooks that tell you who is available, e-mail that is smarter/semantic and can help prioritise (based on a person’s relationship with you). Sci-Fi? Not quite: The Obama iPhone app “Call friends” function organised contacts by swing state. The Google search app already returns geographically local search results (and can use voice commands). This has benefits beyond the frivoulous. Good web and mobile services allow people to create social objects (things around which either shared endeavors, processes or communities take place) that add value and enable connections. This is the potential of Social Periphery.
- Social Periphery is about aggregating & serving data in socially useful ways. Location-aware mobile devices capture slices of reality you couldn’t before but there is the potential for too much data. The potential for data noise means that semantic technologies are vital to turn it into intelligence. This is means the two trends must converge.
- Our actions leave traces on the web (manual & increasingly auto generated), we can use these traces to see what is happening next in our social lives ==> social peripheral vision semantically filtered from your feeds and delivered at the right time/place.
- As the semantic web and social periphery converge we have a future where we can have as much peripheral information at our disposal as a World of Warcraft player…
- In marketing terms this combination of the semantic web and social peripheral information changes our campaign signalling strategies and throws up the potential to create nodal points (narrative patterns in vast amounts of data). How do we detect/who will detect and use these nodal points? How will they affect our privacy?
- Again in creative communications terms it affects the concept of the story beyond the article and how interactive campaigns really work and will need to be structured. Communications will become more complex and fragmented and we will need to design and create ideas accordingly.